Someone’s shaking him, and when he opens his eyes he sees a blurry-edged Esca very close to his face.
“Wake up, you,” Esca whispers, smiling.
“Esca?” Marcus wasn’t expecting him back for days yet.
“What’s this, then?” Esca’s looking down at his chest, so Marcus follows his gaze to find himself clutching his favorite pillow to his chest. The one that he sewed together clumsily from one of his father’s traveling cloaks and stuffed with goose down and has kept nearby enough that he could pull it out when he had trouble sleeping. In the army it had mostly stayed hidden in the bottom of his pack, cushioning the odd delicate item, but he’s been using it more often when Esca leaves for several days to sell their surplus crops in town.
It’s, well, it’s embarrassing. The pillow is dingy and there are feathers sticking out of it, but clutching it is better than clutching nothing in an empty bed. So he says, “It’s nothing. Hello,” smiling and dropping the pillow over the side of the bed, opening his arms for Esca.
Esca accepts the invitation, pushing in close and pressing his face into Marcus’ neck. “Hello,” he mumbles. “Miss me?”
Marcus rubs his nose in Esca’s hair, breathing him in and relishing in the solid warmth of him. “Mmm,” he hums in assent.
“Better than that pillow? You seemed attached.” Marcus can feel his smile.
“Much better,” Marcus says, closing his eyes and holding Esca closer.