When he’s tired enough, John’s eyes start to leak. They start slowly. One drop at a time. Eventually leaking with greater effort. With more strain. Tears sliding down his cheeks without stopping. The first night Lafayette took John home, showing him around (this is the living room, kitchen, bathroom, closet), John’s bleeding and bruised. One arm wrapped around his stomach. He’s skittish, uncomfortable. Lafayette doesn’t take note. He just settles John on his couch, and goes to get some tea. Listens as John turns on the television. Lafayette returns to find John curled up on his side, eyes staring blankly at the screen, tears falling down his cheeks.
Lafayette trails his eyes towards the TV, watching as a big cat hunts its prey on the savannah. “You seem very invested in the life of that….deer?” he tries, not quite finding the word.
“Gazelle,” John corrects absently. He sits up a little, reaching for the mug Lafayette’s passing to him. Ignorant to the tears still falling from his eyes. With one hand, he traces an imaginary antler at the top of his head. “Gazelles have horns. Deer have antlers. And deers are much bigger. Don’t have the same hoof formation either. Gazelles are a type of small antelope.” He keeps going. Explains the dietary difference. The territory difference. Migration patterns. He knows a lot about gazelles. And deer.
The sentences don’t flow. John’s not a natural orator. He spits out facts. Repeats similar facts with different words. Joins them together even if they could be better organized or explained. He talks sotto voce. Dazed. Confused. Lafayette slides between him and the couch arm. Settles his own tea onto the coffee table.
John needed to be nudged out of the way. Shifted to give Lafayette room. He goes without complaint though. Following direction easily. Pliantly. Hot water splashes over the side of his mug. Out onto his hand. He stares at his fingers. Watches as the skin turns red. Doesn’t even bother to flinch. Or curse. Just settles the mug onto the table. Wipes his knuckles against his jeans.
The cat captures its gazelle. Pulls it to the ground with sharp claws. Teeth at its throat. Unable to resist, Lafayette trails a hand to John’s hip. Tugs John hard so his back is pressed against Lafayette’s chest. He bites John’s neck. Sinking teeth into flesh. Bruising delicate skin. John gasps above him. His head tips to the side. Inviting him to do more.
His breathing’s gone slow. Steady. And his body relaxes in Lafayette’s hold. When Lafayette pulls his teeth back, he hums thoughtfully. John’s asleep. Far too trusting. Lafayette raises his thumb to wipe at the tears. And continues watching John’s show.
A routine is formed. Or something approaching one. John still hesitates. Still questions how far he can go. How much he can push. Lafayette lets him take his time. Waits him out. Knows how hard it is to expect someone to be at your level. The fire under his skin burns hot and bright whenever John is near. He can taste John’s need for violence in the air. Smell it whenever John approaches.
And the fights are impressive, okay, but Lafayette adores the way John is before. After. His body tense and vibrating. Demanding satisfaction. Then. His body lax. Loose. Limp. Exhausted and weepy. The tears are never mentioned. Lafayette rubs them away with his thumb. Bites at John’s ears. His throat. Claiming John as his. And John never fights him like this. Drained and completely spent. His energy vanishing as he rides the high of their fight.
Sometimes, if he’s got enough strength to move, he’ll curl on his side in Lafayette’s arms. Trace bruises with his fingers and press. Smiling to himself when Lafayette provides him with groans of elation. “Don’t start what you don’t intend to finish,” Lafayette warns. And when John pushes once more, Lafayette twists him around. Presses his dick to John’s ass. “Is this what you want?”
“Yes,” John whispers into the couch arm, the floor, the bed. Wherever they’ve ended up. Lafayette always waits. Presses into him hard. Jerks back on whatever limb or fistful of hair he’s holding onto. Relishing in the noise John makes. The gasp that exhales through parted teeth. “Yes, please?”
“I live to please,” Lafayette tells him sweetly. And takes what he’s claimed.
