Chapter 1: (Lover) Be Strong
The field was sweltering under the summer sun and Kevin felt beads of sweat roll down his neck, making his shirt stick to his overheated skin. The feeling usually had Kevin fidgeting and pulling at his clothes, but he hardly noticed it - not when Mike was lost somewhere in the sea of camo down on the field. Kevin didn't want to miss anything.
A poke to his side cut Kevin's attention, and he almost fell out of the bleachers when he turned to find Bill's smiling mug. The smile splitting Bill's face never bode well for Kevin or what was left of Kevin's dignity, so Kevin was a bit hesitant to hear whatever Bill had to say. A polite cough from the poor soul sitting behind Bill made Kevin begrudgingly scoot over to let Bill sit down.
"What are you doing here?" Kevin hissed when Bill sat down. Which, if Kevin was being honest, didn't really help the affected person see any better.
Bill's smile grew wider, if that were even possible, and presented Kevin a bouquet of roses with a flourish. "For your dear Carden, young fluffy one." Kevin gave the roses a dubious look - this was Bill after all - before taking the bouquet to shut Bill up. It was a futile effort, though, because nothing made Bill shut up. "A little birdy informed me that other, less delightful couples were exchanging flowers and I couldn't let you and Michael miss out. No need to thank me."
Bill finally gave Kevin's head a pat and straightened up to look down towards the field. It looked like the speech was finally coming to an end, the unit's colors were being encased in an ornate display case. Kevin wasn't used to all this pomp and circumstance, but he wasn't exactly alone. Most of the other families were just as lost as Kevin was, what with Mike's unit being a reserve unit.
There was a final call to attention from the podium under one of the end zones and Kevin saw the assembled soldiers rise to their feet and salute, as someone sang the national anthem. It was like the floodgates were thrown open after the last note faded. Families clamoring down to the grass to seek out their loved one. Even Bill disappeared into the chaos.
Kevin waited until the rush died down, before he got down off the bleachers and instead headed for an old equipment shed away from the crowd. There was a second when Kevin thought Mike wasn't there, before a hand shot out from inside the shed and pulled Kevin inside, making him drop the stupid bouquet. Kevin barely had time to make a noise in surprise before Mike silenced Kevin with his mouth.
Kevin closed his eyes and melted under Mike's kiss. Mikes tongue slid over his lip, asking for entrance, and Kevin opened his mouth to let out a shuddered moan. Mike didn't waste any time and deepened the kiss, claiming Kevin's mouth. Kevin's world went hazy with his growing desire as Mike explored every inch of Kevin's mouth, as if he was committing it to memory. They broke for air when their lungs started complaining, but Mike didn't move his head away and instead leaned in to lightly nip at Kevin's lower lip.
Mike seemed different in his uniform when Kevin got a good look at him, after they finally broke apart. It wasn't even how Mike looked. Sure Mike's hair was shorter than Kevin had ever seen and the uniform, with First Lieutenant bars and embroidered CARDEN, made Kevin's heart beat a bit faster, but it was something about how Mike carried himself.
Mike looked down at him with a searching look. "You ok, kid?"
Kevin tightened his arms around Mike's neck and tucked his head under Mike's chin. Kevin already missed the stubble that used to always be there."You have to promise to come back, Mike."
Mike's eyes softened a bit and he pulled Kevin even closer, until they could feel each other's heartbeats. "Usually bad luck to promise that, but yeah, I promise, Kevin. I'll come back safe and sound."
Chapter 2: Like a Row of Captured Ghosts
This is my second entry for the '12 Skippy Valentine’s Day Challenge over at sodamnskippy. My prompts for this one were: 76: time: old and 51: greeting. The title comes from "Welcome Home, Son" by Radical Face.
Unbeta-ed, so all mistakes are mine.
Summary: Mike finally comes home to a waiting Kevin.
The sun was just rising from the horizon when Kevin shuffled into the kitchen, his day just starting. Kevin mindlessly flipped on the coffeemaker, and plopped down on a chair and slumped over on the kitchen table. Kevin idly drummed on the wooden surface of the table with his free hand as he waited for the coffee. His hand stilled when the first rays of sunlight bathed the backyard in a warm glow.
