“You’re early,” Theodorus says, huffing when her first instinct is to link their fingers together.
“You’re earlier,” she retorts back, leaning close to press a chaste kiss on his cheek.
Theo sighs, turns to look at her. If it was literally anyone else, his current expression would be called pouting, but he never quite loses the frown on his forehead, so it’s not entirely that. But if there is someone who can figure it out, translate his needs through a single gesture, pick up his wants by the tone of his voice – well, it would be her, no?
And so she leans closer; the perfume she is wearing he can vaguely match it as being his gift for her on Christmas – and he closes his eyes, sighs against her lips as she kisses him properly. She hovers a bit close to him, a bit of her lipstick is smeared around the corner of her mouth, so while she fixes his scarf (her own Christmas gift for him), he raises his hand to press his thumb against the red mark there.
She blushes, and he grins. She tugs at his hand, and together they enter the museum.
It’s just a typical day in his life, walking around wooden floored hallways, staring at paintings-clad walls. But it’s a special date for the two of them; the exhibition curated only by him. Opening night was a couple of days ago, celebratory and lovely; passed by in a flurry of her dress caught at the corner of his eye, and the smell of paint stuck to his brother’s skin. The familiarity of that, in the midst of the newness of success: Theodorus has loved it all.
But the date after is different from opening night; because she’s slow, stopping in front of each painting, her voice even as she tries to guess at the techniques and subjects that convinced him to pick exactly this one piece of art, in this exact place in the exhibit space. He loves her for her care, for her eye – sharper every time.
She always misses a thing or two, though by now Theo suspects she does it on purpose, just so that he can squeeze her hand in his, and add in his explanation. Just so that he leans over her, pointing at a certain brush stroke, his breathing stopped for half a second, as she looks up at him and their eyes catch together.
And Theodorus aches – with the knowledge of being known. And Theodorus loves – because of it, in spite of it, for the relief of it.
She’s been picking some of Vincent’s habits – and it takes Theo a bit to notice, mainly because nothing in his life changes, not immediately. The transformation is smooth: Vincent leaving for his new apprenticeship, her stuff replacing his, a house that was brotherly becoming a lover’s nest, as Arthur likes to call it.
The kitchen still smells like coffee in the morning when he’s out from his shower, and she’s blearily pressing the button of the toaster down, a jar of jam on the counter. She’s wearing his t-shirt, though it looks more like a dress – and his mug is already filled, two spoons of sugar and cinnamon already added to it.
Theo doesn’t really speak, before the first sugar rush hits (he swears it’s not the caffeine), so they sit at the small kitchen table, munching on their breakfast, looking out the window, the sun rising with each passing minute – and what a blessing it is, to have someone who makes silences easy. Then, he takes the plates – drags at the shoulder of her t-shirt, so that it covers enough skin so he doesn’t feel tempted to lose his clothes and burry himself in her welcoming warmth, and she’s the one who kisses his neck as she passes him by for the bedroom. And Theo has good mornings; different, but still making him all a bit grateful to be alive and standing here.
And of course – there’s Vincent’s art all around them, over their walls. But slowly, the shelves that only had textbooks and mainly poetry – and thick, glossy, expensive art volumes, slowly start holding long novels and even more poetry. He used to read out loud to Vincent, as he painted – now, more than ever, is her reciting something, a beloved line, something that translates into her mood, or their discussion, and without missing a beat, Theodorus fills up the missing words, and together they make a poem whole. So much – no, not knowledge, but rather, feeling shared between the two of them. He learns to translate the passage of time in volumes, rather than art pieces.
Then he waits in front of her university building, checking his emails on the phone, shivering a bit in a thin coat. There’s dark already outside, and she’s running a bit late – to the point that when she eventually stops in front of him, beaming at him, her face is flushed and her breathing ragged, with the hurry. She hugs him for a greeting, takes his hand in hers, moves their linked fingers to rest inside her pocket, warming up his frozen digits.
Theo sighs at the sensation.
“Let’s go home, yes?” she asks, a smile still on her lips, and he almost falters in his steps.
It’s not like he ever stopped thinking of that tiny apartment as home, but it’s been different before, an extension of his past, just the feel of his childhood spread to his present: the comfort of a sibling, the consistency of a craft. But now, when the word home comes out of her mouth, something shifts, the present widened into a future that has the shape of her: the certainty of love, the effort in building something together.