They go shopping as a group, and Alex asks if they’re dating. His lips tugging down in a frown. Like he’s not sure what to make of it. Like he disapproves somehow. He side-eyes Lafayette as John wanders toward a box of bisquick. It’s judgemental, Lafayette thinks. And not Alex’s place to judge. “Oui,” he replies. Smiling.
Alex hesitates. John’s taking too long with the bisquick to be really looking for the right box. He’s either heard Alex’s question and is avoiding the discussion, or he’s giving them time to talk. Either way, Lafayette can see the flush crossing John’s cheeks from here. Olive skin darkening. Shoulders hitching up and head angling down. “John’s my best friend,” Alex informs Lafayette. Like he did that first day they met. “Don’t hurt him.”
It’s a joke, Lafayette’s sure. “Mon amie,” he drawls. John’s hands have made a selection. Pulling the box off the shelf and slowly shuffling back towards them. “If he asks—”
“—That’s not what I mean.” John freezes at the cart. Box still clutched to his chest. The flush is gone. Replaced by a look of wary concern. His nails dig into the edges. Bites his bottom lip. He drops the bisquick into the cart. Shoves his hands into his pockets. Glaring at Alex the whole while.
Here, standing in Wegmans, cart half full between them, John’s upset. Frustrated. He grinds his teeth and shakes his head. “Can we get going?”
“Of course, dearest,” Lafayette oozes. John sends him a sharp look. Hackles raised like his big cats on the TV. He whirls on his heel and marches off. Storming through the aisles with all his righteous fury.
Defeated, Alex tucks his head close to his chest. “Just...don’t.” he whispers. And he doesn’t mean the fights. Doesn’t mean the bruises and the cuts or scratches they leave on each other’s skin. “Don’t leave him.” His expression twists badly. “Not...like. You can break up. If, you need. Of course…. obviously.” He shakes his head. Waves his hand about to prove his point. “But. After. After you fight . Just...don’t leave him.”
“After we fight we watch Animal Planet,” Lafayette reveals. Not sure why it matters at all. It’s an odd thing to say, and even as he says it Lafayette wonders if it’s too revealing. Too personal. If it encroaches on what trust he has built with John. But Alex’s eyes widen a touch. His mouth opens. Eyes blinking as he considers the information.
“He likes that,” Alex informs. Nodding his head. His shock gives way to pleasure. Smile splitting his face. “Just be nice to him.”
The sentence begs clarification. “Or what?”
“Or...or…” Threats fail. Alex can’t seem to work out which one he wants to give. Laughter builds in Lafayette’s chest. He snorts.
“You shall hurt me?” Now Alex is flushing. Embarrassed. Uncertain. “Shall make me suffer?” Lafayette ruffles Alex’s hair. “And I shall deserve it, non? For hurting your dear Laurens? Shall I lift you up so you can choke me yourself, then?” Alex tugs free. “I could lay down? Allow you to step on me?”
“Don’t make this kinky, I’m being serious—”
“Ah! So stepping is kinky is it?”
His young friend is as red as the apples John selected almost twenty minutes ago. “Just do it!” he insists. Uncomfortable. Eager to move on. Lafayette smiles. Leans down to kiss Alex on his head.
“Of course, mon amie. Of course.” It’s a useless request. But it’s sweet of Alex to think that he has any influence on Lafayette at all.
John isn’t a clean person. Not really. It takes Lafayette a while to notice. John doesn’t keep things at Lafayette’s house. The clothes he leaves on the floor are clothes that he puts back on in the morning before he hurries back to his dorm.
And John’s dorm room, a kind of mythical location Lafayette hardly earns permission to see, (It takes nearly a month for Lafayette even to know which dorm John has. And almost two before he peeks beyond John’s door.), it is generally empty. Only a few Textbooks on his desk. Pens arranged nearby. A jacket draped across a chair.
There’s a stuffed toy under John’s blankets. Hiding under the covers and easily disguised as a pillow or a crumpled shirt. He doesn’t say anything to Lafayette when Lafayette finds it crammed between the bed and the wall. Just kneels down and fetches whatever he needs from under his bed.
