Alva gave the rumpled bed some thought. He couldn’t really see himself answering any questions as to his sleeping arrangements with the answer that he expected to spend his nights spooning up tightly beside Paul, but nor did he want to spend his nights away from Paul, or be caught trying to sneak his way in. That little camp bed in the next room was a horror, but it would do, it would keep him close to Paul, and hopefully no one would thing to too odd that Paul should want to keep his friend close by.
Friend. Former colleague. Ex lover. No words could be found to fit what they had, nor could the truth, if it was known, ever be uttered. A stilted office fling that had grown into what? Some terrible, parasitic co-dependency, or something better than that? Could it ever be better, with Paul being what he was, and Alva being who he was? Probably not. This was the best they could hope for, but it was a miracle that they had even this.
Paul inched back on the tiny bed, and Alva paused.
“Am I hurting you?”
“No.” Paul shook his head. “Feels good. Just been a while.”
He was tight, very tight, and Keel knew he had to be careful. He just felt vaguely ridiculous, perching on the very edge of the tiny little metal bed, his greased fingers up paul’s arse. He glared at the plain wooden crucifix that hung on the wall of Paul’s bed. Well, that, at least, hadn’t changed. The precious few times he’d made love to Paul in Paul’s own bed, that damned cross had mocked him, the way it was mocking him now. Well, Paul might have given himself to God, but right now he was giving himself to Keel.
Paul was arching up now, eyes closed, rolling his hips. Paul was ready and Keel couldn’t wait any longer. It had been so long. He’d given up on being with Paul, but he’d never stopped loving him, not for one moment. And now Paul was here, moaning softly in this bed, waiting for him.
Just kiss him, you fool, Alva scolded himself. So he did, rolling his tongue with Paul’s, fucking him with just his fingers, making Paul twist this way and that, until he came, quickly and groaning with frustration. Not for long. They had all night and Alva moved properly onto the bed.
The pre-dawn light had turned the world lilac and rose as they sat on the wooden steps, nursing hot cups of tea. Paul sat one step below Alva, leaning back into him, comfortable and warm. Sore, too, but a good kind of sore, the kind of sore that spoke of an entire night getting reacquainted.
Paul did take his vows seriously, except where Alva was concerned. Because he felt Alva had prior claim on him, that he owed Alva something, because Alva always made him think outside the box and simply because he loved Alva.
Sitting here, warm in Alva’s arms, he knew for certain now that he loved him. A warm, golden love that surely nobody could find anything wrong with. A love that warmed his skin, like the first rays of the sun.
“It’s good to see you looking so well,” Alva spoke at last. “You seem…content. I’m so glad. You were in such a mess when you left. I thought I’d never see you again.”
“Why didn’t you try and find me?”
“It was better that way.”
“It’s better now, with you here.” He tilted up so he could see Alva.
Keel was thinner now, older, his face lined a little more. The shadow on his chin was now peppered with grey, and a few strands of grey sprouted from his temples, giving him a distinguished air. The haggardness the illness had caused was gone, but he still looked worn.
“Was it serious?”
“Not long. You never asked before.”
“It didn’t matter. I was going to save you, no matter what.”
“That’s always been your goal – to save me. And you did.”
“Why did you come here, Alva/ Was it desperation, or did you want to see me?’
“Both. At first I didn’t want to know where you’d gone – I didn’t trust myself with the information. I needed you so badly, but you needed to be free even more. I also knew I was being watched, so I refrained from any effort to find you.”
“It must have been hard.”
“You’ve no idea. Then I started to hear stories.”
“And you knew it was me?”
“I thought it might be.”
“And you came all this way, on a hunch?”
“I had faith.”
“Then it really was a miracle,” Paul grinned.
Alva nudged him slightly in a mild rebuke.
Paul looked up at him. “I missed you.”
“You’ve no idea,” Alva answered with feeling. “But seeing you now, I know I made the right choice.”
He wrapped his arms around Paul, and Paul leant back against him. It just felt so right between them.
“Would it have been like this, if I’d stayed?” Paul had to ask, warm and comfortable as he was in Alva’s arms.
“No,” Alva answered, softly but firmly.
Paul knew it was true, but here, in Alva’s arms, he couldn’t imagine anything else.
“I don’t know why we just can’t be happy.”
“Because sometimes the universe just isn’t fair. To see you whole again, it’s enough.
“I wish it could stay like this forever.”
“I know, but this is more than I ever dared hoped for. More than I should have. I’m sorry, Paul.”
“For dragging you back in. If I could find you, others can.
“The darkness, it’s growing stronger, and it wants you.”
“I don’t think the church will protect you. They just want to control you, and if they can’t, they will destroy you.”
Paul turned his gaze away from Alva to the crimson red dawn that spread out like a stain across the sky.
“There’s a storm coming,” he announced quietly.