The air condition in the library is turned off at midnight. It’s really not a detail Felix ever thought he would learn but now after four nights in a row the little click before it stops makes him look up. The humming of the a/c is a constant background noise, one that almost feels like it presses against Felix’s skull from all sides and makes it hard to hear his own thoughts after a few hours. He’s starting to understand why Sylvain is so adamant about not forgetting his headphones. The sudden complete silence feels like relief. Even though it’s near the end of the semester there are only a few students left by now, spread out far enough in the building that there’s only an occasional distant rustling of paper and the sound of someone trying to walk down the winding wooden stairs without making too much noise.
Felix puts down his own book, marking the page by folding over the corner and tries to stifle a grin at the thought of how appalled Sylvain would be at that if his eyes weren’t glued to his laptop screen. They’re camping out at what Felix has now come to recognize as Sylvain’s favorite table. It would be too small for two people if they were both working and it’s tucked away in a little corner surrounded by towering book shelves away from the main work area. The Wi-Fi seems to be just bad enough here to leave the table mostly unoccupied even when the library is crowded. Felix leans forward to snatch one of Sylvain’s earbuds and tuck it into his own ear. Tonight what greets him is a repetitive mumbling in a language neither of them understands.
The sudden intrusion however makes Sylvain finally look away from his laptop. The redhead blinks in almost confusion for a few seconds before cocking his head to the side and raising one eyebrow in question.
Like a puppy, Felix thinks and then has to suppress the urge to roll his eyes at his own thought. Out loud he asks, “Are you done?”
Sylvain just frowns and forcefully presses a finger against his lips in mock exaggeration. At that Felix actually does roll his eyes. They’re secluded enough that a few whispered words wouldn’t bother anyone and he somewhat annoyedly recalls two nights ago when one of the security had loudly watched YouTube videos for the better part of the night. Regardless of that, seeing the shadows etched into the skin under Sylvain’s eyes and his hair sticking up in an actual mess instead of his usually artfully created one makes Felix soften up just enough not to argue. Instead he grabs one of Sylvain’s many pieces of scrap paper and a pen.
Sylvain’s eyes flit from the paper to the stacks of books around him, then to the glaring bright Word document open on his laptop. He chews on his lower lip, eyebrows scrunched up in concentration, and rapidly taps his pen against the table a few times. Felix almost reaches out to smooth out the crease between Sylvain’s eyebrows with his thumb. Instead, he continues writing.
You’ve been here since opening.
8am, that means. Just over 16 hours. Dimitri had come by to bring lunch, saving Sylvain from having to eat bland sandwiches from the grocery store across the street, but he hadn’t taken another break in the four hours since Felix had arrived. It was a routine at this point. Sylvain, for all his joking around, kept them all in order during the semester. He was the one to introduce a laundry schedule and attack their kitchen with a label maker, ranging from notes like “DRY FOODS ONLY” on one pantry cabinet to “CHANGE DISH TOWEL DAILY” on the tiles above the sink. In return, Felix and Dimitri kept him together throughout finals. Dimitri stopped by during the day to bring food and gently force him to take a few breaks while Felix made sure to drag their boyfriend home before he pulled an all-nighter.
Let me just finish this paragraph.
They get home with minutes to spare before 1am. The apartment is quiet and dark, as expected, and they both try to be as quiet as possible. No matter how reluctant he is about it, they all know that Dimitri needs to stick to his sleep schedule as best as he can.
Felix finds two mugs waiting on the kitchen counter. They’ve gone cold but when he lifts one to his lips he can still recognize the strong scent of valerian mixed with chamomile. There’s a sticky note placed next to them.
I hope you did not stay too late. Sleep well, I love you .)
In the corner is a wobbly drawing of what appears to be a crescent moon wearing a nightcap. A few years ago, Felix would have scoffed at that and vehemently denied the smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Now he just picks it up to show it to Sylvain. Despite the exhaustion clear in his eyes, it makes him laugh and then immediately stifle the sound in his hand.
They get ready for bed in silence, brushing their teeth side by side and Sylvain simply pulls Felix close to press a quick kiss against the crown of his head before they both slip into the bedroom. Dimitri is already fast asleep and they slip into the bed carefully. Sylvain snuggles up against their boyfriend while Felix latches onto his other side, effectively sandwiching Sylvain.
“I love you both,” the redhead whispers gently.
Dimitri is staring down somewhat lost at a spread of groceries when Felix walks into the kitchen. At the sound of footsteps he jumps a little and grabs the nearest item, a stick of butter, and attempts to hide it behind his back. Felix merely quirks an eyebrow in question.
“I thought you might be Sylvain,” he admits bashfully and lowers the butter.
Felix walks up to stand next to him at the counter and leans into his side, letting his head drop against Dimitri’s shoulder. “Maybe you need to get your hearing checked.”
Dimitri snorts softly and finally sets the butter back on the counter.
