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Home to the rain

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The rain is steady when he wakes, the tone and volume of it alerting even his sleepy mind to the fact that a window is open wider than he had left it. He's immediately aware, on guard, until he slides his hand sideways and finds more space than expected. Bodyheat still lingers to the cotton of the sheets, somehow so different to the weight of warmth that the air is pressing against him.

Hathaway – Jim – James – is leaning out the bedroom window, corona of smoke and the haze of the entry light, from downstairs, colouring his profile in a rain-muted kind of way. He’s beautiful, Robbie thinks, the lines of him, even with his godawful slouch. He has a knee against his bare chest and a cigarette loose between two fingers.

“Couldn’t sleep?” says Robbie, to gauge the mood, more than anything else. Also because he can't help himself, and because it’s probably James’s fault that he’s awake right now.

James shifts and blinks at him, slow blinks, face turning to the shadow of the room, the uneven shadow of the pulled-back curtains. He blinks, and he smiles, and the easy set of his mouth allows Robbie to rest back against the mattress a little; allows him to blunt down the edge that had already risen beneath his lungs. He’s so bad at this, sometimes, is Robbie, and he knows it, God knows but he knows it, and he doubts, and he questions, and he wonders, and it all—

James smiles, tips his face back towards the hazy, heated glow of the world outside, and inhales. It’s lazy, almost indolent, as if he were sprawled against the blue of the sofa and playing that guitar of his. Those fingers, playing that guitar of his, cousin-work to how they play Robbie.

Robbie does not flush at the thought, but only because he’s an old-grown man and not an innocent; only because he knows, full well, the teasing look it would earn him.

He’s earnt one regardless, so something on his face has betrayed him.

He could protest that it’s the heat, that it’s the push of the air against him, this boiler air, this unreasonable air, too hot to make sense of anything else, let alone the lovely creature who shares his space. He could, but he looks James over instead, allows the truth, and relishes the equally honest blush it wins him.

Two can win at all their games, and two always makes the winning better.

“Just my brain on caffeine, sir,” James says; easy, skin settling pale again; relaxed, like his fingers, like the smoke in the rain behind him. “Sorry if I woke you.”

Sir.

It really has no place here, but Robbie can’t seem to eradicate it. Hasn’t really tried, probably. Not truly. James can see through him too much these days, bits of him, at least, and it’s more like a whisper between them, any way, isn't it. More like Robbie calling him Jim when nobody else does, and it’s not as though the intonations of how James says it could ever be something as dull as a title alone. Besides, James can say Robbie, is capable, can curve it to his mouth, to his tongue, to his kisses, but it always feels like an extra indulgence. Funny, that it’s that way around. Typical, too.

“You coming back to bed, then?” Because Robbie’s clock says it’s the dog side of awful o’clock, and because there’s work in the morning, and because he likes the weight of James to the left of him, even when the air is taunting and muggy.

“Soon,” says James, and Robbie is content. Lets his eyes close, and snoozes; lets them open, and drifts. Knows that James is watching him, is watching the rain, is watching a world inside of his head that probably not even James has a map to. And how can this ever be right, Robbie wonders, except that it is; and how can this ever be just, Robbie will never know, as he listens to James breathing, as he listens to the rain fall down, as he listens to the flick of the cigarette to where it will hiss in the wet of the shrubbery below, as he listens to the tug of the curtains, the shush of bare feet, the way that James says his name to see if he’s still awake.

Robbie turns to him. Tastes the smoke. Tastes the rain. Lets James settle an arm across him even though it’s too hot, because James-heat isn’t the same as the air-heat that threatens to drown him. James-heat is just a shade less, is touched by the wet and the night outside; is calm and damp and grounding.

“Sleep,” Robbie insists, and can’t know whether James does; can’t know anything but the play of fingertips against his shoulder and the soft brush of cooling dreams.