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The Ghosts of Old Loves

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“Oh it’s a fine flat.” Moore’s keys scratched against the white painted wood of the door, leaving fresh lines among the ones already collected around the doorknob. “Bit drafty, and people have had issues with the heating, but it’s all part of the character of the place.”

Cooke hummed, glancing down the narrow hallway. “I don’t really mind all that. I just need a place closer to work.”

“Good.” Moore chuckles, throwing his shoulder slightly into the door to open it, “Maybe you’ll end up sticking around.”

“What do you mean?” Cooke stepped over the threshold carefully. The discolored hardwood was slightly uneven.

Moore shrugged, “No one’s kept this flat longer than a year. Seems like they’re always out by April.”

“Oh.” Cooke settles back, looking around the tiny flat. It was small, glowing with a soft light from the morning sun shining through the two narrow windows. The walls were of a soft green, wallpaper peeling slightly where it met the ceiling.

“Not too shabby, huh?” Moore tossed the keys onto the kitchen counter. “I’d offer to give you the tour but this is about it. Kitchen, living,” He gestures to the rooms in turn, “small bedroom in the back.”

“It’s great.” Cooke nodded, wandering over to the windows. The exposed brick is cool, this must be the drafts former tenants complained of.

“She’s holding together pretty well for being almost a hundred and fifty.”

“That old?” Cooke exclaimed. The walls seemed to stretch taller, proud of the things they’d seen.

“Yep.” Moore puffed out his chest. “Built back in 1872. Housed folks back then, still houses them now.”

“That’s incredible.” Cooke trailed his fingers along the stone of the bricked up fireplace. Rossi was gonna love the place. His boyfriend geeked out over history like no one else. “I’ll take it. This is great!”

Moore visibly relaxed, reaching into his bag for the papers needed for Cooke to sign. “Wonderful! This should only take a minute. After that, welcome home!”

 

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“I mean, yeah, it’s old,” Rossi grunted as he stacked another cardboard box onto the floor, “but it’s in pretty nice shape.”

Cooke nodded, pulling dishes out of another box to arrange in the cupboard. “The location is what I really needed. Flats in London are crazy expensive. I can’t believe I was able to afford this one.”

Rossi shrugged, coming up behind the shorter man to wrap his arms around his waist. “You work hard. You’ve earned it.”

Cooke laughed, closing the last cabinet. “This is my great reward for finishing grad school. A dusty old apartment that’s drafty enough to be affordable.”

Rossi hummed, turning to press a kiss to Cooke’s neck. “I can reward you in other ways if you want.”

Cooke sighed into the touch, hand coming up to tangle in Rossi’s hair. “What did you have in mind?”

The other man grinned against his neck, “New house. It’s only customary we christen the bedroom.”

Cooke turned in Rossi’s arms, looping his own over the man’s shoulders to draw him in for a kiss. Cooke lets their mouths move lazily against each other for a moment before drawing back, peering over Rossi’s shoulder at the towers of boxes in the living room. “We’re going to have to find the sheets first.”

“Or not.” Rossi dipped his head to kiss beneath Cooke’s jaw. “Less mess to clean up later.”

Cooke let his head tip backwards, “you can be the one to clean my mattress then.”

Rossi grumbled against his neck, pulling away to dig through the boxes. Cooke trailed after him, pulling off his jacket and letting it drop to the floor. Cooke had toed off his shoes and socks when Rossi whirled around, sheets clutched in his hand, a triumphant grin on his face. “Time to get pounded, babe!”

“Oh dear lord.” Cooke rolled his eyes, yelping when Rossi scooped him up with an arm around his waist.

Rossi laughed as he carried Cooke back to the bedroom, the smaller man clinging on like a koala, pressing kisses to Rossi’s neck and face where he could.

Rossi tossed Cooke onto the mattress, the blonde squealing as he bounced, nearly tumbling off. Cooke rushed to tuck in the mattress cover as Rossi peeled off his sweater and undershirt.