His room is spotless though. So Lafayette doesn’t realize John’s habit of casual mess until some time later. Just looks around and notices that things are generally picked up and put away in a kind of sparse but efficient style.
It’s the sparsity that strikes Lafayette as odd. Aside from the covers on his bed, the clothes thrown haphazardly in John’s drawer, his books, his bag, his toy— John owns precious little. There’s very few personal effects. Very few belongings. And what he does have seems more like a hoarded trove than anything else.
He’s cleared out the smallest drawer of his dresser and filled it with small little knick-knacks. Lanyard chains, ticket stubs, an envelope with a photograph tucked inside. Lafayette slides his finger across the photo, nudging it out so he could see. The woman’s beautiful. Olive skin just like John, brown hair in perfect curls. She has a smattering of freckles across her face. A small, wide eyed child in her arms. Dark little hands reaching up to cup her cheeks. Smiling wide.
“She’s dead,” John informs him, shoving a book into his bag. He slings it over his shoulder, then stands there awkwardly. Hands squeezing his straps. Rubbing his thumbs back and forth across the buckles. Catching his nail on a spoke.
Lafayette takes a moment to memorize the image, before sliding it back in the envelope and returning it to the drawer. He’s not sure he’s ever seen John look that happy before. Seen his lips smile with joyful abandon. Seen his eyes follow someone with that much devotion.
It’s an intoxicating thought.
John leaves his dorm, and Lafayette follows after him. Step by step, dogging his heels. They walk together to class, and John doesn’t say much. Usually he doesn’t. Lafayette speaks enough for both of them. Providing stories or filling the silences. John speaks, sure, but he tends not to ramble on. Cuts himself off at awkward junctures. Never seems to know how to start.
John’s easier to engage with when he’s running on adrenaline. Easier to converse with when he’s ready to fight. Then, he’ll argue. He’ll instigate. He’ll scream and yell and say things with the intention to hurt. Cruelty sharp and vivid on his talented tongue.
They walk to class, though, and John keeps his head down. His hands locked into place at all times. Hooked either on the straps of his backpack, tucked into the pockets of his jeans, or crossed over his chest. Smiling to himself, Lafayette reaches out and steals John’s left hand. Pulls it from its comfort zone and holds it firm. He feels John jump. Feels his eyes dart down to take in their clasped hands. Dart up to stare at Lafayette’s face.
He doesn’t like it. But his expression slides from survivalist, attempting to get through the day, to calculating architect of his own story. “Something the matter?” Lafayette presses. John shakes his head.
“Just adding to the list of things worth fighting you over.” Lafayette grins. Dark and savage.
That night, when their classes are over and they’re tumbling in Lafayette’s house, John snatches Lafayette’s hand in his. Slams it to the ground. Presses his weight against the delicate bones. “You want to hold my hand?” he asks darkly. Threateningly. Lafayette grins. Let’s John think he won this fight. Relishing in John’s attempts to prove just who the better monster was.
It takes time.
But John’s meager possessions start migrating into Lafayette’s home after that. Keys are left on the counter (his worst grievance yet). Shoes are left in the middle of an open floor. Toed off unthinkingly while John wanders about the house. (He wanders frequently. Trailing room to room as if to inspect that they were still there. Runs his circuit each night before he can sleep. Tears sometimes sliding down his cheeks unconsciously.) Dishes are left in the sink unwashed.
“Do you have something against soap, mon amour?” Lafayette asks as he sighs at the pile. John stares blankly at him. Like he doesn’t quite understand, but isn’t ready to reveal that. Lafayette sighs. It’s fine. For every dish he cleans, he’ll give John another strapping.
John seems to like the scars he leaves.
So it all works out in the end.
It’s the crowds that bother John the most. At first, Lafayette considered John felt so strongly about an increased population because he wanted to hurt them. But it was the opposite. John ducks his head away, keeps his lips quiet. Fumbles for his iPod (a first generation clunker that John saved up every penny to afford), and doesn’t get involved.
