Hilliard stared at the ceiling of the dugout. The darkness engulfed him, settling into the furthest reaches of himself, making him think about the feelings that had been consuming him, ever since he gazed into those blue eyes.
He had been searching his mind for an explanation for these feelings, telling himself that it was just the live one felt for a friend, a best friend, the only one he had ever had. But he knew he was lying to himself. A friend wouldn't want to hold Barton all night, and protect him from all the harm that the world could throw at him. He wanted Barton as so much more than a friend, so much more that it hurt.
Hilliard was pulled out of his reverie by the entrance of the man he had been dreaming about for months. Barton stumbled into the dugout, the blank look on his face saying more than any words needed to. Chucking his bag on the floor he slumped onto his bed. His hands reached up to cover his face before running through is ruffled blond hair. He looked up and his gaze locked with Hilliard's. They held each others gaze before Barton looked away, newly formed tears in his eyes, glinting in the flickering light of the candle, threatening to spill over.
"I can't do this anymore", Barton croaked, his voice hoarse from a day spent speaking to almost no one. Hilliard rose from his bed and sat himself next to Barton.
"Do this! The death, the destruction, Tha pain felt by everyone here. No one's proud of this, no one wants this! How can I not feel what they feel? They're the same as us. We didn't start this, why should we be the ones who finish it!?
At this Barton turned to look at Hilliard, tears marking a clear path down his cheeks, making their way through the earth covering his face. Hilliard reached up a shaking hand to wipe them away, stroking his thumb across Barton's cheek and resting his hand there. He went through an internal struggle, he wanted to protect him so badly, if he could save him from this he would give anything. But he couldn't show Barton how he felt. He valued their friendship too much to throw it away. Though his better judgement left him as another tear fell onto his hand and Barton shook from months of pent up emotions.
"I can't see you like this. I can't see you in pain. I wanted so badly to save you from this, protect you from the horrors that I knew were inevitable. I didn't want you ever to have to feel like this." Barton's eyes had returned to Hilliard's and were full of questions as he listened to him speak. He told himself that Hilliard was only looking out for him as a friend, as a fellow soldier. He didn't even dare to hope for more as Hilliard continued.
"You are so important to me, and I know I haven't shown... I haven't told you how much I care but..." Hilliard choked on his words, unable to voice his feelings. A few seconds of silence passed between the two, Hilliard's eyes flickered down to Barton's lips uncontrollably, as though they were drawing him in. He looked Barton in the eye one more time before he couldn't control himself any longer. He leant in and captured Barton's lips with his own, tasting the saltiness of the tears Barton had shed. Barton didn't take long to overcome the shock, his eyes fluttered shut and he leant in, kissing Hilliard back, trying to convey all the feelings he had never been able to voice.
It was not like any kiss Barton had ever seen in those films at the pictures, all want and passion, it was sweeter, full of love and tenderness. His hands came up to rest in Hilliard's hair, framing his face, before he pulled away. Both were speechless, the dreams and desires of each, previously locked away, were now released, and a feeling of relief spread over the pair.
"Did you really mean that?" Barton questioned, disbelief and hope both evident in his voice.
"Of course I meant it," Hilliard replied, running his hand through Barton's hair, interlocking his other hand with Barton's. He averted his gaze before he said "I've fallen in love with you."
"Good. Cause I've fallen in love with you too." A smile spread across each man's face as Barton laughed and pulled Hilliard in once more, kissing him with all the newfound joy at discovering, after months of wishing, praying for it to be true. That the person sitting in front of him, his best friend, had fallen in love with him too.