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Do Not Take Me From Your Laughter

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Take bread away from me, if you wish, / take air away, but / do not take from me your laughter.

 

Raphael hears Simon before he sees him. His burst of laughter is a tangible presence that sends a warm feeling throughout his chest. He enters the foyer to find Stan pouting at the TV and Simon on his side, giggles rushing past his lips in short pants.

 

“I ca-can’t believe you shot yourself! Like ho-how does that even hap-happen?”

 

Do not take away the rose, / the lance flower that you pluck, / the water that suddenly / bursts forth in joy, / the sudden wave /of silver born in you.

 

Raphael walks hand in hand with Simon. The streets of New York can be lonely at night, but walking with Simon as he swings their hands back and forth, humming a tune Raphael can’t place, he begins to forget about the concept of loneliness.

 

His reflections are interrupted by Simon’s abrupt laughter,  Raphael curiously follows Simon’s gaze. In the middle of the sidewalk is a goose. Simon senses Raphael’s confusion and says between giggles, “We’re gonna want to cross the street.”

 

Raphael stares incredulously at Simon. “Are you seriously scared of a goose?” He guides Simon to the other side of the street as Simon keeps side-eying the goose, ensuring it won’t follow them.

 

Raphael scoffs playfully at Simon. Simon’s a vampire and he’s scared of a bird.

 

He tells Simon how ludicrous he is being, but Simon responds with an unbelievable story (to normal people but honestly anything can happen with Simon) about how him and Clary were chased by geese in Central Park when they were seven, and how Simon can’t help but recall this traumatic instance every time he sees a goose; all of this said between the spread of his fingers as he covers his mouth slightly to suppress the bubbling laughter.

 

My struggle is harsh and I come back / with eyes tired / at times from having seen / the unchanging earth, / but when your laughter enters / it rises to the sky seeking me / and it opens for me all / the doors of life.

 

Raphael labors over the agreement resting on his desk, scratching out sentences and rewriting them to better outline the clan’s demands. Simon sits on the sofa in his office, diagonal from Raphael, watching some cartoon that has him in stitches. Raphael clears his throat, hoping to silence Simon’s noise, but its drowned out by a burst of laughter.

 

Raphael growls, “I’m clearly trying to work.”

 

Simon turns off the TV and gives Raphael an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry, Raph. I can leave.”

 

Raphael feels guilt twist in his gut, tight and sharp. “Simon, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have snap-”

 

“It’s okay.” Simon stands and walks toward Raphael, dropping a kiss on his forehead. Raphael leans into his touch. “You’re just stressed. I’ll go see what Penelope is doing. We have a game of Magic to finish.”

 

Raphael nods and squeezes Simon’s hand. Simon walks to the door but trips on the rug underneath Raphael’s desk. He flails, collapsing pathetically on the it and bursts into a fit of giggles.

 

Raphael rolls his eyes, grinning as Simon picks himself up with an “I meant to do that.”

 

My love, in the darkest / hour your laughter / opens, and if suddenly / you see my / blood staining / the stones of the street, / laugh, because your laughter / will be / for my hands / like a fresh sword.

 

Raphael heard the sound of the teeth piercing his flesh more than he felt it, but the demon is instantly wrenched off of him, Simon’s teeth sinking and tearing into the beast’s neck, sending it back to the hell it slithered from.

 

Raphael slumps against the wall behind him, breath puffing out in quick bursts. He tears the fang from his chest; blood seeps from the wound. He leans his head back as unsteady hands caress his face.

 

“Raphael, are you all right?”

 

Raphael groans in response. “I’m okay, just a little sore. It’ll heal nicely now that it’s out of my chest.”

 

Simon lets loose a shaky breath as Raphael reaches up to wipe the blood streaming down Simon’s eyes. “You might have to carry me back to the hotel, though. Think your weak fledgling self can handle that?”

 

Simon laughs, but it’s pained and sharp. Raphael hears the unacknowledged love and desperate fear released in it. He brings Simon in for a kiss, a gentle peck on the lips, then a kiss on each cheek, eyelid, and his nose. Simon huffs out a chuckle and Raphael smiles, victorious.

