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It’s early evening when it kicks in. It’s late enough for the sun to have set, but the heat of the day is still thick in the air, caressing Sapnap’s arm hair as he watches the frames of an anime he’s seen before flicker through his computer screen. He sinks into his chair, letting his toes curl in the carpet beneath his feet. His tongue feels thick and heavy in his mouth, like it isn’t quite his own, and yet he feels with more clarity than he normally would. 


He misses George. Or, he doesn’t miss him. It’s hard to miss someone you’ve yet to meet in person. He yearns for him. He yearns to hear his voice in his headphones, his attempt at not smiling audible in his laughter. He yearns to see the raw redness of his lips as the curl into a grin as they banter.


Sapnap opens discord, checking George’s profile. A green dot blooms in the bottom right, his name subtitled with Playing CS: GO


He presses the Start Voice Call icon, letting the horrendously loud dial tone drill down his ears. Before he has time to think about the fact that he should’ve asked George first, the bass-filled tone is replaced with quiet static and the voice of an angel. 


“Hey Sapnap,” George welcomes, his voice distant and focused on something that isn’t Sapnap . Sapnap digs his toes into the carpet, letting the surround sound of George’s voice paint over his body in waves. But he wants George’s attention. 


"Georgey," Sapnap taunts, voice breathy and low, sing-songing his name. “Say my name again, it’s so pretty coming from your mouth" he requests, letting his grin fill his words, and lets the laughter burble through. He’s only half-joking when he says it.


Nick ,” George replies, sharp and pointed. He holds his firmness for a moment before it dissolves into laughter that echoes Sapnap’s own. “What is wrong with you?” George deflects, filling the space in between each bubble of laughter that escapes him. Sapnap pulls himself together, chewing on his thoughts. 


“Your voice is just nice,” he reveals, words soft as he eyes George’s discord profile icon, watching the outline bounce from grey to green. His eyelids feel very, like he’s being pulled in to his other senses and needs to cut off his sight to feel it. “Can’t blame a guy for wanting to hear it,” he murmurs, the admission quiet in the dark of his room. He is quiet after that, and lets the words hang in the air between them, thousands of miles apart. He is patient and content in the audience of George’s keys clicking away.


"Are you high?" George asks after what feels like minutes, but is more likely seconds, or maybe hours. There’s nothing in his voice beyond curiosity and a dash of confusion. 


"Doesn't make it untrue,” Sapnap promises him. He licks his lips, and feels the chapped skin stick to the underside of his tongue before it pulls away. He burrows further into his chair, lifting his left knee to rest his heel on the edge of the seat.

“Alright, sure,” George huffs, voice full of sarcasm. They both know Sapnap isn’t lying - he’d compliment George whether sober or not. But without being sober, the line of jokes and ribbing versus genuine adoration blur, and Sapnap feels bold. 


“Turn on your face cam?” Sapnap begs, forcing his eyes to hold a blink longer, hoping to dispel the dryness in his eyes. George groans at that, feigned exasperation.


"Ugh, you're so annoying," he tells Sapnap, full of affection. He does it anyway. The discord application is grey, and it matches George’s bedroom walls and carpet, his anthracite sheets and dark bedframe blending into the background. And there he sits, warm skin and smile and eyes like pools of molasses he gets caught in. Sapnap hears himself whistle before he feels it, a low and drawn out thing. 


Look at you, George,” he breathes, a groan punctuating his sentence. George is an artwork behind a velvet rail, and it pains him to not be able to touch. George’s smile doesn’t falter, but his brows furrow in confusion. “You’re so handsome, doll,” Sapnap murmurs, words slow and deep, and he knows they surround George like an unbreakable hug. Sapnap watches him close his eyes, watches the redness in his cheeks brew. After a breath, George opens his eyes and rolls them, his head following the movement, jostling his hair.


“Your hair is so fluffy ,” Sapnap tells him, watching the way the strands bobs with the movement of George’s head. “I bet it’s real soft,” he continues, swallowing around the words, “wanna run my hands through it.” George bristles at that, sinking into his chair at Sapnap’s words. 


Stop , Sapnap,” George snaps, but there’s no bite behind it, not even a teasing one. His cheeks darken, the redness bleeding across his nose and down the length of his neck now, too. 


“Are you blushing?” Sapnap asks, his head bobbing with the force of the words as they escape his mouth, uninvited. “Looks real nice on you, toots,” he praises, letting the pet name settle on his tongue, foreign, but not unwelcome. He watches George swallow, eyes the way his adam’s apple raises and lowers against the roll of the muscles in his neck. George hums affirmingly. 


"And who's fault is that?" George pokes, indirect as usual with his feelings. Sapnap pokes back.


"You tell me, George,” he drawls. Sapnap watches George fidget for a moment, restless in his chair under the thumb of Sapnap’s eye, even across an ocean.


In the quiet between them, Sapnap lets himself relish in the feelings that set his nerves alight. He tips his head back and looks to the ceiling, heavy eyelids closing on him. It feels like all his other senses are heightened, and he wants to enjoy it with George. He feels like he’s floating, still, in a pool on a summer’s evening. He feels the cool draft that blows through his window and the way it raises the hairs on his arm, and tastes the remnants of heavy chocolate in his mouth. He hears George sniffle, and remembers what he risks missing out on by closing his eyes. 


He opens his eyes again, waiting for the fuzziness to dissipate, bringing the pixels in front of him into clarity. There George sits, unchanged from seconds before, warmth surrounded by a world of grey, a beacon of sunlight in a rainstorm. 


" Pretty ," Sapnap murmurs, his mouth and thoughts tied together in a concise message. He watches George’s eyes flutter shut under the praise, his grin impossibly wide. He watches George test the taste of a few syllables before he settles on new ones.


“You’re an idiot,” he concedes, not an ounce of fight in his retort. Sapnap feels the stupid grin as it pulls at the corners of his lips, feels the way it tugs at the chapped skin and threatens to split the tender skin. 


“But you love me,” Sapnap taunts, knowing he’s won. What they were competing for, he isn’t sure, but he’s confident he’s won. 


“I do,” George’s words come, so soft his microphone struggles to report its findings to Sapnap. “Now log on,” he orders, “I’ve lost way more rank thank I’m comfortable with without you on my team.”


George loses another two rank, all while sapnap waxes poetic about the shape of his lips and the curtain of his dark eyelashes. It feels like a win in both their eyes.