He doesn’t like parties. Doesn’t like the loud pounding baseline of the blowouts that happen along the strand. He flinches at raised voices, mutters under his breath a string of words Lafayette can never pick up no matter how hard he tries. (He doesn’t think they’re in English, to be honest. Though the language is lost as John disappears out of the way).
Group projects make him unsettled. Public speaking makes him upset. Lafayette quickly remembers which days John has a lab. Prepares himself before he gets home. Leaves the door unlocked so John can just burst right in. Find him and fight him. Back and forth and back and forth.
Lafayette arranges those days as training days. Takes John down to his basement and leads him onto the padded mats he’s collected. He lets John take him down. Lets him fight and claw and grapple. But he instructs too. Shows John how to get his hands up. How to duck and weave. How to follow a body’s motions. He doesn’t beat John bloody those days. That’s not what John’s after. Not what he really wants.
He trains John because he’s beautiful.
Curly hair bouncing by the nape of his neck. Face wet with sweat. John fights like he needs it to survive. Fights day and night as if it’s the only thing keeping him alive. There’s beauty to be found in a survivalist like John. And John soars under Lafayette’s guidance. Takes the pain and frustration from his day and channels it into something that makes him truly happy.
Their sessions always end with Lafayette pinning John with a move he hasn’t learned how to counter yet. Holding him in a tight grasp as he jerks John’s pants down past his knees. Bites as his shoulder and squeezes his wrists. “Mine,” he growls into John’s ear. Possessive. It’s the only word John ever needs to be told. John’s eyes roll back in his head and he moans as Lafayette breeches him hard and fast.
When Alex had introduced them ages ago, telling Lafayette that John was his best friend, he’d implied they’d known each other for ages. John never contradicted that. But as Alex slowly started disappearing from their lives, spending more time with Aaron, not answering text messages until far too late, Lafayette wonders just how close they truly were. Alex hardly seems to be paying attention to John these days. Rarely answering when John reaches out.
The hurt is obvious.
As Lafayette trains John, shapes him into the perfect partner, he can see the hurt. Can see it now, with John laying beneath him. Face awash with pleasure even as there’s blood on his hands. Head pulled back in a tight grip.
Alex hasn’t seen it. Hasn’t seen the way John’s jaw clenches as he tries not to speak. The way John’s aggression has been steadily rising. Demeanor shifting from loyal friend to vengeful lover.
Lafayette presses deeper into John’s body and whispers into John’s ear. “I’m not letting go,” he warns. Promises. John nods either way. Pulling his hair, heedlessly. It is so worthwhile.
This is what they do.
John takes his anger out on Lafayette, and Lafayette puts him back in his place. And when they’re done, Lafayette brings John to his bed. Holds him down as his eyes leak tears in the moments just before he falls asleep. “Don’t leave him,” Alex had requested. Lafayette wonders if he’d said so because Alex had every intention of leaving John instead.
It’s not a pleasant thought. When John’s eyes finally close, tears falling even as he drifts to sleep, Lafayette imagines punishing Alex for this. For the turmoil John feels. For the insecurity so blatantly obvious that it leaves a physical trail in its wake. He wonders how many people look right through John Laurens. How many crowds forget the fact that John is there. Standing amongst them. Just asking to be noticed.
But he never is. Surrounded by countless people, John Laurens has mastered the art of fading into obscurity. It’s not what he wants.
And certainly not what he needs.
When John gets sick, he goes silent. Irrevocably, fundamentally, silent. He says nothing to anyone. Keeps his head down. Refuses to answer text messages, phone calls, or the pounding of a fist on his dorm room door. Lafayette understands the reaction, but not the cause. He reached out for John like he usually did, and there was radio silence on the other side. Two days later, that radio silence encourages something insufferably close to worry.
