There are a thousand words Logan could use to describe Roman. He would pull a Shakespeare and invent a thousand more if it meant finding a word that could accurately chronicle the tapestry of Roman, all colorful patches and carefully stitched seams. But Logan is no artist, and his words seem an inadequate medium.
Beautiful, he thinks and then immediately discards. That feels too obvious, with the truth of it so plain to see. Lovely is- better. More intimate. But too soft, perhaps, for Roman’s flame-edged hair, the bronze of his skin and the steel in his spine.
He has tried countless words, none of them quite right. Larger-than-life. (And no, his charisma and magnetic smile absolutely did not excuse the way he didn't seem to know how to shut up.) Captivating. (Roman did have a way with words, when he wasn’t being an idiot.) Extraordinary. (He was quite the artist and actor.) Brilliant. (Again, Roman was rather intelligent when it came down to it.) Perfect. (Technically impossible. But.)
All those words he longs to say, not one spoken aloud.
(Or- once. Alone in his room, Logan had tried the shape of mine on his mouth, thought about how it tasted on his lips and imagined the look in Roman's eyes if he ever dared to say it in front of him. Once, and never again.)
Oh, he wishes. But Logan has always been better with words on the page than to other people.
Well, he thinks, looking down at the letter in his hands, I suppose that’s what this is for. His eyes rove over the paper, skimming over phrases without really taking them in. If he reads it again he'll try to fix it, and at this point there's too much of his heart in the words for him to change them.
He looks at the last page. It's the kind of declaration he sneers at in the romance novels Roman so adores, the kind of thing he would've sneered at barely years ago. But Roman always did have a way of making him question things he'd taken for postulates- himself included.
I tried, over the course of this letter, to pin down what exactly about you has drawn me so irrevocably into your orbit and left me floundering in unfamiliar space. However, as the length of this might indicate, I soon discovered that I could not.
You know me. It is very rare that I find myself lost for words. But I find myself unable to find the correct word to describe you, or even the correct words. Not because I have run out of things to say, or even because you have left me speechless, but because I could use a whole dictionary of love letters and fail to find the words that capture the way your eyes shine in the light when you laugh at your own jokes, and all the cliches in the world cannot express how I feel about every mundane, breathtaking thing about you.
But despite all that, I have three words for you, Roman, and I suppose there is no better day to deliver them than today.
I love you.
Roman has a sketchbook no one but him has ever seen.
The drawings are all in pencil, and Roman aches to paint them, to mix his watercolors until he finds shades that will truly bring them to life. But Logan is a peculiar kind of monochrome, with his navy hair and black polo shirts and countless blue ties, and Roman fears that no amount of paint could do him justice.
It's undeniable that the rich brown of Logan's eyes is a color he itches to find in a colored pencil, that the almond of his skin is one he longs to see redden at his touch. But those aren't the things he really wants to capture when he puts pencil to paper anyway. No, when he draws Logan, his focus is on the gleam that comes to his eyes when he speaks about something he's passionate about, the curl of his lips when his emotionless facade breaks at some stupid comment Roman makes.
Roman wishes he could show Logan the notebook, sometimes, on the days when his longing feels less like a weight on his chest and more like warm light filling it. He imagines coffee-colored eyes looking through the pages with delight, taking in the devotion clear in meticulous lines. He pictures the hands he's spent hours perfecting skimming over paper, taking care not to smudge the lead.
(He sees disgust settling in the curve of Logan's lips and rejection showing in the set of his shoulders, and he pushes away the thought and hides his notebook under his pillow, trying to pretend that he hasn't memorized the shape of Logan's smile.)
But he doesn't think of any of that today. It's Valentine's Day, and Roman is dressed for it. He dons his armor that he definitely did not spend a whole two hours deliberating on and sets out the door armed with a kind of desperate false bravado which is immediately undermined when he jumps at his roommate Patton’s encouraging “go get ‘im, tiger!” shouted through the walls.
Still scowling at the door behind him, Roman briefly debates how desperate a text will make him sound before deciding, screw it.
<< Hey, we still on for lunch at Cream of the Cup?