Theodorus hums in agreement, picks at the strap of her backpack with his other hand, straightening it.
His fingers knot in the naked skin of her back, oily with the cream he ran to the pharmacy to get, and she moans. He’s straddling her body, each knee on one side of her waist, as she’s resting her head on a pillow, most words muffled in the material. She’s been hunched over her laptop, writing essays and commissions for days now, her shoulders sagging with each hour, position visibly worsening.
When not even Theo’s gentle chiding to take a break worked anymore, he decided to take a more hands-on approach to this issue. It involved a very sharp and high-pitched yelp in his ear, as he looped his arms around her body – one under her arm, the other under her legs, and carried her all the way to their shared bedroom. The tug at her blouse might have initially suggested something else, but the gentle hands, softly moving her body in the position he needed her, hinted at care, and not hunger.
He unclasps her bra, so he can more easily press his palm against the tensioned knots in her muscles. She sighs, murmuring his name – and Theo swears something in Dutch which makes her chuckle even as two of the words go over her head.
She wiggles her butt, trying to squirm under him, chasing the relief in his touch. Her body is turning to mush under his tender ministrations, all while his turns tenser and tenser, having her under him.
She moves again – a hand comes up to push his away, as she rolls around to face him. Theo pulls a face.
“You’re staining the sheets,” he says, observation but not complaint, eyes very ungentlemanly dropping to where one of her breasts are spilling out of her open bra.
She licks her lips.
“Theodorus,” she starts – and waits for him to look her in the eye, properly, before her hand rises to tease at his belt. “Fuck me.”
He chuckles, swatting her fingers away even as he grows inside his pants.
“You’re on a deadline,” he says, leaning over her just to kiss away the pout appearing at his comment.
“But,” she whines, hands resting at his waist so he stays put right there. “I work better if relaxed?”
It sounds like a questions; he frowns at her, his eyes, though, a shade darker.
“And what was my work until now for?” he teases, though his hands are already moving to throw away her bra, cup her breasts in his hold.
She gasps, raising her hips to meet his, making him swear.
“I can do the work then,” she suggests instead, and she’s pushing at his shoulders.
Theo falls on his back on the bed most willingly. She takes a minute to throw away her pants – panties still on, and he chuckles, darkly, at her eagerness, when her next move is to drag his off him.
His dick springs free, hard already – she cocks an eyebrow at him.
“With the way you were moaning…” he throws as an explanation, explanation caught in his throat as she comes to straddle his hips, to kiss him properly.
Her lips against his, all soft and tender, tongue coating his mouth open, a gasp swallowed in love. He’s feeling light-headed and she’s just been… disarmingly herself, disarmingly wanting. His hands come to rest on her knees, as she shuffles her body over his painfully needy length.
She looks up at him, grins really, as a finger comes to drag at the material of her panties – enough to reveal her glistening pussy.
“Hondje,” Theo threatens, when she rocks her hips above him only a couple of times, before slowly taking him in.
“It’s,” she starts and is interrupted by a soft sigh, as she slides down the rest of the way, her knees trembling, his thumb soothingly pressing against the skin there. “fine.”
He rises just enough to kiss her nose, and she blinks up at him.
“Take all the time you need,” he says, and his mouth descends, hungrily, over one of her nipples, his fingers moving to the other.
Her hands hook around his back, nails digging in the material of his shirt. She regrets not taking it off, now; she wishes she could leave some marks. But like this, lavished in touches and kisses and bites and attention, she relaxes – and when he tugs particularly painfully at her nub, her hips surge forward.
Theo grins, wolfishly. She steadies, holding onto his shoulders as, unprompted and unhelped, she starts moving. He loves to see her like this: needy and working for it, hair sticking to the sweat at her forehead, tits bouncing in front of his face, gasps and moans and curses coursing between her lips. He likes to be here for her pleasure and pleasure only.
His hand snakes between their bodies, finger pressing against her clit. Her hips buckle; she sputters broken words, his name somewhere between them – as she comes above him. He swears, bites at her shoulder, but softly enough that it is just a weak attempt at muffling his strangled moan.
She kisses at his eyebrow, rocks her hips so she gets a reaction out of him, smiling all prettily and spent. Fuck, why did he think this was a bad idea in the first place?
