being bold

They had all been more than a little curious as they had left after the viewing of the painting. Everyone snagging a cookie or two before they went on their way. Yael had waved them off, leaning lightly against Quentin as he did. He looked exhausted and Quentin knew it wasn’t all that surprising. This had been a lot of stress for a single young man to go through, after all.

“Why don’t we get some rest? Tomorrow is going to be a big day, all the setting up and preparing. We have to decide what we’re preparing for that meal. It’s been some time since we’ve last cooked for so many people.” Yael still was leaning slightly against him at that point though once the door closed and the last of their guest was one, he turned to his companion, one brow quirked slightly.
“What are you preparing?”

“That’s a surprise, love, please humour me and go with me on it all? Just think of it as having everyone over, it’s been forever and I feel like preparing food for everyone, something simple but delicious.”

“Hot pot?”

“The one with the meat and veggies and at times tofu where everyone cooks their food themselves in the broth? Rice and salads on the side?”

Yael nodded, rubbing his eyes as he started to walk away from the door. He felt absolutely exhausted at this point and he knew that sleep would do him some good.

“That is actually a wonderful idea, we’ve never done that before, not even with Eoghan and his trips around the world, we’ll just need to get at least two pots but that’s something I can do tomorrow. I can get some beef, some shrimp and veggies. I’ll look online to find more information and I’ll do all that shopping. On Friday afternoon we can start slicing and dicing stuff, sounds good?”

“Sounds good.”

So that was it there. They had sliced and diced, prepared plates, put them back in the fridge to keep certain four-legged fur balls from getting into the plates, they had prepared enough sauces they knew they’d have more leftovers than they knew what to do with it all. They had set up the table, prepared the broths (conveniently they used the broth Quentin had been preparing when Yael had finished his painting two days back), set everything up.

By the time their guests started arriving, the broths were beginning to bubble. Seats were taken at the table, plates handed out and, for this particular occasion, an occasion no one but Quentin understood the significance of yet, they even had wine. Even the twins were handed slight cups. Mira scrunched his nose at his own and was offered a glass of water instead.

The meal was eaten, the air filled with chatter and discussion about everything and nothing of importance, as usually was the case for their shared suppers. Several times over the course of the meal, Quentin left the table, looking into the fridge, as if to check to make sure that whatever he was worried about still was where it was meant to be.

Once the meal was done, he shooed everyone to the family room where the new painting had been hung onto the wall. Eoghan stayed behind along with Mira to help put things away, to help clear up the table. Once the table was clear, it was Eoghan’s turn to gently shoo Mira off to join the other, telling him they would be joining the lot of them shortly.

Finally alone with Quentin, Eoghan tilted his head somewhat to the side, a curious note escaping him. He looked down to the very nervous looking Quentin and set his hands on those shoulders. Quentin stopped his almost pacing and looked up, his eyes wide. There was a tiny hint of fear in them but Eoghan refrained from digging into the other’s mind.

“How about you tell me what this is all about?” He kept his voice low, knowing it wouldn’t carry over the talking being done in the family room.

Quentin licked his lips to moisten them as best as he could. He swallowed around a lump in his throat. Instead of answering, he opened the fridge and brought out a beautiful cake, already sliced in eight portions. Along with the cake he brought out a bottle of champagne.

Eoghan looked at both items, still confused and Quentin stepped closer. He moved to stand on the tip of his toes and once his lips were as close as he could manage to his friend’s ear, he whispered something. As he leaned back, Eoghan’s eyes widened. “Really?”

Breathing in deeply, Quentin nodded. He rubbed the back of his neck and rolled his shoulders. “I think this is the single boldest thing I’ll ever do in my life and I just want it to be right.”

Eoghan chuckled, patting Quentin on the shoulder gently. “Here, let’s just set the cake, along with the plates, the flutes, the forks and the champagne on this tray, we bring everything down to the family room. You do your thing and we pop open the champagne, sounds good?”

Again, Quentin licked his lips to try to get some moisture to them. He patted his pockets and nodded. “Okay.”