Alex, now almost impossible to get a hold of, was his only source of information. He skipped a class to wait for Alex to leave one of his classes. Aaron shows up right when it was about to let out, and Lafayette flashes a bright toothy grin at the man the moment he realizes who’s standing there.
Aaron’s brow furrows. His lips purse. He doesn’t care much for Lafayette. Apparently kidnapping a man truly doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. “What are you doing here?” he asks slowly, eyeing Lafayette head to toe. His gaze flicked about, as if he can summon Laurens by thought alone. Would that Aaron could, it’d save Lafayette a great deal of trouble.
“I had a question for little Alex,” he replies with a smile. “He’s not answering my calls.” Aaron frowns a touch, but seems to accept the response. The doors to Dr. Harris’ English class burst open and students flood out.
Alex shoulders his way through the crowd, going directly to Aaron and pressing his head to Aaron’s chest. No eyes for anyone else. Not a care in the world. It’s actually quite dissatisfying. Lafayette swallows back the irritation that comes so naturally. “Do I get a hug as well?” he asks.
And Alex turns, stares at him with wide eyes. Shocked beyond belief. “Laf?” Pulling away from Aaron he makes an aborted movement to do just that. But he glances at Aaron. Checking his permission or his temperament, Lafayette isn’t sure. He’s not interested. He steps forward and wraps his arms around Alex’s body. Squeezes tight and picks him up. Grinning at the gasp that whispers past his ear.
“I was hoping you might know where John is? He seems to have stopped answering my calls.” He says it just so. Happily implying Alex should get better at responding too. And it works. Alex flushes. Pulls his phone out and opens it. Starts poking at the numbers on the screen until he’s written a quick message.
It buzzes back almost immediately. Annoyance starts laughing in Lafayette’s ear. Mocking him and reminding him why his relationship with John is primarily physical. Desire mounts a valiant defense. Arguing that John’s opened a door to true reprimand. That he deserves everything that’s going to come to him— “John’s sick.”
The phone is entered into evidence. The text messages, Exhibits A and B respectively. Lafayette holds it tenderly. Reads the pixelated letters.
Lafayette frowns at it. Not understanding. But before he can ask, Alex is glancing back at Burr. Reaching for Lafayette’s arm and dragging him a few steps away. “He’s got...a thing?” Alex offers weakly. Shifting his weight around. Biting his lip. He seems supremely unsettled. Even goes so far as to start mumbling about visiting John and changing plans with Aaron. “It’s just...when he’s sick. He doesn’t like to tell people. Deals with it on his own.”
There’s a story Lafayette hasn’t heard. It’s clear Alex wants to tell it too. But it’s John’s story, and Alex is respecting his friend’s privacy. It’d be admirable if it wasn’t so distasteful. Lafayette doesn’t like gossip, and he’s not even sure he cares all that much about this particular story as it is. But he does know that John’s been ignoring him. And if it is because he’s sick, Lafayette wants to see how bad.
Next time this happens, he needs to know the basics. “You have a key to his dorm room, yes?” Lafayette asks. He reaches into Alex’s pocket and plucks his keys free. Flips them around his ring until the key in question settles on his palm. He slips it off the ring, Alex watching with wide eyes.
The Do Not Copy is stamped in large letters along the base, though more than a few willing smiths around town are willing to ignore that. Alex shifts uncomfortably. “He won’t like you going there,” he warns.
“Return to little Burr, Alex,” Lafayette tells him. It’s the out Alex wants in any case. If Alex had cared enough, he’d turn Lafayette down. For half a second, Alex seems ready to do just that. His expression goes stormy. Argumentative. Like that day in the store when he demanded Lafayette treat John right.
The moment’s broken by Aaron. He steps closer. “Everything all right?” Alex jumps. Stares at his boyfriend with wide eyes.
“Everything’s fine little Burr,” Lafayette answers sweetly. He turns on his heel. And leaves Alex with Aaron.
They’ll know where to find them.
