The rain thrummed down on the roof and beat against the window panes. Outside, the gnarled, twisted beech tree was beginning to look naked, only a few red and orange leaves clinging to its branches. The painted bench underneath the tree, looking over the garden and the now-empty flowerbeds, was peeling and cracked, clearly in need of painting. The nights were creeping in earlier and earlier these days, and already a heavy dusk hung over the scene, darkened further by the steady sheets of rain.
The light shining in the windows of the little house was cheerful and warming. Inside, a small fire crackled in the hearth of a tidy, comfortable living room. The walls were lined with bookshelves, each one stacked full. Detailed aeroplane models sat on top of the bookshelves, along with framed photographs. An old Labrador was curled up on the over-stuffed sofa, snoring slightly.
A small table was in a corner of the room under the window, softly lit by a tall lamp. One side of the table was spread with books and papers covered in scribbles. A man in glasses was tapping away at a small laptop, his expression intent. His hair was grey and thinning, his kind face heavily lined like an old apple. His typing was slow, his knuckles swollen with arthritis, and he kept pausing and pushing his glasses back up his nose.
On the other side of the table sat another man. He too was grey-haired, though his was just as thick and curly as it had been in his younger years. He was very thin, with papery skin and worry lines creasing his forehead. Reading glasses sat on the end of his nose as he peered at the delicate model of a Hurricane. His hands, long-fingered and careful, fitted another piece into place.
They sat quietly together, occasionally catching one another's eyes and smiling a little. Beneath the table, their feet rested companionably against each other. The only sound was the delicate crackle of the fire, the click of typing, and the soft undercurrent of a radio playing in the corner.
“Tea?” Martin broke the quiet, finally laying his model down.
“God, yes,” Daniel replied, taking off his glasses to rub his eyes. Martin tsked at him.
“You shouldn't stare at the screen so long, you know.”
Daniel chuckled, replacing his glasses. “What, you think I should retreat to the days of the typewriter?”
Martin shook his head, smiling slightly. He eased himself to his feet, his joints cracking. Arthritis may have left him alone, but he still seemed to seize up the moment he was still for more than a few minutes. He pressed a kiss to Daniel's forehead as he passed.
Later they cleared the table and ate dinner, before sitting on the sofa to watch a film. Martin fell asleep on Daniel's shoulder, and was grumpy about being woken when the credits rolled. Daniel shut Sierra in the kitchen with a pile of blankets in her bed. They brushed their teeth side-by-side, and changed into pyjamas, their movements slow. A few minutes of reading by the light of the bedside lamp, and then the bedroom was sent into darkness as they curled together under the covers.
Nearly forty years had passed since Martin had helped Daniel move house on a wet April day, and they fit together like old leather gloves. Arms and legs tangled so they could lie as close as possible, sharing in one another's warmth. Daniel pressed a kiss to Martin's lips.
They had had sex that morning, under the covers to keep off the autumn chill, the bedroom bright with morning sun. Daniel had pressed Martin into the bed, kissing him hungrily, stiff hands roaming under his shirt, as Martin kissed back and held him close. They had tugged at one another's clothes, scattering them about the bed, and pressed close together, kissing and kissing and kissing. Now, they lay together, quiet and close.
“We should go for a walk tomorrow,” murmured Daniel. “If the weather's better.”
“Mm hm,” agreed Martin, nuzzling into the warmth of Daniel's neck. “Anything you want.”
Daniel pulled Martin's head up slightly so he could kiss him. “We could go to the Oak for a roast.”
“Mmm. That sounds lovely.”
Martin pressed a few more kisses to Daniel's lips, then snuggled back down, tucking his head in against Daniel's shoulder.
“G'night. I love you.”
Daniel tightened his arms around Martin's skinny frame as words rumbled against his neck. “Love you too.”