Eoghan smiled down to him once more and gathered everything onto the tray. Quentin walked to the family room, Eoghan nearly at his heels. The tray was set down and Quentin cleared his throat gently. Silence settled over their guests.

“Yael, could you come here, please?” Eoghan stepped to stand next to Lex, leaning comfortably against him. Yael moved away from the window and stepped closer. Once he was close enough, Quentin took Yael’s hand in his and eased down to one knee. Eoghan hid his grin as best as he could and the rest of their company stood, eyes just a little wide. Yael’s eyes were widest of them all.

“Yael, some people would think I’m crazy. A lot of people think I’m an asshole, I can’t stand most humans. When you entered my life, you changed me. You made me a better person, you helped me learn patience. I know our relationship hasn’t been an overly long one but every day, as I wake up, I tell myself that I couldn’t spend my life with anyone else. You’re all I want in life.”

He paused them, looking up to those icy-blue eyes, a film of tears covering them. “I don’t even know if we can make this work here but I don’t really care. I’m honestly doing this so you know how much you mean to me, so you know that I want to spend the rest of my life with you and that if you ever decided to move on, I think- no, I know I wouldn’t be able to let you go.”

As he offered those last few words, he clicked open the box he had been keeping in his pocket all meal long. It was a slim sort of box, black and velvety. Inside, a ring. It wasn’t overly fancy, it was a simple band with a long stone embedded into it. Inside, a few words engraved in a language long lost.

“Will you be mine until the very end of times?” The room was silent, eyes wide from all parties, even Eoghan who looked on, breath held as a single tear ran down Yael’s cheek. His lips pulled into a smile and he nodded. His other hand was in front of his mouth, as if unable to really believe what was going on, it didn’t seem as if it could be real, not at all.

Relief flooded him at that nod and Quentin slipped that simple, but oh so beautiful ring onto Yael’s finger. The fit was perfect.

He eased to his feet, Yael nearly throwing himself at Quentin and they hugged. Applause rose from their mock-crowd.

“This is so very wonderful, I’m almost jealous that Yael is the first one of us to get a ring.” He shot a glance to Lex who looked to Quentin and Yael in turn, the laughed and Eoghan blinked. “You guys are going to have to tell me what’s so funny. Later though, much later, for now, cake and champagne!”

He reached for the bottle, popping the cork and managing, surprisingly, to not get champagne foam everywhere. He filled in glasses while Lex took a moment to place the cake to the plates. He stepped to Eoghan however, a soft chuckle escaping him. “Thing is, I thought about putting a ring on that finger of yours, last Christmas. It’s what all that jewellery was meant for, I didn’t think we were ready for the ring itself.”

Eoghan looked up to him, his eyes widening again though he laughed in turn, handing out flutes as Lex handed out cake plates. This was a day that was meant to be celebrated to the very end and back.

what you see

He couldn’t really remember the exact moment he had started working on this portrait. For its size alone, he figured the term ‘mural’ was best fitting but that wasn’t right either. It was on a large canvas, thus not a mural and it wasn’t simply a painting of one person from the shoulders up so a portrait wasn’t right either. He had no terms for it and it didn’t really matter. What mattered was that he was done.

He looked at it from all possible angles and he couldn’t find anything that might have seemed wrong or missing with it. The more he had worked on it, the more he was afraid he was doing too much but now that he looked at it, now that he saw it in the clear light of day as it poured into his studio, it was perfect.

Yael looked down to his paint covered arms and laughed. This wasn’t new. This was as far from new as it could ever had been possible. Working on this particular painting had left him with paint everywhere on his person, from his arms, to his face and up in his hair. He shook his head and wiped his hands clean on his pants, those were as stained as the rest. He opened the door to his studio and looked briefly out to see if he could spot his companion.

“Quentin?” He called out, voice thoughtfully quiet, almost afraid the other demon might have been busy in his own work room.