The reply is prompt, as always, and Roman makes a futile attempt at smothering the smile he knows is blossoming across his lips.
>> Of course.
I'll see you then!
Roman can so do this.
<< Virgil I can't do this
>> why not?? youve been planning this for weeks, youll bbe fine
actually, knowing you, orobably months
>> im aware, weve only veen best friends for a decade
if yoy send a long rambling text ahout how wonderful logan is and how you dont deserve hkm im gonna lose it
roman i swear to god
<< HE'S JUST SO SMART AND AMAZING AND I'M JUST ME I DON'T DESERVE HIM AND WHAT IF I SCREW THINGS UP BETWEEN US FOREVER AND HE HATES ME OR WHAT IF IT'S AWKWARD I'M OKAY WITH JUST BEING FRIENDS REALLY HE PROBABLY DOESN'T EVEN LIKE ME THAT WAY ANYWAY I MEAN WHY WOULD HE
>> youre not
<< I'm not
>> okay roman, listen up, because I'm only gonna say this once.
first of all, cut it with the self-deprecating crap. one, that's my thing. and two, I WILL pull a patton and fight you.
stop doubting yourself, it doesn't suit you
I might not have known you as long as I've known logan, but I know
I can see you typing. shut up.
maybe I haven't known you as long as I've known logan, but I do know you're a good guy, and you /clearly/ love him
<< KSKFKFKKFKGD W H A T
>> yes, everyone knows, no, logan does not, LET ME FINISH
it means a LOT to him that you actually read the articles he sends you about mars rovers at 3 am and that you don’t tell him he’s annoying for infodumping about alpha centauri or whatever star system he’s planning to go to and that you deal with his hypocrisy about sleep schedules and his general inability to do emotions
also, knowing him for years means I know his type, and trust me, you're it
and even if by some miracle he doesn't like you back, you guys are too close to ruin your friendship. okay? so however this ends, I promise you'll still be friends
listen, you don't tune him out when he starts babbling, and he does the same for you. he loves listening to your rants about art theory, he goes to every single one of your shows, and he started learning Spanish just to impress you. yes, he's learned more phrases than just insults, he's just been hiding it so he can surprise (aka impress) you later
and roman? he really really does value your friendship. you know that we've known each other since forever, so you know I mean it when I say that I've NEVER seen him get so close to someone so quickly.
and… you've been good for him too, okay? he's not really the type to get lonely, but that's just because he gets so lost in that giant brain of his he forgets there are people in the outside world to talk to. but it really is important to him that you're always there for him, and… I can tell you right now that he's told me how much he appreciates you for it
after all that? I'd say he loves you too, dude. go for it.
you can talk now
<< Holy heck you DO love me
<< Holy HECK
Did you turn on autocorrect just to yell at me???
>> Only for you, babe.
<< Please never do that again
<< yeaj that was oncredibly unconfortable
now GO GET YOUR MAN
Roman, for all his theatrics about love at first sight and true love’s kiss, hadn't mentioned Valentine's Day plans once in the weeks leading up to it. Then, exactly one week ago, he'd texted Logan with a simple request to meet up at a nearby cafe. Logan knows him too well to miss the possible connotations of such an invitation, but he also knows it’s entirely possible that this is merely meant to be an outing between two friends. A platonic outing. Between two people who would forever remain only friends.
A platonic outing in a room where there was barely room to stand, forget sit. Logan curses under his breath. He'd decided for once to not show up fifteen minutes early, as that would only give him more time to second-guess himself, especially given Roman's chronic lateness. But he had failed to account for the obvious fact that, it being both a Saturday and Valentine's Day, the usually quiet cafe would be filled to the brim with couples ordering the heart-themed specials and kissing and generally clogging the air with embarrassingly soppy looks across the tables. And no, Logan is not irrationally annoyed about this, he's just worried he won't be able to secure an empty table for Roman and himself.
But just as the thought crosses his mind, he catches a familiar head of fiery hair at a table against the wall, bent over his phone and apparently completely absorbed by whatever he was looking at. An incredulous “Roman?” slips from his lips unbidden, because- well. It was Roman. But there he was, reserving a table at exactly 12:30 with a croissant and a cup of coffee in front of him. Maybe today really was a day for miracles.