Cooke drooled at the sight of his boyfriend's broad chest, abandoning the rest of the sheets on the floor. Clambering over the bed, he pulled off his own shirt before pulling Rossi down on top of him.

“Oh darling,” Rossi whispered, pulling off his rings to set them on the bedside. Cooke gazed up at him, hair fanned out like a halo below him, glowing slightly in the morning light. “You look absolutely angelic.”

Cooke moaned as Rossi kissed him roughly. His large hands came up to Cooke’s sides, running over his pale skin and sending tremors up his spine.

“So good for me baby,” Rossi murmured against his skin, “so fucking good.”

Cooke whined in agreement, “So good for you.”

“Oh darling,” Rossi drew back, eyes going dark, “I’m going to absolutely ruin you.”

Cooke smirked, looping his legs around Rossi’s waist and pulling his hips down until their bodies were flush against each other. “Please do.”

 

 

Cooke woke up to Rossi shifting out from under him. “No,” he grumbled, reaching out to pull the taller man back down. “Stay here. Cuddles.”

Rossi laughed, sitting up, “It’s almost 4, do you not want anything to eat?”

“No,” Cooke nuzzled into the side of Rossi’s thigh, “want you.” Cooke’s stomach growled loudly in betrayal.

Rossi slipped out from under the sheet they had grabbed to tug on his clothes. “There’s a Chinese place like a block away. I can grab some and be right back.”

Cooke whined in protest. “I don’t want you to go anywhere.”

“You could come with me?”

Cooke groaned, throwing an arm over his eyes, “That’s even worse.”

“Then I’ll be back in ten.” Rossi leaned down, moving Cooke’s arm to kiss him.

Cooke hummed happily, tilting his face to try and deepen the kiss.

“Maybe later.” Rossi pulled back, taking a second to admire the afterglow that still sparkled in Cooke’s eyes. He grabbed his phone from the bedside table, tucking it in his pocket before glancing back down. “Where are my rings?”

“I dunno, maybe they fell.” Cooke rolled to the side of the bed to peer underneath it, tangling himself in the sheets in the process. He’s busy shining his phone flashlight between the floorboards when he hears Rossi call from the living room.

“I found them! They were on the fireplace.”

Cooke frowned, rolling back onto the bed. “That’s weird. I swear you took them off in here.”

Rossi shrugged, wandering back into the bedroom for his wallet. “I’ll be back soon.” He leaned down to kiss Cooke’s forehead. “Please don’t do anything stupid while I’m gone.”

“I would never.” Cooke grinned as Rossi pulled away reluctantly,a lovesick smile on the taller man’s face.

Cooke waited a second until he heard the click of the front door closing. Wrapping the sheets around himself, Cooke wandered out to the living room. Moore was right, it did get drafty. Pulling the sheets tighter, Cooke padded over to the bricked up fireplace. The mantle seemed untouched, coated in a layer of dust. Cooke could see the two small circles of where Rossi’s rings had been. Next to it, the slight outline of a handprint. Cooke looked on curiously as he set his hand on top of the outline. The handprint dwarfed his, his fingers barely stretching over the edge of the palm.

Cooke stepped back, looking at the mantle again. It wasn’t Rossi. He knew Rossi’s hands, every inch of them, enough to know that this wasn’t his. Had someone come in? While they were sleeping? Cooke turned towards the windows in alarm. Locked. Same with the door. Cooke worried his lip as he cut open one of the cardboard boxes, pulling out a pair of sweatpants and sliding them on. Who else had been in the house? Cooke racked his brain as he pulled on a fresh shirt.

Moore. Cooke snapped his fingers. That was it. The man had been here a few days ago, when Cooke was signing his lease. Moore must’ve leaned against the fireplace at some point, though Cooke couldn’t remember when. That’s it then, his brain reasoned. No one else has been in here. You’re fine. You’re safe. Cooke nodded his head in agreement with himself.

But all the same, he waited by the front door until Rossi came back.