From the kitchen, the blond head peeked out, curiosity settled clearly into that face. Yael’s own brightened and he grinned. He almost waved his arms but managed to keep himself standing as still as he could manage. It wasn’t much, he was nearly bouncing on his toes. “Come see!”

Quentin, curiosity piqued even more, wiped his hands on his apron, having been in the middle of preparing some broth, and stepped out of the kitchen, to Yael’s studio and stepped inside once the other moved to the side. He didn’t have to wonder long about what he was supposed to look at, the painting was right there, almost life-size, almost. He stared at it for a long while, his mouth hanging slightly open at the sight.

“Yael that is so beautiful.” It was. As far as he was concerned, it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. “Want me to see if we can gather everyone in for a while after supper? I bet I can tempt most of them with the offer of hot tea, coffee or hot cocoa with some of those too delicious cookies you’ve made lately. I know we still have plenty of them.”

Quentin was rather pleased with himself, he’d managed to not eat his way through all of said cookies though it had been so very, absolutely tempting.

“Would you do that? I really want all of them to see it. I could show it to them Friday when we all get together but I don’t really want to bring it outside and to Eoghan’s place just for that.”

“I’ll call them, don’t worry. I’ll call Eoghan and he can see about everyone else. Why don’t you have a shower, you’re colourful again today. I’ll call while you shower and we can set it out in the family room once we’re both done with our current tasks and set it on the couch. It’ll be just perfect there. After that we’ll have to figure out where we’re putting it.”

“I’m almost done with the smaller one too, the one with the older type of clothes. I tried to stick with the clothes I imagine everyone wearing when they were younger and preferably from where they were born. It’s not as clashing as I thought it would be.” He laughed again, looking down to his arms. He really was covered, this time.

“I can’t wait to see it. Go on, get washed up, if I finish with the broth and the call before you’re done, I’ll head in to help you scrub yourself clean.”

The painting looked beautiful in their family room, sitting, for the time being, on the couch. There was a wide open space above it, right on that wall though it would have taken a bit more time than they could have spared right then to set it up. Later, they could hang it up and be reminded of the beauty that was their family, though only two of them blood-related, every time they stepped into that room.

Yael fidgeted, wringing his hands together as he waited and paced. Quentin had left him be for the time being, knowing that nervousness was more than likely to abound and there wasn’t much he could do about it. Yael needed the approval of their friends as far as this painting was concerned and it was out of his hands and into theirs.

Not long after they had set the painting up on its temporary resting spot, they came, all together, at once. Wearing light coats and not even the hint of a scarf. The weather had warmed significantly in the past few weeks and just two days away from the solstice, it was easy to see that spring was in the air.

“I’m grateful that you’ve all come here. When I called Eoghan, I didn’t really tell him why I wanted all of you here, why we, both of us,” he motioned to Yael who was joining them, still looking absolutely nervous, “wanted you here. I did bribe him with some of those delicious cookies Yael has made recently and I imagine it might be how he persuaded you all to come this way. So I’ll go and Yael can lead you to where you’ll be at least for the new few minutes. We’re not asking you to spend the night, but this is an important event in our lives, especially in Yael’s.”

With that said, Quentin disappeared back to the kitchen and all eyes turned to Yael. His eyes grew two sizes, the jitters of his first time ever in front of an audience robbing him of most of his thoughts. He stared blankly, his eyes unfocussed and Eoghan was the one to step forward, settle a gentle arm over Yael’s shoulders with a chuckle. “Just tell me where we’re going and we’ll go there, yes?”

Yael licked his lips to moisten them. When he managed words, they were so soft he barely heard them slip from his own mouth. “Family room, if you’d all please.”

Eoghan nodded, turning the wide-eyed demon around and he led him, and the rest of their group into the family room. Once there, his eyes fell on the painting and he released Yael who stepped to the side and went right back on to wringing his hands together. He watched as eyes widened and mouths opened slightly to gaping position. This was a good start, he didn’t see anything negative in anyone’s reaction, he felt already somewhat better, he felt less completely stressed out.

