Henry swiped his finger over the screen of his phone checking for messages. It was pointless, of course – he hadn’t moved away from the phone all day and the volume was set to the maximum. He knew he had no new texts nor e-mails and no missed calls. He’d just been hoping…
Oh well, it didn’t really matter. Martin was probably somewhere over the Atlantic now, and he’d been incredibly busy for days. Henry wasn’t a child and it wasn’t the first time his birthday had gone unnoticed. He was sure Martin would have remembered if he’d just had a few moments of quiet, but his schedule had been really packed lately. It wasn’t his fault. Henry wasn’t going to sulk because that would be extremely childish.
It wasn’t like today was different from any other day, Henry mused. That thought didn’t really make things much better, because at the heart of the reason why he was feeling low was the fact that he missed Martin, and he missed Martin every day that he wasn’t with him, regardless of birthdays. They hadn’t seen each other for far too long, and really all he wanted was for Marin to come here and smile at him. Or just call him. Or text. Except Martin couldn’t do that because he was piloting an aeroplane, and Henry had to wait for who knows how long.
He made himself a cup of tea and settled on the sofa. He wasn’t going to mope. He was going to watch some telly and then make himself some dinner like any other day. There was no need to feel depressed because of such a minor thing. It didn’t matter.
He was restlessly flipping through the channels when the bell rang. For a moment Henry wondered if he had forgotten about an appointment with Dr Mortimer, but he’d seen her just the day before. An uneasy feeling settled over him. He hardly ever had any visitors, and never unannounced ones. This was bound to be some bad news. Maybe he could just ignore it? He wasn’t feeling like talking to anyone anyway. He didn’t want to have to deal with anything.
He got up when the bell rang for the second time. Maybe it was just a neighbour wanting to borrow something. He could open the door like a normal person, for God’s sake. He opened it, and found himself face to face with… Martin.
“Martin!” he said, stunned.
Martin grinned at him in a way that wasn’t entirely natural. “Surprise!” he said, his voice a bit too loud and a bit too high-pitched.
“What are… I thought you were in America!”
“Yeah, um, we came back earlier, so I thought I’d surprise you,” Martin said, scratching the nape of his neck. “Since it’s your birthday and everything. But maybe you already have other plans, that’s fine, of course, I can just…”
“Martin,” Henry stopped him. “What kind of plans could I possibly have that would be better than you, silly?” he asked, not mentioning that his plans consisted largely of wallowing in self-pity.
Martin smiled, genuinely this time if a bit sheepishly.
“You’re very silly too,” Martin said, dropping his flight bag and stepping closer to Henry. “You obviously thought I’d forgotten. As if I could.”
“We’re even, then,” Henry said before pulling Martin close and kissing him. God, how he’d missed him.
“Happy birthday, darling,” Martin whispered when they broke apart. “I missed you.”
“Missed you too,” Henry said, placing further kisses on Martin’s nose and forehead. “Come inside, before Mrs Sawyer finds her binoculars.”
Martin giggled, glancing towards the house across the road where the nosy neighbour was no doubt peeking out through a crack in the curtains. They got inside and kissed some more, and how could Henry’s mood change so dramatically in such a short time? This was shaping up to be his best birthday ever.
“I’m afraid I don’t have any nice presents for you,” Martin said when they finally made it to the kitchen. “I couldn’t decide what to get you, and I didn’t have enough time, I’m really sorry…”
“That’s okay,” Henry said. The only thing he’d wanted was for Martin to be here, and he got that. “I already have everything. Ever since I met you.”
Martin buried his face between Henry’s neck and shoulders to hide his blush, and he mumbled something that Henry couldn’t quite make out, be he was pretty sure that he knew what it meant. He held Martin tighter.
“I did get you something, though,” Martin said when he’d recovered enough to lift his head. He extracted himself from Henry’s embrace and went to rummage through his bag. Henry didn’t particularly like not having Martin in his arms anymore, but he supposed there would be enough opportunities tonight to rectify that.
“Douglas said it’s an excellent wine,” Martin said, producing a bottle of red from his bag. “I think he was serious, but I’m not entirely sure.”
Henry took the bottle from him and examined the label. “Well, the only way to find out is to open it. Shall I?”
“Wait, there’s something else. It’s more from Arthur than from me, really. He was adamant I get it for you.”
“Toblerones?” Henry guessed with a grin.
Martin gave him a half amused, half apologetic smile as he handed him a pale yellow triangular box of chocolates.
“Arthur’s right, you can never go wrong with Toblerones. Tell him I said thank you. And thank you, darling.”
“I, um,” Martin said staring inside his bag, and Henry could see the blush creeping up his face again. “I have another thing.” He glanced at Henry and then returned his gaze to his bag. Henry forced himself not to try to look inside.
“You said you didn’t have any presents, and now it turns out you have three!”
“I said I didn’t have any nice presents,” Martin corrected him. “And the third one is, um… it’s sort of really weird.”
Henry was beginning to be very curious.
“I promise you I like weird things. What is it?”
Martin looked at him with an assessing gaze, as if trying to determine the likelihood of Henry passing out at the sight of the mysterious gift.
“Okay,” he said finally. “You… wait here. I’ll just be a moment. Don’t open the wine.”
Before Henry could say anything, Martin took his bag and disappeared into the bathroom.
Henry stared after him for a moment, confused. Today was certainly full of surprises. What could the present be that Martin couldn’t take it out of the bag in front of Henry? Did need to be assembled, perhaps? He shook his head, abandoning all attempts to figure it out, and decided to at least put all the dirty dishes he’d left lying around in the dishwasher. Martin liked things tidy.
Minutes ticked by and Henry was getting a little restless, until Martin finally emerged from the bathroom. He was wearing a slightly nervous expression and… his captain’s uniform.
Henry raised his eyebrows, not really able to do much else. He’d always had a bit of a thing for men in uniform, and he had a much bigger thing for Martin. And it wasn’t like he got to see Martin in his uniform all that often. He was allowed to be left speechless, especially when the sight was so unexpected.
“So what are you…” Martin said in a strange tone of voice, but stopped suddenly. “I, uh. I prepared a speech to seduce you with, but now it’s… sort of slipped my mind.”
Henry huffed out a laugh. “You really don’t need to say anything to consider me fully seduced… Captain.”
Martin smiled at that and seemed to relax a little, which made him immediately look even better
“You said you liked the uniform,” Martin said, and made a few slow steps towards Henry.
“Not so much the uniform as you in it,” Henry specified, and moved closer to run his hands down the lapels of Martin’s jacket. “Is this my present, then?”
“Yes,” Martin breathed. “I remember you said there were… certain things you wanted to try.”
“And you said it would be incredibly unprofessional,” Henry reminded him.
“Yes, well. I’ve changed my mind,” Martin whispered, leaning into Henry’s touch. “Special circumstances, you know. So… would you like to unwrap your present?”
“I don’t know, I really like the wrapping,” Henry said, pushing his hands under the jacket and kissing Martin’s neck. “I think I’ll take it off only very, very slowly. And keep the hat on.”