He watches with amusement as Roman jumps and looks up at the sound of his name. His face lights up as soon as he registers who the voice belonged to, and Logan abruptly goes from amused to filled with some kind of fluttery warmth he doesn’t want to quantify.
“Logan!” Roman exclaims, hurriedly tucking his phone away. “Hey! How are you?” His smile beams out like the sun, but it dims upon Logan’s next words.
“Not well, unfortunately,” Logan informs him gravely. “I fear I am experiencing severe auditory and visual hallucinations. For example, I am currently undergoing an extraordinarily vivid one leading me to believe I am conversing with a friend in a cafe when I know for certain that there is no chance of him being here yet.” Maybe Logan should feel bad about the way Roman’s expression morphs from worry to alarm before settling on overblown outrage, but the challenging glint in his eyes arrests him as surely as that of Roman’s heart-shaped studs, and he can’t bring himself to regret it.
“Hey, I'm not always late!” he protests, so loudly that several tables turn to look at him, perhaps expecting a scene.
Logan can’t help the smirk that creeps across his face as he slides into the seat opposite Roman, surreptitiously tucking a navy blue folder besides him as he does. Thank goodness for Roman being typically Roman and reserving a booth that could seat six for a party of two. “Roman. Do you remember how in freshman year, you, Virgil, Patton, and I planned to go ice skating over winter break?”
Roman's look of affront is replaced by years-old indignation so quickly he apparently forgets to be suspicious at the change of topic. “The time my car broke down and I nearly missed it! Yeah, god, I definitely remember that. What about it?”
Logan tries to push down his smirk one more time before giving it up as a lost cause. “Virgil and I specifically told you to come a full hour earlier than we planned to meet- ”
“- so that we would all arrive about the same time, and instead, the very possibility of you being on time for something apparently went so flagrantly against the laws of the universe-” Logan’s voice begins to shake at the look of dawning realization on Roman's face, and he has to avert his eyes to continue- “that the universe struck back by-”
“Making my car break down?!” Roman blurts out, somewhere between exaggerated offense and genuine outrage. “I was excited about that, what- no no no, don’t you snicker at me! I wanted to go ice skating! Instead I had to wait outside in the cold for two hours, and by the time Patton picked me up you guys were so tired you were ready to leave, and- ”
By now, Logan’s succumbed to helpless laughter, and Roman’s expression flips to one of self-satisfaction upon seeing it. Logan tries to ignore the little burst of fondness in his chest at the sight. Even if the rest of today goes horribly, at least he can savor this- this easy banter, these easy smiles.
And banter they do, debating over whether Logan’s physics professor or Roman’s marketing professor is more inept before turning to general commiseration over the “perpetual hell week” that is college. They bounce from the disappointing latest installment of one of Roman’s favorite book series to a terrible documentary on aliens Logan had found on a “science” channel (“It’s called a having a basic grasp of eighth-grade geometry, Roman- which, unlike this nine-thousand year old civilization, these morons have clearly never achieved!”) to every little thing in between, their food forgotten in front of them.
It’s nothing special, technically- they’ve been friends for years now, and they often have talks about everything and nothing. But today Logan can convince himself that an electric current is charging the air between them, flushing Roman’s cheeks and lighting up his eyes as Logan is drawn in, helpless against his magnetism.
There’s no decisive moment where Logan thinks, this is it. There’s just Roman, his laughter like bells in the breeze, and Logan, gazing at him like he’d put the stars in the sky.
“Roman,” he says. That’s it- Roman.
Roman is still giggling at his reenactment of his drama professor’s reaction to a student spilling his own coffee on him, but he sobers at whatever look is on Logan’s face. “Hey- you good, Lo?”
The nickname catches at something in Logan’s chest, pulls it open so the next words come just a little harder, just a little easier. “Roman,” he says again, looking down. “I do not wish to… ruin the mood, but I have something to confess.”
(He's looking down, so he misses the way Roman jumps at the last word.)
