James hadn’t thought about where he was going, just that he’d wanted away. He’d end up in a park, one that once upon a time had been his favourite park. He continued until he reached a tree he used to climb, eyeing it and wondering if he could still manage it. He reached up, grabbing the lowest branch, before hoisting himself up. It took a couple of attempts, using the trunk of the tree to climb his way up, before he was actually sitting on the branch. He sighed, deciding he wouldn’t attempt to get any higher and looked around the park. No one else was around which was fine. James had wanted the solitude. He shifted so he could lean against the tree and closed his eyes, enjoying the silence that was around him. The chill of the air felt cool against his skin after his climb, but he welcomed it. It was nice to feel something, anything. He balled his hands into fists and stuffed them into his pockets.
After several minutes, he pulled out his left hand and flexed his fingers, letting the cool air hit his now warm hand. It chilled the simple silver band on his ring finger, causing it to sting his skin slightly. He opened his eyes and looked at it, its shiny silver colour a contrast to his now reddening fingers. Bringing his other hand out into the cold, he slide the ring off his finger and held it, looking at it trying to remember what it meant, what it was supposed to mean. He slid it back onto his finger, blinking back the tears that were threatening to fall. He wasn’t ready to take it off yet. He had no reason to take it off yet. Sure, he hadn’t seen or spoken to Michael in three days. Not since Michael had walked out of their flat. James knew that Michael was probably staying at his sister’s house. Didn’t mean he was going to be the one to end whatever was going on. Michael was the one to walk out.
He closed his eyes again, resting his head against the trunk of the tree. The cold stung his wet eyes, the unshed tears clinging to his lashes. He rubbed at his eyes, willing away the tears.
“James?” the familiar Irish brogue called from nearby.
James kept his eyes closed, wishing-hoping-praying that Michael would just leave him alone.
“James? What’re you doing up there?” Michael asked and James knew without looking that Michael was directly under him.
“Thinking,” James replied, hoping his voice didn’t sound as distressed as he thought it did.
“About?” Michael asked.
“What I’m going to do with my life after this divorce.”
His tone was much harsher than he’d intended and he quickly opened his eyes to look at Michael.
“You want a divorce?” Michael asked, looking up at him.
“No. I don’t want a divorce. But you… you walked out on me,” James replied.
“I didn’t mean it like that,” Michael replied.
“Could have fooled me. It’s been three days, Michael.”
Michael looked away from him. James sighed.
“What do you want?” he asked.
“I wanted to see you. I went to your birthday party and you weren’t there. Your sister’s worried. A lot of people are,” Michael replied.
“Of course I am. James, will you come down here please?”
Michael was looking at him again. James nodded and ungracefully jumped out of the tree. He landed even more ungracefully. Michael was next to him, helping him up.
“I’m fine,” James said, standing and looking up at Michael.
“Are we?” Michael asked.
“You tell me,” James replied.
Michael looked at him, pulling him closer.
“You’re my husband and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Not unless you want it to,” he said.
“I don’t. Not ever,” James replied.
Michael smiled, pulling James into his arms. They held each other for several minutes in silence.
“I know we’ve been fighting about a lot of stupid things, but don’t ever do that again,” James said.
“I won’t. I’m sorry. We have been fighting a lot. Thought maybe we both needed some space,” Michael replied.
“Maybe we did. Just warn me that’s what you’re doing next time. Okay?”
James smiled at him and kissed him.
“We should get back to your party,” Michael smiled.
“Yeah, probably should,” James replied.
“At least for a bit. Let your sister know you’re okay.”
Holding hands, they began walking back.
“So, what’d you get me?” James asked.
“That’s a surprise,” Michael replied.
“You had better have gotten me something. I won’t accept sex as a birthday gift if it’s the only thing,” James teased.
“I did actually get you something. But even if I hadn’t, I don’t believe you for a second,” Michael grinned.
James laughed, as Michael pulled him closer, wrapping his arm around the shorter man’s waist. James leaned into him, enjoying the warmth that seemed to radiate off of Michael. Michael smiled, kissing the top of James’ head. James smiled up at him.