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A Real Man

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The uncharacteristically quiet apartment was proving to be a difficult environment to work in. Logically, the quiet would have offered Alex a perfect opportunity to get something done but it was actually doing the exact opposite.

He never realized how empty the place felt without you and your normal routine. He knew you hadn’t felt well this morning and graciously let you stay in bed for the rest of the day. Still, he missed your presence. He missed your voice. You’d always be singing or at least humming to yourself no matter what you were doing. On your phone, on your laptop, walking around, cleaning, showering. He absolutely adored it. Hearing you there comforted him in a way. As a result, this new found silence was far from his favourite.

Regardless of his own wants, he opted to leave you alone to rest as he continued to write his newest work. Only the noises of the keyboard occupied the space around him as he continued to write. He had been working for hours, only pausing to go to the bathroom or to stretch. Once Alexander got focused, it was pretty difficult to get him out of his own world.

For the first time that day, there was noise in the apartment beside Alexander’s constant typing. A singular groan. He didn’t pay much attention at first, fully aware of the noise but not giving it much thought. He figured you were sleeping and possibly dreaming but when a second groan sounded a bit more intense than the last, his attention shifted. Upon hearing it, the typing noises ceased immediately. Lowering his glasses, he focused and listened for the sound to repeat itself.

A minute had passed and he heard nothing. He was about to continue working when a louder groan sounded for the third time.

Without any further hesitation, he stood up and closed his laptop, tucking it under his arm as he walked towards the room the two of you shared. His knuckles lightly knocked on the door,

 

“(Y/N)? Can I come in?”



He was met with no approval but no protest and decided to let himself in. The view in front of him, although nothing new, pained him.

He saw you curled up in blankets, face hidden by the millions of pillows that threatened to fall every time you moved in attempts to ease your cramps. Alex walked over to the left side of the bed, placing his laptop on the nightstand.

 

“What’s wrong?”



His voice was quiet and gentle as he sat next to you on the bed. He had already known what was wrong but didn’t know how else to approach the situation. Every month this happened yet he never felt prepared. He never knew how to ease the suffering.

 

“It’s bad today.”

 

Alex watched as you sat up, seeing that your eyes had been red from crying. Even if this was routine, he was never ready to see the pain it caused you. He knew you consciously tried to quiet your groans and sobs as to not disturb him. He hated it. He wished you’d tell him when something was wrong and not worry about interrupting his work. Especially when you really needed him, like you did now. Even if he couldn’t relate, he wanted to be there for you.

 

“Tell me how to help you. Please.” The genuine concern in his voice and the warmth of him being by your side was already helping you, even if it did seem minuscule. But it didn’t stop the feelings altogether.

“Fix me and make me a real man.” You let out a forced laugh, attempting to make the plea a little more lighthearted.... it didn’t work.


Alex didn’t miss a second before he spoke again to defend you,

“Hey, listen to me. You are a man. Nothing will ever change that. Not others opinions, not any of your doubts, not even your own body. You are a real man and most importantly, you’re my man. If I could, I’d take this pain and endure it for you. I’d do anything to make you happy.”

“Anything?”

“Yes! Yes, anything you want! Name it and consider it done.”
The possibility of making you feel better excited him and he was all ears as he waited for your response.

“I know you’re working but can you work near me instead? Just be next to me?”



He smiled at your simple request before turning to grab his laptop off of the nightstand right next to him. He readjusted himself so he could comfortably rest his laptop on his legs. He scrolled for a few seconds before picking one of your favourite playlists. Seconds later, calm music began to play and he began typing again.

His brow furrowed as he began to regain focus. His fingers typed quickly as if trying to keep up with how quickly his mind works. His physical body was struggling to keep pace with that brilliant mind of his. So quick witted. So efficient. The thought that you were witnessing one of the college's top students at work crossed your mind, causing a small smile to form on your face. You got to witness this every day. You were the one person he shared every single one of his thoughts and ideas with and you cherished that. He felt free to tell you anything at the risk of sounding stupid yet you'd never been especially cruel to any of his ideas. You'd tell him when some thoughts were a bit much and usually far fetched but you never made him feel stupid. Sometimes his dreamed so big and his head was so high up in the clouds, he'd get lost in his own mind. He was happy to have you to bring him back down to Earth every now and then. And in turn, he did the same to you. Even if you weren't a top student like he was, he treated you like one. All your ideas and concepts were important to him. You could easily recall many nights where the two of you sat awake, just talking about everything and anything. He hung onto every word that left your mouth and you did the same. 

Allowing yourself to reminisce in past memories, your fingers preoccupied themselves by playing with the hem of his sweater. The texture of the fabric between your fingers calmed you down and just having him near you made you feel a little better already. How could you remain upset when he loved you so much. He stopped typing just to smile down at you before calling your attention with a soft "hey". As soon as you looked up, you felt a kiss being pressed against your forehead. Sweet and gentle. He leaned back against the pillows and said one last phrase before he continued working, 


"Best of men. Best of boyfriends."


