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A thousand years

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Callum wakes up in bliss. It must still be early, because there’s still the first rays f sunlight catching on the curtains, throwing glowing shapes onto the walls behind their bed, lighting everything up with this ethereal golden glow. The window is still a little open from last night, so there’s a soft breeze blowing through it, cooling the room just perfectly, and making the curtains rustle every so often . He can just about hear the sounds of a couple of birds chirping in one of the trees down the road, but it’s quiet, just background noise. There’s nothing else, but the sound of Ben’s soft breaths beside him. The whole room feels like a dream in it’s perfection, but Ben- he’s just something else. One ray of light just catches on him, making the bare skin of his shoulder shine, and the lighter strands of his hair glow like gold. He looks so at peace, when he’s asleep, in a way Callum doesn’t think he’s ever seen him look when he’s awake. He looks younger, like a different man but Ben all the same. Callum can’t help but wonder what he’s ever done to deserve to see Ben like this, at his most vulnerable, his most beautiful, but he won’t question it, for fear of losing the privilege. He doesn’t dare move from where he’s laid, either, so that he doesn’t wake him. Ben’s head rests on his chest, an ear over the place where his heart beats in his chest, a rhythm that Ben so often falls asleep to. It’s how they sleep most often now- Ben’s lost so much, struggled so much with how much his life has changed lately, the feeling of Callum’s heart beating against Ben’s cheek has become a comfort Callum would never deny him, not least because the face of bliss that’s painted across his face when he settles there is one of Callum’s favourite looks on Ben. Their legs are tangled together under the sheets, every part of them impossibly intertwined. One hand rests on Ben’s own pillow, and the other rests just over Callum’s collarbone. His thumb had been stroking over the skin oh so delicately last night, but now it’s just a steady, gentle pressure, reminding Callum that he’s there, that this is really real. Callum’s hand is curled into the hair at the base of Ben’s neck, stroking over it unconsciously, in a way that makes Ben almost purr in his sleep. His arm’s almost dead with the weight of Ben’s head, but he can’t bring himself to care, not when moving it would almost certainly break this little oasis they’ve got. He wouldn’t dare, especially not when he knows how little of a morning person Ben is. He just lies still, breathes in the scent of Ben’s shampoo and sleep, and watches how Ben’s chest rises and falls with each and every breath.

It could be a few seconds or a few minutes later that Ben starts to shift on his chest. Callum’s become so distracted by staring at him that he doesn’t notice at first, and when he realises he’s about to be caught, a blush climbs up his cheeks and settles on his ears.

Ben groans a little, in the way Callum’s noticed he always does first thing in the morning, as if being awoken from his sleep is a direct aggression towards him by the universe. It never fails to make him giggle, and it’s just another one of those things that he’d never thought he’d be allowed to know about any other man, let alone Ben.  It’s one of those things that he takes pride in knowing because he knows no one else does, and there’s a protective spark that runs through him at that thought. It makes him wonder if maybe Ben feels the same way, if there are any facts about him that Ben’s so fiercely protective over. He doesn’t think so, he’s a pretty boring person, really, but he thinks Ben might know him better than himself at this point.

Ben shifts away from him a little at first, and something drops in Callum’s stomach when he thinks Ben’s going to get out of bed. Instead, he reaches across to the bedside table where the connection for his implant is, and connects it up to the spot just above his ear. Callum strokes his thumb just over the sensitive spot at the base of Ben’s neck as he does it, the same way he always does. He thinks at this point it’s just as much of a comfort to him as it is to Ben.

Ben groans again as he settles back into Callum’s chest, and it turns into croaky, whispered words, eventually. “Mornin’.”

“Good morning, sleepy head,” Callum replies, and he relishes in the little grins that curls onto Ben’s face at the nickname. “You sleep okay?”

Ben hums in answer, and at first Callum thinks that maybe that’s all he’s going to get before ben falls back into almost-sleep. He’s allowed to this morning, because neither of them are at work, and so Callum wouldn’t be surprised if he took advantage of that.

“Say again?” he murmurs instead, and turns his head so that their looking right at each other, and Ben’s eyes are trained on his lips.

Sorry, he signs then speaks again, making sure Ben’s looking at him. “You sleep okay?”

The smile that comes onto Ben’s face as he hears Callum speak almost brings tears to Callum’s own eyes. It’s this unfiltered wonder, in a way that he never thought could actually be directed to him. It is, though, and ben does the same thin most mornings now, when he hears Callum’s voice.

Ben nods just slightly, before closing his eyes again.

“You make a good pillow,” he mutters eventually, and Callum can’t hold back a little giggle. No one else gets to see this beautifully innocent side of Ben. That’s not something ordinary Ben would be caught dead saying, and yet it’s not even nearly the first time Callum’s heard it from him.

“What you laughing at?” Ben asks as the laughter obviously vibrates through his chest, right where Ben can feel it under his cheek, fake indignance in his voice that only makes Callum giggle more. “What?”

