It was a balmy summer night, one of those where you could go outside in your pajamas and stargaze. It was one of those nights where one never really felt alone, surrounded by soft breezes and a buzzing somewhere in the distance. Even at this late hour, there was a lot going on at Pierre's garden party, an event that fit the midsummer night perfectly. The sun set for the last time for the next few days, leaving a thin line of light painted across the horizon. Everyone was partying and giddily dancing to the music, singing along and laughing together. The area was filled with loud voices, yet still so tiny and quiet in the endless night. Alex and Lando were busy discussing something about the plants around them while George was taking pictures of them with the most cliche Polaroid camera. Some of the other guests surrounded the barbecue grill and the buffet, Nico was stealing all the appetizers and just like that, everyone was enjoying the night while keeping each other company.
Daniel was engrossed in the song that was currently playing softly and filling the garden with good vibes, cutting the rug with Charles, the alcohol in their blood supporting their actions. He noticed dizziness from spinning around, way too hot, even for the summer season. He felt his legs ache after jumping around, the sweat sticking to his skin and running down his back, luckily not visible under his black shirt. He started to grow tired and after a while he decided it was enough, his lungs burning when he inhaled and his stomach hurting from all the laughing.
To calm down he distanced himself from the small group of people that were still left in the garden lit by fairy lights and various candles and walked through the soft grass. Dew was already forming on the culms around him, sticking to the skin of his legs and bringing a pleasant cool feeling with them as the wind blew by. There was another chain of lights over his head, looping around the strong branches of the last linden before the dark night embraced him on his way to the wood.
When he passed the first old trees in front of him the music subsided and the only source of light was the moon, standing high and proud in the night sky and bathing the wood in soft, silver light. Suddenly, the chirruping of the crickets played the music of the night, keeping Daniel's company as he walked down the lonely path. The cool, fresh air revived his senses and cleared his head, awareness of the alcohol in his veins spreading through his body. A few twigs cracked under the weight his body put on them and the typical smell of wood was in the air, soothing his nerves and bringing him back to reality. A faint memory of past summers, the scent of fresh green leaves and the soft soil under his feet; it was too real to ignore.
The moonlight showed him the way to a lighter area where the ground was covered in moss, muffling Daniel's steps. He could make out the outline of a person, apparently a little taller than him, their hair shimmering in the soft moonlight.
"Take off your shoes", was all the stranger said, still not facing Daniel but obviously talking to him. A little confused he pursued the request, stuffing his colorful socks into the shoes he was now holding in his hands. The pillowy moss nestled up to his feet, causing goosebumps to spread across his skin.
"Can you hear them?"
"Can I hear what now?" Daniel never felt this confused before, the alcohol only adding to it. He had no idea what was going on, the whole situation was surreal and definitely not what he would've expected to happen this late at night in a random wood near Pierre's garden.
"The lightning bugs, the fireflies. If you keep really quiet in summer you can hear them", the soft voice replied and when the stranger turned around to face him, Daniel was able to identify them as his friend, an unusual peaceful look on his face and a faint smile on his lips.
"Yes, Danny?" The older one didn't know how to reply, his head emptied all of a sudden. Was his friend drunk? Or maybe even high? He didn't behave in such a calm way usually, always fast and loud and hot-headed and rarely aware of his surroundings. This was so very different, Daniel was not used to this new Max at all. In the past few months, he got to know his friend better than he thought he ever would, but not once was the other male this collected.
He felt the younger male's hand on his shoulder, the weight and the warmth of his palm. It made Daniel's stomach tingle but he didn't dare to speak, standing in silence and listening to the crickets and fireflies around them. Max was right, there was a faint humming, vibrating in the air and in his chest. The sea of lights embraced them, the luminescence of greenish bugs looking like a million tiny stars. Daniel followed their flight paths until his eyes got stuck on Max's face, his soft features, his genuine smile in the dark and his eyes reflecting the golden light.
They didn't say a single word, just looked into each other's eyes, blue ones meeting brown, and smiled, hearts full of freedom in the dark. Daniel shivered when he felt Max's hand resting in his nape, spreading a tingling sensation all over his skin when he pulled him closer. He felt nervous and jittery, yet calm and as if this was exactly where he was supposed to be. At that moment, he felt a wave of happiness hit him and ... unconditional love. Love?
Was he in love with Max? It seemed like an odd idea, not really something he ever considered, but now that he was standing there, his arms around Max's waist and feeling their lips move in sync, a warm feeling filling his heart and the tingle returning, there was no doubt in his heart anymore.