“Ah, I see you’ve all discovered why we asked you to come about.” Quentin’s voice broke through the silence as he weaved his way into the room itself, a tray of cookies in hand that he set down on the table in the middle of the room. He moved to settle at Yael’s side, slipping his arm along that slender waist.

“Yael, this is beautiful, I have no words.” Eoghan was the first to find his voice. He stepped closer, studying the details put into the painting itself. It was amazing. It was almost as though he was looking in a mirror.

The twins finally stepped closer themselves but Yael caught Cyrille’s gaze more than he did the twins’s own. He was confused, as if he didn’t understand how he’d made it into that painting himself. He looked to Yael a moment, his eyes wide, confusion absolutely clear as day before he looked back to the painting.

“I’ve been working on this painting since I’ve met Quentin, just about. On and off, I’d paint it, change it, modify it. Then, Eoghan came into our lives, I sketched him into it. Alexis was added, then the twins and Zora, though when she left I didn’t feel comfortable leaving her in the painting. Armin and finally though certainly not the least of addition, I’ve added you, Cyrille. You’re as much part of this family as everyone else. You’ve done so much for everyone in your own way, I don’t think we’d quite by the same without you. You deserve to be in this painting as much as everyone else.”

He paused, finding smiles all around as they looked at him. Courage settled into his bones then and he smiled, looking to his completed painting. “I was terrified some of you might not like it. This is the first time I’ve had so many people looking at my art and it is such a personal piece that I was terrified of what might come of it. Now I know that it was worth every second I’ve poured into it. Every shower I’ve had to take because somehow with this painting more than any others I ended up covered in paint from head to toe. It was worth everything.”

A group hug would have been symbolic then but perhaps it was asking for too much. Yael did find himself on the receiving end of several hugs by his friends, it was all he needed, they appreciated the work he had put in the painting and that was that.

“Before anyone goes anywhere, I’d like to offer that we do our shared meal this week here. There’s something special I’d like to do myself and I’d feel better if it was done here, if that’s all right with everyone.” Quentin looked around at the group, little nods coming from all parties though there was curiosity in their gazes one more. A curiosity he found in Yael’s gaze as well and that was the plan.

community

“Alexis?”

The tall demon turns slightly, looking down to the blue and black haired youth as he stands next to him. He still does his best to respond to his full name though it sounds so formal to him. He smiles however, a soft chuckle escaping him as he realizes he hadn’t noticed the teen coming up to him.

“Yes, Mira?” He can hear the rest of their little group going about not far from them, in the adjoining rooms, talking, walking, placing dishes on the table, preparing for their meal, he tunes most of it out and focuses on their group’s youngest member. It seems strange, the oldest and youngest having a discussion, though perhaps not all that strange.

“Back then, before these cities and these large buildings and this technology, back when demons really didn’t have to hide about who they were,” he pauses on that point, frowning softly as he does, “there was a time when demons didn’t have to hide, right?”

Lex knows this isn’t the primary question, that somehow Mira has deviated from what he was wishing to ask. “There was a time when we, demons, didn’t have to hide. We were accepted by society as it was.”

“Okay, back then, during that time, did people live in split communities or was everyone together, helping everyone else and working with everyone else?” His eyes are wide and curious. Lex feels the urge to run his fingers through Mira’s growing hair to muss it up gently, so he does.

“Well, some demons were comfortable enough to mix in completely with the humans, I think that part of our civilization hasn’t really changed, Mira. There will always be those who prefer to stick to their own kind and those who feel more comfortable mingling. Where I was born, so long ago, the village was pretty close to a relatively big community. Demons and humans alike worked together, ate together, bathed together. People saw no harm in who we were and they didn’t use us for our gifts. We helped them willingly where we could. There were no slaves and no masters. At least not in our village and we were one of the few settled this way, sadly.”

He shakes his head then, looking out the window as he does. He sighs and tries not to think too much on the past he has lived through. It was a very long time ago.

Mira, still standing at his side, nods, as if that was all he had wanted to hear. “Thank you, Alexis.”