“Nothing!” Callum whispers, and he signs along with his words, Ben opening his eyes to track the movement. He brings his hand to stroke just under Ben’s chin, and tilts it up just slightly so, hopefully, Ben will get the hint and Callum can see his eyes. Their gazes catch and all of a sudden, Callum can’t look away, never actually wants to. Ben’s eyes have this hold over him- they’re deep blue, and there’s so much in them. Callum reckons, given the chance, he could tell exactly what Ben was feeling just from them, they’re that expressive. No one else sees it, and he thinks that maybe no ne else gets to. It’s just another one of those things that are just for him, that make him feel like this world between him and Ben truly is their own. Callum gets this whole other side to Ben that no one else does, and it’s bliss.

“I love you,” Ben mutters, and the words warm him right to his toes, love thrumming through his body like adrenaline, coursing through is veins like he needs it to survive.

(He thinks, to some extent, he does now. Callum can’t think what his life would be like without Ben’s love, not after all this time.)

Callum shifts one hand from where it’s been laying at the base f Ben’s neck to the top of his bac, where he knows Ben can easily feel the movement. His fingers track the letters easily, words like a secret he’s whispered, traced and kissed into Ben’s skin a thousand times before, words that Callum thinks are the truest thing he’s ever said, the truest thing he will ever say, except maybe I do-

But that’s a thought for another day.

“I love you,” Callum says slowly, as he imprints the words into Ben’s skin. The other man closes his eyes, as if he’s falling into the feeling. Callum’s not sure if he’ll hear him saying it, especially as he’s evidently paying attention to the sensations on his back, but he says it for himself too. It’s a way to remind himself that this really is all real, really is his. It’s a concrete reminder that he really can have this, for as long as Ben wants him too.

When his hand stills, Ben opens his eyes again and shifts upwards, so that he can press their lips together. Callum thinks that these morning kisses might just be his favourite, where everything still feels a little overwhelmed by the haze of sleep, and they’re just existing, here in each other’s arms.

It really couldn’t be more perfect, not in Callum’s eyes.

Ben shifts away eventually, and rolls back a little, so it’s more comfortable for him to watch Callum sign if he needs to. It’s a sign that Ben’s got something they need to talk about, and Callum desperately attempts to wake his brain up from the haze it’s currently stuck in.  

“You’re off work today, right?” Ben asks a second or two later.

“Yeah,” Callum replies, signing along.

“You want to do something with Lexi today? I’m off all day too and I thought Lola could do with the break,” he asks.

There it is- that familiar little thrum of anxiety that accompanies the thought of being with Lexi. He hates it, because right after he feels it there’s the pulse of guilt, because he loves her to pieces, but sometimes the thought of being with her, being responsible for her, even though Ben’s there, all sorts of doubts just come crawling into his head- it's literally just his own mind that's the problem. It's the way that he's convinced himself he's going to do something wrong, upset her or hurt her in some way, because he's got no clue how to be a parent- fuck, is he even a parent to her? It's not like he exactly has a good example of what stellar parenting is- an absentee mother and an alcoholic father is nothing to write home about. It's these same thoughts every time, this same cycle wreaking havoc in his own mind every time that reminds him he's not ready for this, not ready to have influence over a child like that. Because what if something goes wrong? Ben will hate him, and he'll ruin everything, spoil this perfect little oasis they have-

"Hey, what's going on?"

Ben’s voice leaks into his consciousness, and brings him back from the spiral that his mind takes him to. He realises he’s not said anything yet, and, fuck, Ben now probably thinks e doesn’t want to spend time with her, which he does, it’s just fucking hard sometimes in a way he doesn’t understand himself enough to properly explain-

“Cal?” Ben says again, and now there’s worry in his voice. He shifts so Callum can see him sat next to him, and Callum hates the look on his face- loves it, in a way, because he feels cared for, loved in  a way he’s never felt before but hates that people have to worry about him now.

“Sorry,” Callum says first, and reaches out for Ben’s hand before he can stop himself. He craves reassurance like this, in a way he used to be ashamed of. He still sometimes is, but he’s working on it. It helps, of course, that Ben loves to hold him just as much as Callum loves to be held. Ben’s fingers stroke over his knuckles oh so gently, and it settles something in him.

“We don’t have to see Lexi if you don’t want to,” Ben says, but there’s something in his face, a kind of protectiveness and it’s as if Callum can see the way his walls are starting to come up. He squeezes Ben’s hand to make the other man look at him.

“No, no, I want to,” Callum says. “I love her, you know that. It’s just…”

He trails off, because he’s back to this, back to the feeling that he doesn’t understand how to explain.

“Talk to me,” Ben says, and the look in Ben’s eyes makes him want to try to explain.

“Am I alright with her?” Callum blurts out, before he can properly think about it.

Ben looks at him confused for a minute, and Callum thinks at first that maybe Ben didn’t understand him, until he goes to speak.

“Babe, you’re amazing with her. She adores ya, you know she does,” he says, and there’s worry mixed with pride in his eyes, and Callum shines a little under the praise. “What’s going on in that head of yours?”

“I just- I don’t want to do anything wrong,” he says. And Ben just gives him this soft smile, and it’s one of the most beautiful sights Callum’s ever seen.

“You won’t, you haven’t, ever,” Ben says, and lifts his hands to where Callum can see them clearly. I promise you, he signs.

“I love you,” is all Callum can say in response, because the emotion just floods through him too fast for him to process. Ben leans forward, and their lips connect again, and it’s pure bliss.

He knows they’ll talk about it properly later. Ben will ask him about it, hold his hand through it, ground him. For now, though, they just exist together, in this perfect moment.