She yelps when he switches positions again, her hair sprawled in her pillows, him above her this time around. He doesn’t give her any time to make sense of the new situation, pounding in her with the hunger of the man who has been tantalizingly teased for the past hour. Both their bodies smell like the rubbing cream he’s used, her skin soft all over, her pussy as welcoming as he has ever known it.
He swears every time he has never felt this good, and each time he somehow gets to enjoy it more. She’s sensitive and greedy, so when he finally comes, grunt at her ear, her cunt tightening around him, Theo wants to do it all over again.
His body drapes over her; just seemingly, as he’s holding most of his weight on his elbows, but he’s close enough that she can nibble at his earlobe, and pat his butt, which gets a tired chuckle out of him, as they both regain their breath.
Her body jolts, and she’s shoving him away.
“Fuck, my deadline!”
She throws her underwear in a corner of the room, after she used it to clean the mess between her legs, and bypasses a new one all together as she drags his pair of sweats over her hips, his t-shirt over her head. He throws an arm over his forehead, torn between laughing at her and not wanting her to turn around and throw her bra at him.
And then, she’s out the door, Theo’s shout after her.
“I’ll wash the sheets!”
She sighs; it has been torture enough to wait until her exact birthday to open the present he has sent (per his instructions), on top of having him away at all on the date. But she understands it; things happen and Vincent’s success is, objectively speaking, more important for the greater good and humanity.
As someone who has cried during his last exhibition, she gets it.
Doesn’t make missing Theodorus any easier.
So when the clock passes the 11:59 mark, she drapes a blanket over her shoulder and she makes her way to the corner of the living room where she hid the weirdly wrapped box (Theo’s good with ribbons only in the bedroom). Out of sight, out of mind, she thought – but as all things Theo, the rules don’t necessarily apply.
“Okay, asshole, you better make me cry,” she says in the empty apartment, ripping apart the wrapping paper.
One tiny box awaits her; her hands shake a bit as she holds it, opens it. Resting on a beautifully dark purple satin material, a golden necklace depicting the sun, matches with a pair of star-shaped earrings: a beautiful set altogether. Her fingers gently trace the details. At the bottom of the first box, an envelope.
Though maybe that’s not an accurate way to call you. You’ve entered my life so determinedly, so fully – like light hits a new born, like love overwhelms the youth, and while there are thousands – unlimited wonders about you, and while it will take me thousands of light years to even get a hint at all of them, maybe it’s not quite enough anymore.
I’ve been thinking lately, as your birthday approached, as my gratitude for your existence grows with each passing day, at my place in your world, your place in my world. It feels a bit weird to talk about us separately, no? So maybe I was thinking, instead, at the new world we are creating.
You’ve made things more beautiful – and beautiful here means easier, more worthy of love, more bearable. You’ve made it easier to be me, because you’ve encouraged who I was. There are hundreds of poems I now know because it pleases you, and will you call me a cheesy bastard if I tell you that’s the biggest success of my life?
But maybe if that made you smile, that would be the number one instead.
I won’t reiterate what we already but well know: life is hard, but you move through it gracefully. May you continue to do so – and may you know there’s a resting place always available to you and its name is Theodorus’ heart. You might be familiar with that place; I’ve kept inviting you over.
You already know I’m not good at words – but I still try, because you are. Because words mean something more than what they’re saying, because in my handwriting there’s more than just looped letters, because a piece of paper can be the comforting anchor of someone in need. I think you taught me that as well.
So maybe what I am trying to say without having to necessarily say it: I love you. I love you like the moon loves the stars. And I love you like the moon loves the sun. You’ve lightened up my life, you shined your bright gentleness even in my darkest corners – and there’s nothing but love that I can properly give in return, and while I know it’s not enough, I hope you’ll let me try to pay you back for my entire life.
Is that too much? Is that too soon? But I like your name right next to mine, and I like that together we can fill up an entire sky.
Are the metaphors eluding me? Failing me? Is that enough?
You are the sun.
And I your worshipper.
Theodorus Van Gogh
She presses a phone number that she knows by heart – and waits, heart beating in her throat, for the ringing to stop –
“Happy birthday, my heart.”
“You made me cry, you cheesy bastard.”
And Theodorus chuckles, the hint of relief and tears in his tone as well.