 

The consistent sound of the keyboard and the soft music was almost therapeutic and you found yourself snuggled as close to him as you could be without disturbing his work. 

He’d progressed with his writing quickly as time went by and he seemed to be writing faster than he typically did. Was he just passionate about this paper or was he behind?  Was he rushing? Had you delayed him? Curiosity got the best of you and had given you the courage to try and ask but as you opened your mouth to speak, he sighed deeply and stopped typing. The sound of typing stopped for the first time since he had sat next to you. His hands, previously occupying the keyboard, were now being ran through his hair in frustration. 

"Can you help me for a second, love?"

You immediately sat up and nodded, trying to hide your slight drowsiness.

 "What was that french word you told me about a few weeks ago? The one that describes the joy of being reunited with someone after a long departure?"

The fact that he remembered the exact definition you gave him but not the word itself.
You had almost forgotten it too but after a few seconds of thought, it came back, "Retrouvailles."

"Ah! Yeah! That one! Thank you!" You were given a quick kiss before he returned to his work. 

You wondered what he needed that word for. You would have asked him if you had forgotten about your earlier worries. You figured you should ask him now before he got any more focused on what he was writing.

“Are you behind now? With your work?”

“Of course not. I mean I could be further but I’m in a good place. That’s why I chose to take a break earlier.”

Earlier when he came to check on you. That was a small break actually, only five minutes at max but it was still possible that it delayed his progress. The amount of work Alexander could get done is just five minutes was impressive but he spent those five with you. 

“You? Choosing to take a break? Yeah right.”


Between the two of you laughing, he hadn’t responded with any sort of comeback. He knew it was true. Known for being a workaholic and dedicated to his studies, his name and the phrase “taking a break” together in one sentence was unheard of. You certainly wouldn’t have believed it if you hadn’t witnessed it with your own eyes. He had actually stopped writing for even just a moment, just to make sure you were okay. As touched as you were, the guilt of interrupting his work still loomed.

“So how far behind are you? And how far ahead could you have been?”

“Hey, don’t worry so much.,” He gave you a sincere look and held your hand for a moment.

“I told you it’s okay. Besides, it wasn’t all those law papers for once. Finished all of those yesterday.”


You were genuinely shocked and it showed on your face. Not shocked he had finished his law papers but shocked he was working on anything besides law. He was almost always doing something involving his major.

A small laugh bubbled from his mouth as he saw your reaction. He stood and lifted his arms above his head as he arched his back. His bones popped and cracked loudly, pulling a satisfied sigh from him.

“Do you want some tea?”

“Mr. Hamilton, are you taking yet another break?”

“Y’know, smart asses don’t get tea.”

“Do we have peach tea?” You smiled innocently at him to which he smirked before responding.

“For me, yes."

“Alexander!”



He laughed and waved his hand at you, signaling for you to relax. You stood up after he had walked away and stretched just like he had but not quite as satisfying. Returning cramps quickly ended the stretch before you could really enjoy it. You groaned in response to the pain as you approached the bathroom.

Once there, you did what you had to, trying your best to keep the dysphoria at bay long enough for you to finish and wash your hands. Your gaze never met the mirror and had remained glued to the floor for the most part. You knew if you looked in the mirror, you wouldn’t like what you saw. It felt pathetic to be this fearful of a simple reflection. You thought you were getting better at managing your gender dysphoria but your shaking hands told you otherwise. Tears began to well up again, clinging to your bottom lashes.

Alexander could make it easy to forget for a while but he couldn’t stop the all of the thoughts all of the time. He couldn't always be there to look after you. You tried to remind yourself of every time he had called you a handsome boy, his man, his baby boy, his prince, best of men, best of boyfriends, or anything similar.  But with every compliment he gave you, you could think of an insult or taunt someone else had said. Despite your best efforts, any time you had been told you weren’t a real boy came rushing back into your mind all at once, drowning out Alex's positivity. The flood of insecurities provoked you to lift your head and look in the mirror.

The reflection made your heart drop.

You knew you weren't the epitome of masculinity but you didn't think you looked this feminine. Not wearing a binder left you with a noticeable chest but there was no way you could bind during your period. Your chest was always sensitive at this time and the ache would only worsen if you pushed yourself to bind. The pajama shirt wasn’t as loose as you’d like it to be and the way your pants rested on the curve of your hips didn’t help either. This wasn’t how you wanted to look. This wasn’t who you were supposed to be.