“You’re welcome.” He pauses, looking back once more as the bustling sound of movement is letting up somewhat, their table is almost ready for the meal, he’s certain, “you know you can call me Lex, right?”

Mira looks out the window again, gazing out, as if trying to find the right answer before he cranes his neck to look back up to the elder demon. “I know, I just don’t feel comfortable calling you that yet. I know you but I don’t really know you. Maybe in a decade or so more.”

The thought amuses Lex in ways he hadn’t expected. It is so sweet in its own way, this kind of respect. A lot of teens in this day and age no longer have that form of respect for their elders. “Thank you for that, Mira. Come, let’s go see if they need any help for the final few things that might need brought onto the table and then we’ll eat.”

With that, Mira turns and heads into the other room, to join his brother and their friend. Lex follows him, just a few paces behind.

“Should I get a penny?”

Next to him, at the door as they watch their friends walk back down the stairs or take the elevator down, Eoghan stands, hands lost in the long sleeves of his shirt. Lex blinks at him a moment before he turns away and closes the door with a soft yawn. As it always is, the dinner tickled the tastebuds of everyone present and the movie was appreciated by everyone.

“I’m just thinking, that’s all, really.”

“Okay, I’m going to have to up that bid and make it a whole dollar, you’ve been thinking since before we all sat down for our meal so it has to be some pretty deep thinking. What did you and Mira talk about? You two were the only ones not about to help with the table, not that it was necessary, we had plenty of folks almost walking on one another’s toes.” He laughs softly, those ever blue eyes looking up to his companion, trying to catch those green ones.

“He just asked me about how things were when I was younger, with demons not feared by humans but that’s not really what gets me, I think what gets me is how much he seems to respect me. Everyone I work with, when I’m dealing with the law side of my job, respects me, it’s earned because they know what I can do and that I’ve yet to ever lose a case but otherwise, when you meet up with people nowadays, it’s like there’s no respect taught to anyone anymore.” He shakes his head, stepping away from the door and deeper into their home.

“Mira respects everyone. I suppose I should give Zora that much, she taught them how to respect others.”

“I don’t know that Zora has taught them much of anything, honestly. Not when you really think about it. She refused to teach them the language, so they could hardly talk or interact with anyone, they couldn’t learn respect that way. It’s innate, or it’s in spending time with Armin or even Cyrille-“

“Or us, Lex.” Eoghan steps into their bedroom, moving to sit on the edge of their bed as he watched his lover round the bed to his side, tugging his shirt off as he goes.

“That could be too. Thing is, he refuses to call me Lex. Says he doesn’t know me well enough, that maybe in a decade or so, he’d feel as though he might know me well enough to be able to call me Lex and not Alexis.”

“They all call you Alexis though, I’m the only one who shortens your name.”

“I wish they all would, it feels strange.” He sits on the edge of the bed on his side of it, looking out of their window.

“Or you know, you could ask them to call you by the name you were given when you were born.”

Lex blinks and turns his gaze to Eoghan, eyebrows lifted in amusement. “So you’d rather they call me Lexius instead of Alexis?”

“You still were Lexius when I met you. You changed your name to Alexis when it seemed a more common name that most people wouldn’t really ask any questions about.”

“I had to, Eoghan. When I first left law and then came back to it a couple of decades later, when I told them my name was Lexius, I had to come up with the excuse that in our family, it was a really important name. At least with Alexis, I don’t stand out so much.” He laughs, shaking his head as he stands and goes about undressing so he can slip in between the covers. He feels absolutely drained and he knows it only is because he’s had himself several last minutes commission to finish before their friends came in.

“I know, I know. Aside the point, I know, you’re more comfortable with being called Lex but you can’t force anyone to anything. If they want to call you that, they will on their own time and that’s all there really is to it. It’s sweet that Mira respects you that much though. I know they all respect us in their own way but Mira seems to be the one who shows it the most. As parents, it proves we’re doing something right.”

Lex laughs and shakes his head. “We’re not parents, Eoghan and we both know this.”

“Details! Now come to bed and cuddle. I deserve cuddling for managing to cook perfect soufflés that didn’t deflate.”

