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everybody says that nothing ever lasts forever, so I'm hanging on tight trying to keep it all tied together

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“Do you want help with that?” Leon asks, watching Raihan fuss with the bag of treats Ms. Honey was nice enough to given them. “How are your ribs?”

Raihan arches an eyebrow and shakes his head.

“I’m fine,” he chuckles, “I can handle s’mores, Lee.”

“Rai, I love you, but you can barely fry an egg on a good day,” Leon deadpans, a mixture of concerned and solemn, looking at him dubiously. “ How are your ribs?

Raihan doesn’t bother to look offended and merely sighs, leaning on his side as he looks at the supplies he’s trying to sort out into place. He looks relaxed, but then, he’s looked relaxed the whole time, even as he passed out in Leon’s arms, and slept off the worst of it in the hospital and just. Leon would very much like it, if Raihan stopped being so chill about things for maybe five minutes. It’s unnerving.

Now that the Gym Challenge is over, Leon expected Raihan to stop being… so well put together about the whole thing. To be angry or stressed or sad or something. But he was right as rain the whole time, except for the bit he wasn’t at all, and even now, Leon can hear the sound, bone snapping under pressure. He feels bad for that, for wanting Raihan to be upset, and when he stumbles on the thought, it will not leave him be. But he just doesn’t quite understand how Raihan can be so… calm and composed about the whole thing. He wouldn’t be, in his shoes.

“Stop thinking so loud,” Raihan says, and then tugs Leon at the precise moment he is stretching to grab some of their supplies, so he loses his balance and lands square in his lap. “You’re being silly.”

“But—” Before Leon can properly articulate that no, he’s not silly, he’s just concerned and also a little terrified of hurting Raihan, Raihan grabs one of his hands and presses it under his shirt, right against his side. “Rai!”

“My ribs are doing fine,” Raihan says, eyes half-lidded and expression teasing, as he shuffles Leon until he’s straddling his lap, one hand pressing Leon’s firmly along his sides, under his shirt, and the other curled around Leon’s back, holding him in place. “But if you’re that worried, you’re always welcome to examine them thoroughly.”

Leon stares at him blankly for a moment, and then promptly blushes.

And then he remembers Ms. Honey winking at him and insisting the lagoon was the perfect place to camp under the stars for some time alone with his boyfriend, since absolutely no one would be heading that way for any reason. How remote and private it was. It’d seemed a bit weird, at the time, considering Leon had been busy running a list of supplies in his head and raiding them from her pantry.

It finally clicks into place, loud against the sudden, empty silence in his head.

The blush spreads, he can feel the heat, as it travels down his neck.

“I might need to double check,” Leon says, voice rough, as he slides his other hand under Raihan’s shirt as well. “Just to be sure.”

“Oh?” Raihan asks, leaning back on his elbows, “are we at the point of playing Nurse Joy?”

Leon leans forward, to chase after him.

“Yes.”

Later, much later – after relocating to the inside of the tent, which isn’t, matter of fact, full of sand, and thus infinitely more conductive for the kind of playful, leisure sex they wanted to have – Leon finds himself curled up in Raihan’s arms. This isn’t unusual: Raihan is taller than him and very shameless about using that to his advantage when it’s time to cuddle. And he cuddles a lot, too. He’s always touching Leon: an arm around his shoulders or his chin atop his head – with the prerequisite compliment to his hat of the day, too – or his hands on Leon’s waist or face or somewhere.

It occurs to Leon that they haven’t properly cuddled since the accident, mostly because he’s been deadly afraid of further upsetting Raihan’s wounds. Of making things worse.

“I’m sorry,” Raihan says, legs and arms wrapped snuggly around Leon’s, face tucked into the curve of his neck. “I scared you pretty badly.”

Outside, their fledging campfire has reduced to embers that glow in the dark that’s fallen all around them. The lagoon glitters under the moonlight, like a thousand tiny diamonds scattered on its surface, and the sky is covered in stars, even more than there had been in Postwick, because they’re in an island perfectly isolated from the world. It seems like paradise, right there and then.

“I wasn’t the one hurt,” Leon tries to argue, but his point is slightly undermined by how tightly he’s clinging to Raihan, how reassuring he finds it to be held like this again.

“Special moves aren’t physical,” Raihan points out, kissing the underside of Leon’s chin. “But they still hit pretty hard.”

And it’s the kind of silly, patient metaphor that Raihan would use, because Raihan is good with children and people acting like them, that Leon can’t help but laugh.

“Turns out,” Leon says, “hits against you are super effective against me.”

“I thought I was being reassuring, trying to shrug it off,” Raihan explains, and his right hand curls over Leon’s arm until it reaches his hand and then their fingers are clutching each other’s, pretty tightly. “It’s not the first time I’ve gotten hurt in the enclosure. Hell, it’ll probably won’t be the last. It’s just… it’s just how it is, when you’re dealing with very powerful pokemon that have been so grossly abused. That’s why I don’t let any of you do the really dangerous stuff down there. I guess it didn’t work that way, huh.”

Leon snorts loudly.

“I am a mess,” he says, rather bluntly. “I know that. I am a literal mess of a human being and if you were smart, you’d have run away screaming already—”

“Lee—” Raihan interrupts, frowning, but Leon shakes his head, tightening his grip on his hand.

“But you didn’t, haven’t, somehow, and I love you for that and for many other reasons I won’t tell you ‘cause it’ll go straight to your head,” Leon continues, bravely ignoring Raihan’s snort. “You always let me… fall to pieces, if I have to. And I have, I know I have. But it’s just… it feels like I don’t know how to explain it’s okay if you have to fall to pieces sometimes too. Like one of those trust building exercises, you know? I promise, I’ll catch you.” Leon swallows hard. “I’ll always catch you. It’s okay if you let me take care of you a little, sometimes.”

Raihan lets out a slow breath, slumping against Leon’s back.

“You already do, Lee.”

Leon shrugs, undeterred.

“Then let me do it more.” He nudges Raihan’s head with his chin until he catches his eye and smiles. “I wanna spoil my boyfriend sometimes, it’s that so bad?”

“Terrible,” Raihan sighs, shifting until he can press a kiss to Leon’s cheek. “I suppose you might as well start spoiling me with s’mores, then.”

“I can do that,” Leon nods sagely, and then grins. “I can also point out we could wash up first, since the water ought to be pretty warm this time of the year.”

Raihan does not reply with words, but s’mores are in fact made and eaten… sometime before dawn.