A feeling of unease settled over you again. You sniffled once.
And then again.
And then another sniffle.
And more kept coming until before you knew it, you were crying again despite mentally begging yourself not to. You had just stopped crying. Alex was going to hear if you didn’t stop and you'd only put him further behind with his work. You leaned forward and rested your palms on the edge of the sink to try and steady yourself. You desperately tried to will yourself to stop before he got back but it was too late.

His voice was gentle again as he spoke to you from the other side of the bathroom door,

“I’m coming in, okay?”


Again prompting permission to be given but getting no sign of disapproval, he let himself him.

His feet made almost no noise against the tiled floor so when his arms wrapped around your waist from behind, you whimpered in fear and flinched in response. He backed away thinking you didn’t want to be touched but your hand was on his wrist within seconds, keeping him there. Understanding what you wanted now, he turned you around and pulled you as close as he could, not bothering to ask what was wrong or how he could help. He had asked those two questions over and over, yet never being able to fix anything. He was tired of not being able to help. To him, he was just watching you suffer and letting it happen. As far from the truth as that was, he was convinced he could be doing more. He went above and beyond but still wanted to make a bigger effort to help you. 

For now, he thought the least he could do was let you calm down, smoothing your hair down and whispering reassurances to you. 

The two of you stayed in that position for a little while after you stopped crying, Alexander just making sure you were really okay before his hand found yours, lacing his fingers between yours as he led you back to bed. Another kiss was pressed against your forehead before he laid you back down and helped you get comfortable. He looked down at you, admiring the sight of you. Messy hair, comfy pajamas, tired eyes. Even like this, you made his heart melt. 

 

“I’ll be right back. Choose something to watch.”


He handed you the remote and walked out before you could ask him anything. Left alone with his laptop still open next to you, it was tempting to peek at what he was writing but before you could, there was a louder crash from the kitchen followed by an even louder string of curse words.

 

“Alexander?”



“It’s fine!! Everything is fine just stay there!!”

 

Truly not wanting to get up, you decide against your better judgment to trust him. Another glance towards the laptop makes you feel guilty for even considering it and you push it away from you a little further before turning your attention to the tv.

More noise in the kitchen worried you but you decided to let it act as background noise as you scrolled through the seemingly never ending options on Netflix. You didn’t see anything new and were ready to give up until you remembered you never finished rewatching The X-Files or the Walking Dead. Not being able to choose between the two you decided to wait until Alexander came back and let him have the final say.

You tried being patient. You really did. But patience was never your strong suit. Again, your curiosity plagued you and before you even realized what you were doing, his laptop was facing you and you were quickly scanning through his writing.

As you did so, you found it was one of his creative writing pieces. He rarely did those nowadays since he was always focused on his major. You only got so far into the writing when a voice pulled your attention away.

 

“Someone sure is nosy.”

 

He laughs as you quickly push the laptop away from you, pretending to be innocent. You were ready to plead your case but you stopped once you saw what he had carried in.

 

“Here I am, struggling to gather all of this and I come back to find you invading my privacy!”

 

You know he’s joking but the guilt weighs heavy on you. You stutter as you try to apologize as he comes to sit by your side, still smiling.

He places the tray of food between the two of you and grabs his laptop to place it on his lap once more. He starts saying something else but your focus is on the snacks he brought. He picked out all of your favourites, some of which you didn’t even know you had in the house. He must have bought some earlier that week. Your favourite candies, chips, and other snacks piled on top of each other next to two hot cups of peach tea.

 

“But now you have to wait.”


You only catch the last part of his sentence and you feel your cheeks redden, feeling bad for not only invading his privacy but now also ignoring him afterward. He was looking at you, clearly awaiting a response. You realized you were going to have to admit you were too focused on the food to have been paying attention.

When he hears you admit this, he shakes his head and laughs again.


“All I said was since I caught you being nosy, you’ll have to wait till I am completely done with it before you get to read it. I was going to allow you a sneak peek but you seem to have helped yourself to it.”

“I-I am really sorry, Alexander.”



“Hey,” his hand comes to pet your head as he reassures you, “I’m not mad. I was just teasing you.”



Not knowing what to say, you sit up straight and grab one of the cups of tea in front of you. You take a few sips as Alex closes his laptop and keeps talking.
“What’re we watching?”



“That’s up to you. Aliens or zombies?”

 

“I think I’m in a zombie kind of mood.”

 

You beamed with excitement as you placed the cup down and reached for the remote again.You were caught up with all 7 seasons of the Walking Dead but Alexander wasn’t. His reactions were sure to be priceless and you couldn’t wait to see them.

As you set up the snacks and got Netflix ready to play the first episode of season 6, Alex’s eyes never left you. He wasn’t sure how but he had got you smiling today. It still bothered him that he couldn’t “fix” anything for you but at least he knew he could make you smile still. Even if he could only distract you for a moment, seeing you this happy was worth it. When you turned back to him with a smile, asking him if he was ready, he nodded and he laced his fingers between yours.