“What’s all this anyways.”
“Well,” Dimitri shifts a little, “As you know Sylvain’s birthday is tomorrow.”
Felix hums in acknowledgement. “I am aware of our boyfriend’s birthday.”
“He said he did not want any presents.” Dimitri shifts again. “About five times, if I recall correctly. And yet we both know he likes being…fawned over.”
None of this is news to either of them. When they were younger, Sylvain used to fall over himself to impress everyone around him and nag for presents, flowers, chocolate, anything. One year he winked so often that Dimitri had dragged him to an optician. That at least had proven to be useful by the set of reading glasses now tucked into Sylvain’s bag.
At some point this had changed. It was a bit before they had gotten together, Dimitri thinks, that quiet change in Sylvain’s eyes. He still liked attention but that desperate glint in his eyes had been replaced with quiet contentment.
Felix buried his face into Dimitri’s shirt. “He said we were enough of a gift already.” His muffled voice sounded like he was grinning and rolling his eyes in exasperation at the same time.
Dimitri nodded, smiling softly at the memory. “I thought we could surprise him with a cake.”
At that, Felix finally lifted his head again to level Dimitri with an unimpressed stare. “A cake? From us of all people?”
“I asked Mercedes for help. She assured me this recipe would be at our skill level.”
“Why not ask Lysithea?”
“Ah…you know how much of a perfectionist she is.” Dimitri clears his throat. “I do not think the result would live up to her standards despite our best efforts.”
Felix glances down at the assortment of ingredients and nods I agreement. “So. What are we making?”
“I am glad you ask!” Dimitri beams brightly at the question. “Sylvain would favor a peach sorbet, however we do not have the means to make that. But luckily peaches are in season at the moment and Mercedes could suggest a few options! We have settled on a peach galette. It seems to be almost like a pie but a bit easier and Mercedes assured me we would be able to do it on our own!”
Dimitri breaks off his excited rambling to glance down at Felix. He finds his boyfriend looking up at him with his eyebrows raised in amusement. There’s no smile on lips but Dimitri has long since learned to recognize it in the softness of his eyes.
Felix has to go up on his tiptoes and simultaneously tug Dimitri down a little to press a quick kiss to the corner of his mouth. “It’s going to be a disaster”, he whispers.
It doesn’t turn out a complete disaster. The dough is made easily enough in the food processor and Felix is happy to show off how well he sharpened the kitchen knives by how easily they cut through the soft skin of the peaches. The general shape turn out a bit uneven, closer resembling a potato than a circle, and the peach slices don’t quite look like the petals of a flower the way the picture in the recipe had. Overall, however, nothing burned or fell apart and Felix admits that the smell of peaches and cinnamon is pleasant. They only made one minor miscalculation: there’s not really any place to store the cake in secret until the next day. It’s an error neither of them thought of until they hear the keys jingle in the door of their apartment, half an hour before Sylvain usually comes home, and they look at each other in alarm.
“Class let out early!” Sylvain calls from the hallway and in the same moment Felix shoves at Dimitri’s shoulder urging him to do something before slamming the kitchen door shut. Dimitri blindly grabs the cake, opens the door to the oven, the closes it again, still holding the cake.
“Just put it in the oven,” Felix whispers in a way that sounds more like a yell.
“I really do not think that is a good idea,” Dimitri replies in the same tone.
They don’t get any further before the kitchen door opens.
“Hey is everything alright-,” Sylvain stops in the door frame, blinking in confusion. “What’s going on?”
Undeterred, Felix continues trying to wrestle the cake from Dimitri’s hands who simply solves the issue by lifting it far above his boyfriend’s head.
“We made you a birthday cake.” Dimitri clears his throat. “We may have forgotten that hiding a cake is not easy.”
Sylvain doesn’t immediately react, still frozen to the spot. The moment drags on long enough that Felix finally stops pestering Dimitri and turns to look at the redhead as well. Sylvain’s mouth I open in a little O-shape, his hand tightly gripping the door handle and without the hesitation he used to feel Felix steps forward to tug their boyfriend further into the kitchen.
“But neither of you eat cake,” Sylvain finally says, voice tinged with confusion.
Felix rolls his eyes. “We didn’t make it for us.”
“We know you said you did not want any presents, but it simply didn’t feel right not to get you anything and it seems like now it’s even really a present either way-“ Sylvain cuts Dimitri off with a kiss.
“You know I meant it when I said you two are enough of a gift for me,” he whispers, before gently taking the cake from Dimitri’s hands and pressing another kiss to his lips. “I love you.”
He turns to Felix, reaching out to tug him closer until they’re all standing huddled together against the counter. “And I love you,” he repeats, before kissing Felix. “I really could not ask for anything else.”
With a sudden laugh he draws away before either of them can reciprocate the kisses and bolts out of the kitchen door, holding the cake like a treasure. “But I’m still taking this gladly!”