It was dark, barely light enough to see Tate, his black eyes melding into the night surrounding him. They sat cross legged, facing one another, all clothes save for boxers discarded.
But no, they weren’t doing anything, not anymore.
The clock on the nightstand glowed 2:45 but neither seemed to care. It was a weekend anyway.
Victor raised a shaky hand to Tate’s face. Their breaths ragged. Tate donned a cut across his cheek bone from where Constance had struck him during dinner.
His hand trailed from his face to his arm, barely there touches until he held his wrist, upturning it and displaying fresh cuts.
Victor traced over the scabbed cuts, then down over his palm before taking his hand in his own.
“I’m sorry.” Tate said, just above a whisper. “I...I just can’t handle myself when you’re not here. It’s only at night when I have nightmares, when I can’t fall back asleep and I start to think and then I think so goddamn much my throat closes up.”
Tate’s dark eyes faltered, the sharpness melting to liquid tears. Fat tears welling up and falling down his cheeks. He cried like classical lovers did, long dark eyelashes heavy by tears.
Victor’s freehand held his face once more.
“It’s okay. It’s okay.” Victor whispered, pulling him closer.
He pressed a gentle kiss to his cheek, then to his closed eye.
“I dream you’re gone, that I can never hold you. That I can’t touch you. You’re always so close but I can never touch you.” Tate cried into his shoulder. “When I wake up you’re not there, I smell you on my sheets but you’re not there.”
Victor turned his head to press a kiss to his forehead, pressing his face against him.
“When I’m awake, the thought grows, y’know? It’s like a black hole swallowing me. It goes from, Vic’s not here to Vic’ll never come back, that I’ll never see my baby again. Then all I can think about is never hearing you, never touching you, never holding you in my arms. It makes my brain feel like the tv static, I gotta cut-I gotta end the static.” He said, trying and failing to hold his composure.
Victor pulled them apart, Tate tried to go back to his place against Victor but he held him still.
“I’ll never leave. It’ll be me and you, together forever. Now and always. I promise.” Victor said, holding his face with both hands.
He wiped the tears away with his thumbs but more easily streamed down his cheeks. Tate nodded, leaning into his arms once more. They fell back onto the bed, Tate’s head over Victor’s heart, comforted by the thrum of it.
Tate brushed his hands over the old and fresh bruises and hickeys across Victor’s chest. The room had fallen silent and Victor smoothed his hands down Tate’s back.
He was barely crying now, just a few whimpers falling out.
The silence between them was heavy and tense, something like the silence they shared before they dated, words left unsaid between them.
“I know how you feel. The thought starts and it doesn’t stop, it feels like the world is ending.” Victor whispered, eyes squeezing shut to avoid tears. “I think about a lot when I cut. I think about how hard life is, how I’m so tired all the time, how it’s only gonna get worse.”
Tate raised his head from his chest, reaching up to hold Victor’s face.
“Is it worse with me?” He asked, his voice scared like a child.
“No. Never. When I’m with you, it’s okay. I’m just afraid that one day you’ll leave, and I’ll be alone again.” Victor said, putting his hand atop Tate’s. “I think about how empty I am without you.”
Tate paused, liquid eyes thoughtful as he pondered his response.
“Why would I ever want to leave you?” Tate asked.
Victor shook his head and pushed hair off of Tate’s face.
“I just worry, even if it doesn’t make sense.” Victor dismissed.
“No, seriously. Tell me.” Tate said.
He didn’t want to tell him he was afraid that he was holding Tate back. That he was nothing more than a white trash kid who stumbled into his life. He was going to leave him, just like his mother left him and his father. Victor was going to have to put himself back together like he always did, always leaving some pieces behind.
“I don’t think I’m ready to talk about it yet.” Victor said.
“Do you ever want to leave LA?” Victor whispered, changing the subject.
“Yes.” Tate said, almost immediately. “I wanna study birds, I gotta move with them.”
He couldn’t leave LA, he had no money, he had commitments, he had a baby brother to take care of.
Tate could. Tate had no attachments beyond Victor.
“If I left, I wouldn’t go without you, though.” Tate said, big black eyes flashing up at him.
“Really?” He said.
“Yeah really, I couldn’t make it out the city without you. I gotta go to the Midwest, maybe the ozarks. No one’s out there. It’d just be us, we could get a little place you know? For us to do whatever.” Tate said sitting up. “And they have some pretty cool birds, like have you ever seen a photo of an indigo bunting? It’s blue like you’ve never seen blue.”
Victor nodded along. He liked this, seeing Tate so excited.
Victor wanted that. He wanted the house by the lake. He wanted to spend each night under heavy blankets with Tate in his arms. There would be no one to say anything, they could be as far away as they wanted, free to steal kisses in the day time, as loud as they wanted at night.
He wanted it more than anything else.
“I’d love that. What else? Tell me more about this superb little birds.” He said sitting up as well.
“Well, there’s a lot of water fowl there too, like great blue herons and shit. They look like dinosaurs, it’s insane.” Tate said, smiling to himself.
The conversation died down, Victor just stared at Tate. His eyes were still red from crying, but he looked much better now.
Victor laid back down, Tate situated himself next to him, his head rested upon his scarred chest.
“I also really wanna see a bald eagle. There’s like none near LA obviously, but, I think it would be special to see them in their mating dive.” Tate said “It’s, it’s pretty cool. They hold onto each other and just, drop, only breaking when absolutely necessary. I’ve only read about it.”
“Damn, that’s pretty fuckin cool.” Victor said.
“And, after that, they mate for life. Side by side forever.” Tate said.
“Yeah?” Victor said running his fingers through Tate’s hair. “Kinda like me and you, huh?”
Tate smiled, shy and ducking his head away.
“Yeah.” Tate said “just like me and you.”
Victor wanted to say something to break the silence. He wanted to pull away from the comfort and reassurance he felt but that was just fear.
Tate shuffled to him, cradling his face as he pulled him into a slow, languid kiss. Victor responded kindly by kissing back, hands rubbing up and down his back.
Tate pulled away, kissing down his chest until he nestled himself once more.
Victor sighed in relief. He had a sleepy Tate in his arms, and for the first time, a dream for the future.
He had nothing to fear.