“You always manage perfect soufflés that never deflate, love, but I can cuddle all you want. I don’t think our relationship would be the same if I wasn’t so willing to cuddle you whenever you want me to.”

“Are you complaining?” Eoghan, finally nude, slips between the bed sheets, shivering at their temperature and grumbling about it for a moment. When Lex settles in next to him, he scoots instantly over to steal some of the other’s body heat.

“Not complaining one little bit, I promise.”

“Good.”

stacks

There are soft gasps all around as the little group steps into the new library, or at least, the first room of it, the building is brightly lit, thanks to proper light fixtures and the sun pouring into the wide windows. On their left, in a little alcove that Armin can’t really recall seeing there when Eoghan had brought him in to show him the place, there now seems to be an area fit to be used as a wardrobe.

The air is warm as it is bright as they pass coats over to the front of the group, Eoghan and Yael hanging up everything that gets brought up their way. “Usually, I would say we can bring all of your coats deeper in, there’s an area not far from the front desk where workers can drop everything that belongs to them so it doesn’t get lost in with the rest of everyone’s things but for today, since it’s just us and only us, I figured that we could drop our things here.”

“I don’t know that many people will feel comfortable leaving their coats up here but that is a pretty nice idea, Eoghan.”

“Thank you, Armin. I just figured, you know. People in restaurants will leave their coats in places like these when it is coat season so why not here in the library? Keep people from having to lug it around. I’ve also had rugs set up, they can be rolled up and away once the cold season is over, there’s room on the second floor for them. It’ll help dry up boots before folks make it to the library proper, so less tracking of dirt and wet stuff.”

There are little nods and murmurs from the group as they move away from the alcove and past the second set of doors. “If it helps in any way, I did have a couple of cameras set up here in this section since you can’t see into it from the library proper, there are cameras everywhere now as is, you can keep track of what’s happening everywhere.”

Yael holds one of the door open and they all file through, murmuring thank yous in passing as they do. Once everyone is inside, he steps within as well, carefully releasing the door, afraid it might smack shut but to his surprise it eases closed slowly on its own, clicking shut with a quiet sound.

Now there are wide eyes all around as those who had not yet seen the new library—every single one of them but Eoghan had seen the near finished product—saw the new place as it really was. Well the structure was reminiscent of a church, there was nothing to let anyone believe that it had ever been used as such before. There were rows as far as they could see, stacks of boxes everywhere, a small area not far from where they stood designed for comfort where people could read.

Lex groans softly at the sight of all those boxes, having expected quiet a few of them but not that many. He shakes it off, knowing this is for a good cause and that this isn’t about looking through things to check and make sure everything would be kept, it really was just about unpacking everything.

“Now, you’ll notice that there are a few boxes up here by the front desk, those have books that I honestly wasn’t sure about. I didn’t know where they might go in the library and I didn’t want to have them brought out to particular shelves without being sure that this was where they needed to be. I figured Armin would be able to look through those while we started unpacking everything else. It will take us some time and I hope that everyone knows how grateful I am that you all came in to help, it means a lot. There are little step stools every few aisles for those who might need it but when I ordered the new shelving system, I made sure to get shelves that wouldn’t keep books out of the reach of most people. No one honestly wants to have to climb up to get their books.”

Eoghan honestly had expected that it would take them more than a single day to get all the books in place but by early evening, after a light snack has been bought and shared, all the books are where they belonged. Perhaps not in perfect order but they are in their proper area and he knows that will a bit of work over the next few weeks, everything would be exactly as it should have been.

As their group gathered back around the front desk, groans of exhaustion escaping most of them, Eoghan chuckled softly. “I’d like to thank everyone again for coming out here to help with the unpacking, I’m sure we all feel the same way. Today has been absolutely exhausting but we’ve done something great for the community.”

He pauses, surveying their worn faces. He rolls his shoulders lightly to ease the settling stiffness of sore muscles. “As a thank you, I figure I can get us all some take out. We just need to figure what you guys want to eat so that we can call it in to have it prepared. We can either eat it here or head out there, head home.”

