Edward wakes. It is dark, but he knows Thomas by the slight rustle of clothes and the soft hand on his face, by the dip of the mattress and the long, lean thigh pressed hot against his side. Thomas folds himself into Edward’s body, tucks himself against Edward’s chest and Edward opens up, offers the vulnerable line of his neck, presses the broad expanse of his back against the planks of the hull to shield their little hollow from the harshness of the cold.
Edward is not used to think of the world in terms of his own happiness, but as Thomas leans against him and sighs, he feels the bones in his chest expand.
Edward wakes. The light is from the patent illuminators and the spot next to him on the mattress is cold, with only a few unusual folds in the linen to mark the place. The knock on the door is Gibson’s, and Edward is suddenly dizzy with the hollow feeling of absence.
“I want, I want,” Edward gasps into the slight dip where Thomas’ shoulder bones almost meet beneath his skin. His voice fails him on the last word, the thinking about what he wants unfamiliar, the talking of it more unfamiliar than the thinking. “I want,” he starts again and fits his mouth around the unfamiliar shape of the words, “I want to wake up and you there. I want to wake up with your nose pressed against my throat. I want to watch you while you’re sleeping. I never want you or me to have to feel alone again.”
Thomas’ shoulders shake with something like a silent sob. Edward is glad that the darkness hides their faces, even from each other. Thomas’ hand comes to rest on the broad line of Edward’s thigh. Edward buries deeper into the the angles of Thomas’ back to brace himself for what is sure to come, what is only necessary.
“We can’t risk that,” Thomas says, so softly Edward feels the words reverberate more through his back than hears them. “I know, I know,” Edward mutters, knowing that Thomas is right, but fighting the knowing for as long as he can stand it.
Love makes him horrible. Love has him strain against his confinements, court risk in ways that he would have sworn were alien to his nature. He is terrified that his weakness will get Thomas hurt, that he will have to bear the brunt of some unspecified disaster Edward, Edward’s carelessness, has invited into the sanctity of their shared moments together. But the want inside of him is like a vortex, like some great mythological thing that, once born into the world, cannot be stopped by mere mortals alone and will swallow all ships careless enough to venture in its path. He loves with the recklessness of youth, with a bravado entirely unbecoming of his age and station. Everything is too small now, and Edward always used to be so contained.
Thomas makes no move, just presses his back against Edward's chest with a sigh and raises Edward’s hand to his lips for a kiss.
They’re doomed, Edward feels it. He doesn't care. Instead, he holds on tight.