 

Next to the sea in the autumn, / your laughter must raise / its foamy cascade, / and in the spring, love, / I want your laughter like / the flower I was waiting for, / the blue flower, the rose / of my echoing country.

 

Raphael leans into Simon, pressing into him. He straddles Simon’s lap, kissing him intently. Simon groans into the kiss, lips bloody from drinking from Raphael’s neck. Raphael decides to return the favor as he presses his lips down Simon’s neck and rests them on his carotid. Something about drinking from such a vital vein leaves them both feeling powerful yet vulnerable, a combination he only allows himself to feel around Simon. He nips at the skin then pierces it with a gasp from Simon. He drinks and drinks and drinks. The blood is warm, intoxicating and enthralling him. Simon whines, desperate and high. Raphael licks gently at the wound on Simon’s neck, healing the punctures. He grips Simon’s side, attempting to readjust his position, but is met with a yelp.

 

His eyes flicker to Simon’s, immediately concerned, but only finds Simon’s warning glare.

 

“Don’t do that,” Simon warns.

 

Raphael quirks an eyebrow then it dawns on him. “Are you ticklish?”

 

Simon scowls. “No.”

 

Raphael smirks and squeezes Simon’s sides once more. Simon squirms beneath him. A snicker leaves Raphael’s lips as he attacks Simon’s sides with his nimble fingers. Simon shrieks beneath him, trying to get away from Raphael’s touch but only moving closer, his panting laughter encouraging Raphael.

 

Seeing Raphael’s glee, Simon playfully growls and flips Raphael over, pinning him to the bed. Raphael smiles up at him, and Simon sighs, a giggle leaking past.

 

“No more.”

 

“Whatever you say,” Raphael sings. “Now, I have a weapon I can use later.”

 

Simon sticks his tongue out playfully. Raphael reaches up to bite him but is instead met with eager lips. Raphael doesn’t completely forget about Simon’s ticklish tendencies but is mollified by the presence of Simon’s lips.

 

Laugh at the night, / at the day, at the moon, / laugh at the twisted / streets of the island, / laugh at this clumsy / boy who loves you, / but when I open / my eyes / and close them, / when my steps go, / when my steps return, / deny me bread, air,  light, spring, / but never your laughter / for I would die.

 

Simon could probably count on his hands how many times he has heard Raphael laugh. He wasn’t expecting tonight to be one of them. It had started off well. He set up the whole roof of the hotel; it was covered in twinkling lights and burning candles with a table set for two in the middle. They had dinner and dessert that he had made (with help from Lily and Stan) and Raphael even agreed to lie on the air mattress he brought outside to stargaze on (more like staring at the moon with all the light pollution, but it’s the thought that counts.) And, most importantly, he had finally worked up the courage to tell Raphael that he loved him.

 

Now, as he stares at Raphael’s shaking form, he wonders if he made the right decision.

 

“Look, I know you might not feel the same. We never really specified what we were doing - if us was a thing - but I just- I just had to tell you, because if I kept it in me anymore I feel like I would’ve exploded. That’s how much I love you, Raph. And you don’t have to feel the same, but for you to sit here and laugh at me-”

 

He’s silenced with a harsh press of lips. They’re gone before he can respond.

 

Raphael smiles at him, softly, holding the side of Simon’s face in his palm. “Mi sol, I love you too.”

 

Simon sputters. “Why were you laughing then?”

 

Raphael cracks up again. “Simon, did you not hear yourself when you said it?”

 

Simon stares at him quizzically. Of course he heard it.

 

“You said, and I quote, ‘I love you like Leia loves Han, but - um - the gay version of that.”

 

Simon cracks a smile and eventually bursts into laughter alongside Raphael. “I guess I see your point.”

 

“Also,” Raphael adds with a smirk. “I’m totally the Leia of this relationship.”

 

Simon is about to protest but gets caught up in the way Raphael’s eyes sparkle in the moon's illumination. Instead, he giggles with Raphael, realizing that a life spent hearing Raphael’s deep chuckle is a life not wasted.