But when he meets Roman’s eyes, open and curious, Logan’s confidence abandons him. He exhales slowly in an attempt to recapture some of the sensation from before, like the memory of Roman’s voice will fortify his own. But all that comes out is: “I wrote- would you-”
And then Logan’s throat fails him entirely, something a little like dread and a little like hope clogging it up. Without another word, he slides the folder he had kept tucked at his side to Roman. When Roman raises a curious eyebrow, Logan simply smiles- a quick, brittle thing- and motions for him to open it.
Earlier, the noise in the cafe had distracted Logan, had made him frown when it rose over Roman’s voice. But now it all fades into the background, the chatter of voices and clatter of spoons receding in favor of the thwip of the folder opening, the little breath Roman takes when he reads the first two words.
Dimly, Logan thinks he must have used up all his words in the letter, because his mind is utterly blank as he watches Roman's eyes flick over its pages. But his heart is pounding loudly enough that for an absurd second, he’s sure Roman can hear it in the sudden, impossible quiet.
Logan waits for a minute, maybe five. He thinks he’d wait for Roman forever if he asked. But Roman doesn’t make him wait that long, because when he looks up his eyes are wet with tears, and when Logan uselessly opens his mouth- to do what? His voice certainly hasn’t returned- he lurches forward, clumsy in a way Logan has never known him, and kisses him.
When they finally draw apart, Logan thinks back to that day in his room, when he was aching and alone and almost too scared to whisper. Now the room is crowded and bright, and he only has eyes for the man before him. The taste of Roman’s too-sweet coffee is on his lips, and Roman's eyes are shining.
Logan thinks he’s finally regained his words. Or maybe just these three, but it doesn’t matter since they’re the only words he’s wanted to say since he said Roman’s name like a confession, the only ones all he thinks he’s capable of saying at all right now. He breathes in, gathers every tattered scrap of courage left in his chest, and-
“I love you,” he hears, clear as the sun in the sky, and he’s not the one who said it.
When Roman had daydreamed about telling Logan, there’d always been the fantasy that he’d- well, steal away Logan’s words. Logan, who was always so eloquent; Logan, who couldn’t make small talk to save his life; Logan, who could ramble for hours if given the opportunity, tongue-tied because of Roman. There was a certain arrogance to it, maybe- but that was what fantasies were for, Roman assured himself. So he liked to imagine Logan sputtering incoherently before pressing his lips together and deciding there were better things to do with his mouth. Like kiss Roman until he’d forgotten his own name. Or something.
Which means there’s a definite sense of triumph in seeing Logan rendered mute by shock, but that's overshadowed completely by the realization that his idle daydreams couldn't hold a candle to the reality of Logan's reaction. Roman had pictured silence, yes, but he’d never have dared to dream that Logan would just gape, shoulders falling in shock as his mouth fell open in a silent oh. Red blooms in his cheeks, visible even through his dark skin, and something about that is so delightful it nearly takes Roman's breath away. His lips are pink and his eyes are wide behind his glasses and his trademark composure has all but fallen to pieces, and Roman thinks Logan has never looked more like a work of art than he does now.
“I,” Roman starts, voice rough. He immediately curses himself for it, the breaking of this soap bubble moment with his clumsy words. He doesn’t even know what he was going to say, god. But-
“You- ” Logan says at the same time, and his voice comes out just as choked up. They blink at each other, frozen, and Roman has a second to picture the tableau of the scene, all flushed faces and tear tracks and open mouths in their own little world, before he breaks. His laughter is too loud, and it would feel far too honest if it weren’t for the honest-to-god giggling from Logan that follows immediately afterwards. It's a little hysterical, maybe, but they're both so deliriously happy that that barely seems like a problem.
If Roman could paint this scene, it would be all bold strokes and bright pigments, as much light and color and love as he could fit onto the canvas. For now he's content to drink it all in- to take in the way Logan's eyes crinkle when he laughs, to memorize the shape of this new smile before him, to read the joy, pure and simple, in every line that makes up Logan.
A picture might be worth a thousand words, he thinks, but this one just needs three. And when Logan, helpless laughter finally subsiding, puts his hand over his, Roman thinks he might agree.