“I vote for eating here, whatever it is. That way we don’t have to go anywhere. I ache in ways I didn’t think I could ache anymore and I do this book placing and moving around for a semi-living at this point.” Agni waves his hand lightly, to make sure people know he’s the one talking. He huffs softly at having to do so. Being the shortest one in their group sucks on some days.

“Well usually I’d say no food in the library but I think we can do an exception at least for this once. Though we don’t really have the necessary surface for food.” Armin yawns, rubbing one of his shoulders lightly as he looks around the area. There are tables and chairs in the dead center of the library, shelves of books on either side but he doesn’t really care for the idea of food going anywhere near those tables.

“There’s the table in the middle of the reading corner by the door? There’s room for all of us and we can use one of the empty box and put it down on the table as protection from whatever it is we’re going to eat.”

“That might not actually bad a bad idea, Cyrille.”

“Okay, so we’re set on where we’re eating, what about the food itself?”

There is a silence for a few moments, people thinking about what they could eat though not a word is spoken before Mira seems to break through that moment of quiet. “Pizza?”

Quentin looks to Yael for a moment, a soft snicker escaping him as he remembers that discussion they had had while walking home about why people ate takeout, especially pizza when it was so easy to make home.

There is a moment more of quiet before little nods and agreements come from the rest of the group. “Okay, so pizza it is. I’ll call it in and then get it, unless you’d rather drive down there and get it, Cyrille? It’ll be paid for already and you might just get there faster in your car?”

Cyrille rolls his eyes, a soft chuckle escaping him as he shrugs. “I don’t mind driving to the pizza place to get our order, I’ll go start the car and kick the heat up so it’s toasty warm and our food stays hot while I get there and back with it.”

“Much appreciated, thank you. Now what kind of pizza are we going for?”

Silence again falls and Eoghan shakes his head with an amused sigh. He supposes it can hardly be helped, the whole thing is amusing more than anything else. He blames not a single one of them, the day has been long, after all, rather long.

an open magazine

“Did you buy the whole store or something?” Scattered over their living room table, there seems to be dozens of magazines, some open, some closed and some actually looking rather old, so old Eoghan isn’t even sure in what year they might have come out.

“Lex?” Eoghan looks around their living room, the air is still, as though it hadn’t been been disturbed in quite some time. Something that wouldn’t make sense. These magazines hadn’t been there the night before and Lex had only gotten up about half an hour before him. Unless they had some midnight visitors, things felt a little off at that point.

The front door eases open and closes with a soft click. “Lex, is that you?”

“Arms full, a little help might be nice.” He calls out softly from the door, managing a step, then two before he steps. He honestly can barely see where he’s going and knows there are obstacles that will appear in his way in a few more steps and he’d rather not deal with more bruised shins.

Eoghan, curious and relieved at once, walks away from their living room and to the door where Lex is standing with two boxes stacked in his arms. Eoghan reaches for the topmost one, pulling it to his arms with a slight grunt, not quite having expected its weight. “What’s in there?”

“Magazines. I was looking through our private library out back when I noticed these boxes sitting in a corner. I honestly couldn’t even remember leaving any of them there but I guess we must have and for a while if I didn’t notice them until now. They’re all old magazines, I guess I might have been a bit of a magazine junky when I last returned into the law world. Most of these have articles about certain attorneys or certain cases or just about anything that has to do with law. I figured it was time to do some cleaning.”

“For a second there I thought I’d fallen through into an alternate dimension. You weren’t there, these magazines were there and it felt as though they’d been left there a really long time ago.” Eoghan mutters softly as he walks back to the living room, putting the box down next to the low table and to the other, mostly empty box, that he hadn’t noticed again. “I’m going crazy, I didn’t even see that box when I stepped out.”

“A lot of these magazines are old, I suppose there’s some strife in them for how long they’ve been around me and my things so it’s possible you didn’t see them. You do have this slight habit of blocking certain things out, it’s like your brain is wired for it. I’m still here, this is still the regular universe and I’m not going anywhere.” Lex chuckles softly, setting the second box down on top of the first one Eoghan had put on the floor.