The grass was on the verge of being overrun by weeds, and that would have usually driven Kevin up the wall, but he couldn't find the will to care. He missed Mike, and Kevin was just counting down the days until Mike was coming home after almost a year overseas. Hearing Mike's voice and seeing his face on the grainy webcam usually dulled the loss, but Kevin still missed being able to touch Mike.
The sound of the doorbell pulled Kevin out of his stupor and he got to his feet. Kevin took a second to plaster on a forced smile, ten months of this and the smile still looked mostly like the grimace it really was, and checked the window - it was Bill, with coffee from Jon's free trade coffee shop. He debated letting him in, but threw open the door to let Bill in, for the coffee if nothing else.
"How are you this glorious morning, Jonas?" Bill kept the cup out of reach when Kevin made grabby hands at the coffee. "Ah, ah. I'm under strict orders to get you appropriately dressed and on the road before you can have this."
Grinned wide at the incredulous look leveled his way, Bill sidestepped around Kevin and let himself into the house. Kevin shut the door when the chilly October air drew goosebumps on his arms and eyed the coffee, but Bill stood firm, manhandling Kevin up the stairs. "Go on, get dressed. We haven't got all day."
Bill was bull-headed and insistent when he got an idea to do something in his head, and Kevin knew it was better to just go with it when Bill was like this. Bill yelled, "We're going to the pier so dress warm," through the bedroom door before Kevin heard him head back down the stairs.
Bill was coming out of the kitchen when Kevin came downstairs, clad in a pair of faded jeans and one of Mike's old hoodies. Kevin gratefully accepted the coffee, Jon's special autumn brew, but barely had time to take a sip before Bill was pushing him out the door. Apparently there was a rush, because Bill hurriedly waved off Kevin's desperate offer to drive.
The coffee sloshed up and burned Kevin's mouth when he stupidly tried to take a sip when Bill was pulling out of the driveway. The spice of the coffee warmed him right up, and Kevin was halfway through the cup when he saw Chicago rise up to meet them. It was then that Kevin knew where they were going.
It was blustery and the surface of the lake was choppy when they arrived, and it reminded Kevin of the first time he'd set foot on the beach, what felt like forever ago. Homesick a week into his freshman year at UIC, he'd grabbed Starbucks and set out to play tourist to distract himself. His feet had carried him to the nearest public beach from his dorm, the same beach he was standing in, now.
This beach was where he'd met Mike.
Kevin dully registered Bill telling him that Adam and the Butcher were coming too, his feet instinctively taking him close to the water, just as it had then. But this time, there wasn't a hunched form walking along the shoreline with a trail of smoke rising up into the overcast sky. There wasn't an unleashed dog barrelling down the beach, ready to push Kevin right into Mike's strong arms.
Kevin blinked and scrubbed his eyes with the sleeves of the hoodie when they started to itch with moisture. Standing there, the two months until Mike's homecoming seemed like an eternity.
There was a tap on his shoulder, but Kevin didn't look up. It was probably Bill, anyway. "Go away Bill." The tapping got more insistent and Kevin whirled around when he heard a familiar voice rumble out, "It's not Bill, kid."
The corners of Mike's eyes crinkled at Kevin's wide eyes. He looked older than the last time Kevin had seen him, Mike's dark hair was shaggy and there were light age lines on his face. Even his uniform, which had been brand new those months ago, looked worn. But all Kevin really cared about was that Mike was there.
"Hey, kid. You miss - whoa!" Mike barely caught Kevin when he just about threw himself at Mike, and it took everything he had to keep them from tumbling to the sand in a jumble of arms and legs. Kevin was crying and shaking as he desperately met Mike's lips. The kiss was nothing deeper than a brush of their lips, but as far as Mike was concerned, it was a long time coming.
Kevin didn't even care when Bill wolf whistled from somewhere near them, he focused on memorizing the feeling of Mike's arms and mouth. They finally broke the kiss when Bill threw a fistful of sand at them. Kevin didn't have to look to know Mike was flipping Bill off, and that, if anything else, really drove home to Kevin that Mike was home.
"Welcome home, Mike."