John’s curled under blankets and surrounded by tissues. He’s running a fever. Sleeping far too long in one place. He’s cracked the window to his dorm. Cold air billowing in unimpeded. Lafayette approaches the bed and frowns down at the shivering mess. Cell phone lying uselessly in John’s hand. He’s breathing short and shallow. Coughing through every other breath in his sleep.
Several bottles of medicine and vitamins are stacked on his desk. A mug of cold tea next to it. Lafayette frowns at the bag. Recognizing it as his own preferred brand. One he simply adores. He has a box at his house. And after their fights, when John’s curled up watching Animal Planet, he’ll give John a mug of it. And John always drinks it down.
Seeing it now brings a smile to Lafayette’s face. Makes him bounce on his toes. He reaches toward John’s damp locks. Runs a hand through his hair.
John flinches. Waking up abruptly. Fearfully. There’s something there. Something more primal and tragic. But it’s gone in a flash. John throws himself to the wall. Coughing and gasping. One hand still clutching the stuffed toy he usually hid. Puke green. Missing one eye. Mismatched green and brown feet. Stuffing poking out along a seam. A turtle, Lafayette thinks absently.
“Mon cherie, you look awful.” He might have had a response. Might have had something he wanted to say. But he ruined it all by sneezing. Hard and fast. Snot exploding onto his hands. Lafayette snatched the box of Kleenex and handed it to John immediately. Lips curling at the sight of the mess.
Caretaking….is not Lafayette’s forte. He glances about the room more as a confirmation than any real desire to assist. John’s miserable. Physically incapable of fighting. And frankly...he’s not going to be pleasurable company. Coughing. Sneezing. Likely getting Lafayette sick in the meanwhile.
John hastily wipes off his snot. Crumples up the tissue and tosses it to the side. He pulls his knees up to his chest, and stares at Lafayette. Waiting for him to come to a decision. Stay or go. This is Lafayette’s choice, and he knows that it will change things for them. Somehow. It will cause a shift. John’s prolonged wellbeing remained in Lafayette’s best interests in any case. But...actually accomplishing that felt like an unsurmountable pass.
He’s openly distasteful towards the collected tissues strewn about the room, but it doesn’t stop him from reaching out and pulling John’s fevered body to his chest. From picking John up entirely, marveling in the surprising lack of fight.
John’s head lolls to his shoulder. His eyes start to droop. He’s heedless of Lafayette’s direction. His plans. Trusting in a way no one’s ever trusted Lafayette before. It occurs to him he could destroy John Laurens. Do exactly what Alex warned him not to do. Take this gentle soul, hidden behind thickets of inch long thorns, and crush it beneath his boot. Weak, and trusting, John is his to do what he wants to.
He presses his lips to John’s brow. Feels the warmth heat his flesh. And carries John out of the dorm. Brings him to his car and settles him into the front seat. He drives John home. Then reverses the process. Carrying John out of the car and into his own house. Settles him onto the sofa John likes to lay on. Wraps a blanket around his shoulders.
He turns on Animal Planet. Smiles when John’s hazy eyes slowly trail back up to watch. The tears are back. Slipping down his cheeks unconsciously as Jackson Galaxy explains the best way to appease a terror cat. There’s some prescription strength sudafed beneath Lafayette’s bathroom sink. He brings it to John and get’s him another cup of tea.
John sleeps through the night. Hardly aware of anything.
In the morning his fever breaks.
And he’s only a little confused when he asks Lafayette how he ended up back at the house. It can be nice on occasion, Lafayette thinks, to take care of someone else from time to time. He picks up the turtle from where John dropped it, and settles it against John’s chest. The man flushes red, immediately hiding it from view beneath the covers. “Late last night,” Lafayette assures. “You were very sick.”
“Not sick enough,” Laurens mumbles.
Lafayette pretends has no idea what he means. That’s one train of thought he has no desire to follow.
They’ve been together for six months.
John’s head is resting against Lafayette’s thigh. His turtle, Ella, is in his arms. His iPod playing music in his ears. Je ne Regrette Rien playing just loud enough for Lafayette to hear it. To smile as he trails his fingers up and down John’s bruised arms. Tracing the curves of strong muscles and defined bone structure.
