“You think they’re going to be all right?” His voice is soft and low, murmuring as if it was a necessity though it hardly is unless they’re trying to not spook whatever wild life there might be around in the woods.

“We’re only going to be gone for a few hours, Yael, they’ll be just fine, honestly. At times you worry far, far too much. They are cats and growing kittens, not newborns, helpless infants. Why are we whispering?” There is a gentle note of amusement to Quentin’s voice as he shoulders his bag a little more and turns down another slighter path. They’ve decided that now was a good time to finally explore, somewhat, the woods behind their home.

“I don’t know!” The reply still comes in a whispered tone though Yael laughs moment later as he straightens to follow his companion deeper into the woods. Every few yards he ties a bit of ribbon to a tree branch at eye-level so he knows where he’s going and which way they will be coming back from. “I can’t help worrying about them, I’ve never been out of the house for any long period of time since I’ve moved in.”

A true sort of fact and not because he’d rather be inside. He has been out for walks, out for evenings with friends and out to get fresh bread and jam in the mornings. He merely has more interesting in spending time inside with their growing pets or up in the garden when he’s not in his studio, letting his imagination finally get the better of him again.

“We’ll only be gone some hours. At most we’ll be back by nightfall. I have the flashlights with me and snacks and you’ve got a few other tidbits I packed up in your bag too. We’re just playing explorer in our own woods, that’s all. I know we have a river a slight distance off but I can’t recall which way it was. Are you marking the trees?”

Yael nods and looks back to their trail with a soft chuckle. “I am and I finally found a use for those awful ribbons you still had a whole box of.”

Quentin blushes deeply and his face closes up for a heartbeat as he looks apologetic in ways that are hard to comprehend; at least for those who might not understand the situation, that is. He stays quiet for the next fifteen or so minutes as they simply walk, following an almost path that is clear on the ground, a natural sort of trail.

After some hours of mostly mindless walking though they made sure to not go around in circles, they settle in a slight clearing. The day is humid and the bare breeze that ruffles the branches around them is hardly enough to cool them down.

“I think I saw a doe a little while back. We managed to not spook her.” Yael pulls the back off his shoulder as he flops down on a patch of ground he’s swept as clean as it might get. He digs through it and pulls out two containers. They’re still fresh from resting against the icepack that had been settled in with them to keep them edible.

He hands one of the boxes over and in exchange he gets a juice box and an apple. He looks up above his head and squints against the dappling sun to try to see through to the sky though he can hardly make anything out, the foliage is thick and the light only comes through in patches though they’re enough to partially blind him when he looks up.

“Any idea where we are?”

Quentin shakes his head and shrugs as he takes a bit of his sandwich. “None honestly though I know we’re still on our land, we’d have crossed fences otherwise. I know which way we came though, the markers you’ve set up are visible enough.”

“They’re ribbons.”

“I’m aware they’re ribbons, I’m just trying to not bring up that word around you as I know it’s not one of your favourite.” The words are offered with a bit of a strain though Quentin sighs and shakes his head.

“Quentin, I’m not holding a grudge here. I’m just glad I found a use for these things else they would have kept on going to waste, I’m not even sure why they still were in the house. It happened, we can’t go back in time and change that. It was almost a year ago. I forgave you and Eoghan both when it happened. Mentioning the word ‘ribbons’ isn’t going to start me convulsing or something, I’m fine. I just don’t want them anywhere near my hair, that’s all.”

“Okay, okay, I give. I just want you happy and I know that moment in our lives was nowhere near happy. I honestly think I forgot I still had these in the house I swear I thought I’d gotten all of them thrown out.”

Yael only smiles softly as he takes another bite of his sandwich. He knows that things from the past need to stay in the past, like his thoughts on Sterling. He knows he should bring those up to Quentin, bring to attention that somehow the past had found its way to him again and he has been having dreams involving his long dead friend. Nothing to scar him but the man hadn’t crossed his mind in a long time now.

“Let’s just eat some more, explore a bit longer and head home. This place is beautiful but this heat is going to kill us before we really get anywhere.”

“I guess we should explore in spring or autumn, huh?” Quentin laughs softly and not far from them a bird takes off to the sky, startled by the sudden sound.

When they finally break through from the woods and step back onto the cleared out area that is their back yard, the moon is beginning to rise to its place in the sky. Yael puts away his flashlight and Quentin follows suit as they start their way across the semi-dark yard. They know the area is clear of debris and they have no need to be overly careful of where they step.

“I’m starving and I stink, I don’t know which I have to take care of first.” Quentin’s words are thoughtful as he walks along Yael’s side, watching their home draw closer with every step.

Yael chuckles softly and shrugs as he brushes a bit of damp hair from his face. The day had been exceptionally hot, a bit uncomfortable really but he was glad he’d worn his hair up in the morning before they left.

“Well, I suppose you could go on and shower while I prepare us a meal but you might miss out on all those little playful extras that are always fun to discover when we conserve some water and shower together.” His voice is low, there is an undertone to it that Quentin has learned to know over time and his lips quirk into a smile as he nods.

“We prepare something to eat, or I suppose I can let you do that while I check in on the cats and make sure they have plenty of food to last them up until morning, we eat and then we see about making sure we’re absolutely clean, yes?”

“Sounds like a plan.”

As they step inside and begin to part ways, Quentin stops and turns briefly, his head canted. “Did you have fun today, Yael?”

Blinking, Yael stops and turns somewhat to face his companion and lover. The question confuses him somewhat, he knows he’s made it clear he had appreciated the day so he’s not overly certain of the reason behind the question. “Of course I did, Quentin. Any time I spend with you is time well spent and is time I enjoy. It was fun to discover the forest a bit though we did mostly just wander aimlessly and almost get lost. I had a good day, thank you.”

Quentin’s shoulders sag slightly in relief though he smiles brightly and does go on his way.

There is so much to explore, he knows. They still have a long way to go.


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