“I don’t really feel like doing this right now but I don’t want to see any more boxes. I figure this is a good exercise for tomorrow.” He laughs but shakes his head, looking through the magazines already scattered on their low table. He doesn’t know whether or not he wants to keep any of them. Even if by some surprising twist of fate some of these articles are about his own past, it doesn’t matter much, he knows.

Eoghan kneels down next to him, looking a few magazines over and piling some up on the side to be dropped into their shredder, it would do go in their composting bin. “You don’t have to come tomorrow if you don’t want. I know you’ve had a few good commissions come in and if you would rather stay here and work on them, no one is going to accuse you of not helping out.”

Lex quirks a brow but shakes his head as he piles up the magazines that were on the low table, setting them aside himself as he opens one of the new boxes and pulls out another pile to riffle through, to see if anything catches his attention. “I’m going with the group tomorrow to help with the library, it’s not that I don’t want to, it just feels strange to be digging through boxes when I was sure I was done. I never want to look at a box ever again if I can help it.”

“Unless it’s for something new we’ve bought, yes?” Eoghan’s grin seems to be contagious as Lex grins as well moments later. He shakes his head with a soft chuckle as he keeps on briefly looking at the magazines before setting them down on the growing pile on his left. Only a couple have been put to his right and his face is plastered to them, it makes it easy to know why they’re on that pile. At least, for now they’re on that pile.

“At times I tell myself I just don’t like unpacking stuff but unwrapping things is different. I love unwrapping you, tugging every last article of clothing away from your body so I can explore it again and again with my hands, map every little bit of you to memory.” Lex grins again, keeping his gaze on the magazines in front of him though he knows Eoghan is more than likely blushing at this point. They have been together for a long, long time but some things still pull these almost timid reactions to the surface.

“Stop trying to make me blush and keep on looking through these magazines. What are we looking for exactly?” Eoghan clears his throat, willing to blush to leave his face though he sighs and leans back somewhat against the armchair settled behind him. He craves these moments when he knows it is simply the two of them, only during these brief respite from the world can he let Lex get away with saying those things.

“At this point I’ve only put to the side anything that has my face on it. I’m not vain, mind you, I just figure that I know there are articles about me if my face is on these covers and once I know that, I can look through them to see if said article is worth keeping or not. I’m sure most of these magazines will end up in the shredder but looking won’t hurt.”

Eoghan nods, going back to looking through the magazines, setting to the side the rare few that do have Lex’s photo on them. There are more than he had expected but he’s not all that surprised. When out working in the world of law, Lex is world known, those who have not heard his name have no access to world information.

“There are more magazines with my face on it than I had honestly expected.” They stare at the pile left on the low table. The rest of the old and worn magazines have been put back into the boxes and these boxes dropped just outside their door to be taken down and outside to the garage where their shredder sits.

Eoghan laughs at those words, tapering off to a chuckle. “The world love you, you should be glad for that. They adoooore you!”

Lex rolls his eyes, rolling up one of the magazines and bopping Eoghan on the head with it lightly, playfully. “There’s only one person on this planet whose adoration I need and we both know who this is.”

At those very words, Eoghan’s eyes go wide, mock-hurt by those very words, he gasps, putting on a show. “There’s someone out there in the world whose adoration means more than mine? Now you’ve gone and broken my heart! You’re so heartless! Oh how am I ever going to survive this tragedy?”

He sniffles, flopping down on the ground with a heavy sigh. Lex leans over the low table to look at his lover. “You’re not much a good actor, love. Though I suppose with some practice you might convince a few folks that you are but really, that wasn’t very good.”

“You wound me with your words of evil.”

“And you love me for it anyway.”

“I must be crazy in some way, I suppose, because you’re right, I do. Now, let’s look these magazines over and see just how many we keep and how many got details wrong about your life, yes?”

“Sounds like a plan.”