John’s keys are on Lafayette’s counter. His shoes are kicked into the middle of the floor behind them. Lafayette finds that he carries John to bed more often than not. Dragging his limping body there, or smiling at the exhausted man he’d broken to the point no muscle mass will help. He’s left John boneless and blissful far too often to count.
They fight every day. They train every other day. John knows things about Lafayette that Lafayette’s never told anyone else, and Lafayette knows things about John that he doubts John’s even shared with Alex.
Lafayette knows that John’s terrified of the dark. Knows John’s scared of being abandoned. Knows that John’s mother died in a car crash. That his money comes from a life insurance policy she’d set up in his name and his alone. Knows that Ella is the last thing John’s mother ever gave to him. Knows that there is nothing else in the world that would crush John’s soul more than the destruction of that small insignificant toy.
They’ve been watching The Blue Planet. He’d gotten it for John’s nineteenth birthday. (John had stared at the blue box for nearly an hour. Hands wrapped around its sides. Squeezing it tightly. He held it to his chest for the rest of their dinner together. Hardly saying a word. Nodding when Lafayette prompted him to. Letting Lafayette play host. Letting him do whatever he wanted. Not a trace of fight in his system. It’s how Lafayette learns the most fascinating part of John.
Punch him all you want. But the first sign of true kindness leaves him raw and vulnerable. Breakable and so fragile. He knows without a shadow of a doubt, he owns John Laurens body and soul.)
John’s been dozing for a while now. Ocean scenes calming him into slumber. Music dragging him under. Lafayette's seen this documentary so many times he can quote it word for word. They've made a compromise. John gets to leave it on, but it'll stay on mute. Lafayette will still sit with him, but he gets to entertain himself however he wants. Tonight, he'd been reading. John's iPod calming to both of them.
But John's started to slip from relaxation to sleep. And the tears have started to form. Epiphora, Lafayette has learned it’s called. John’s not crying...he’s just leaking . His lips twitch. Amused. John’s breathing is slowing to a crawl. Sleep coming oh so soon. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Lafayette asks, losing his hand in John’s hair.
John breathes in quickly. Starling himself more awake. He blinks languidly. Trying to focus. Thinking. It takes him time when he really wants to get it out right. “Marine biologist,” he answers eventually.
Lafayette’s seen the classes John takes. Has noticed the science focus. The attention on anatomy and physiology. Biology. He’s smart. Terribly smart. The tests John gets back are carefully placed in a binder. His incorrect questions researched and corrected in a notepad. John’s notes are neat. Methodical. He’s quiet about his research. Doesn’t like to talk about it.
But Lafayette’s also seen the other books. The ones that have started migrating to their bedroom upstairs. The ones about leatherback turtles. The ones that have circles around numbers are dates. Around flowcharts and weather patterns.
He’s struck, suddenly, by the notion that he sees John in ways few people do. With Alex’s sudden and abrupt abandonment, John’s been his for so long. Undisturbed. His garden to grow and weed and pluck and prune into line. Flourishing under his care. And while 78% of the time, John is harsh and violent. There are moments where violence is gone.
Where John’s his boyfriend. Nothing more and nothing less. “Je pense que Je t'aime, John Laurens,” he whispers in John’s ear.
John freezes against his body. Stiff as a board. His lips tremble. Sounding out words. His eyes close. His cheeks are still so damp from before. “Moi aussi,” he whispers. He's getting better at French.
Lafayette hugs him even closer. Tighter and tighter. John relaxing with each passing second. Irrevocably his. “I believe in you,” he mouths against John’s lips. “My monstrous biologist.” John doesn’t answer. Just purses his lips. Kisses him slow to start. Then increases the pressure.
Lafayette has one thought as he reacquaints himself to John’s body. This is everything he ever wanted. And nothing is going to take John away. "Je ne regrette rien."