They were similar in a great many ways. They were both poor speakers, both quite awkward, socially and otherwise, and, at times, both were painfully shy, and while the general rule stands that painfully shy people don’t often get along, they were most assuredly an exception.
They shared a preference for coffee, a liking for crap television, and a great love for that certain time of morning where everything is idyllic and drenched in sun, and the temperature of the room is just warm enough but not too warm, and the world outside their flat seems to simply melt away into the soft sunlight.
So they sat, side-by-side, fitting as nicely against one another as two matching mugs stacked in a cupboard, the light of that perfect morning time falling beautifully through the wide, dusty window that hung above their bed and casting a slight glare over the screen of their discount television (Martin’s purchase). Beneath the glare was an episode of Antique’s Roadshow they’d TiVo’ed (the TiVo being Henry’s purchase), and if they weren’t so content to merely bask in the moment and each other’s presence and the overall feeling of right-ness that settled about them like benevolent dust motes, they might have done something about the glare. But they were, so they didn’t.
They were both slumped ungracefully against the squashed, plush pillows and the warmed wood of the headboard. Martin had his head tucked against Henry’s left shoulder. Henry’s cheek rested atop Martin’s sweet-smelling head. Henry’s arm was draped across Martin’s slim shoulders, and he drew lazy, swirly shapes along the outside of Martin’s equally slim bicep.
“Toast?” said Martin softly, his eyes rolling up to look in the direction of Henry’s head.
“Yes, please,” said Henry, and opened his mouth. Martin kept his gaze directed upwards as he guided the buttery piece of toast up into his mouth. He waited for the feeling of it being bitten before withdrawing and taking a bite for himself. There was a slight rain of microscopic crumbs as both had bitten, but neither really seemed to mind. Martin giggled to himself at the sensation of their nearly-synchronized chewing. Henry giggled, too.
“Coffee?” asked Henry.
Martin hummed in reply and lifted his head a bit to take a sip from the cup Henry brought to his lips. It was sweet and creamy and just the way he liked it. Not surprisingly, that’s how Henry liked it, too. He brought his head up off of Martin’s as he sipped. Then they both snuggled back into their positions.
As Lars Tharp examined a particularly unattractive vase, Martin allowed his mind to wander, and he found himself replaying the previous night – in particular, the few moments after a rather wonderful shag (for lack of a better word) as they lie together, breathless and smiling, eyes closed, limbs tangled. Henry had bent his face towards Martin’s and planted a quick succession of kisses over his cheeks, his nose, his lips, his brows. And as Henry kissed the line of his jaw, Martin had said it. He hadn’t really planned to, though the thought had often crossed his mind to do so – but he didn’t mean for it to appear that particular night, at that particular time. But it had.
It wasn’t as though it was too soon, really. They’d dated for nearly a year – thought it seemed like much longer, and simultaneously, like no time at all – and had combined their money to purchase the flat. Not that they really needed to, of course. But Henry had few qualms about playing his wealth down. In fact, he preferred it that way – though he didn't mind occasionally sprinkling their humble home with a few nice things, i.e. the TiVo, and their lovely bed sheets. Martin didn't really mind, either.
But regardless of how long they’d been together or if it was the "appropriate" amount of time that normal people usually wait before dropping the “L-word” was irrelevant. To Martin, it was never the right time. Not if it was him saying it. Any time would have been fine if it’d come from Henry. Hell - to Martin, it would have been fine over the café table on their first date. But no – of course, he’d said it. He said it, and then he realized he’d said it – and he'd held his breath.
In the little bit of moonlight, the planes of Henry’s face were thrown into stark contrast. Martin had watched his brows gather together above the bridge of his perfect nose. It took an eternity for a smile to appear on his lips, and he'd leaned in, laughing, to kiss Martin, a large hand reaching up to cup his face. Martin had laughed too, and very nearly felt like crying. Maybe he had. Henry had brought him on top of his stomach and wrapped his arms tight around him and they'd kissed and kissed and everything had become very soft and blurry.
Now, things seemed... well, wonderful, actually. Martin was so terribly used to making a right mess of things, so this, like so many things about Henry - including Henry, himself - was a very pleasant surprise. Martin sucked his lips and didn't pay much attention at all to the very nice wardrobe being examined on the television. His heart began to beat at a quicker clip, but he tried very hard to ignore it. He wanted to try the words out again.
"Ahloveyou," he said quietly, in a rush so that the words mushed together.
For a quarter of a moment, Martin wondered if he'd been heard, but he had, of course. Henry stilled his fingers where they brushed against Martin's arm and held him close. He planted a long kiss on the very top of his head, and whispered, "I love you, too."
Martin felt that feeling again - the one from last night; the happy one that was so perfectly happy that it was almost a sort of sadness, and there was suddenly a little lump in his throat. He heard a click and felt the plate of the leftover bit of toast leave his hands, and Henry, both hands now free, scooped Martin into his arms and slid down so that they were nearly level beneath their posh comforters, heads resting against their dented pillows.
Henry looked into Martin's eyes, reminding Martin once again of - though the irony was terribly vivid - a dog (albeit a very cute one). He drew the tip of his index fingers along Martin's freckled cheekbone. "I really do," he continued softly, in another whisper.
Martin's heart began racing again (oh, he did so wish he could maintain a bit more control of himself, but he was useless in Henry's presence), and was equally powerless to stop an enormous, goofy grin (it felt goofy, rather) from spreading across his face. Henry returned the grin and pressed another kiss against the fronts of Martin's teeth, before he had a chance to close his lips.
Henry tasted of sweetener and cream and blackberry jam and Sunday sunshine. He hoped Henry thought he tasted just as good. It seemed as though he did.