When Derek arrived in Chicago, it seemed the sunshine came with him.
It rained all week, an absolute downpour that soaked the city in monochrome shades of grey. Matt stayed inside, watching from his bedroom window as the water rushed down the sidewalk and into the gutter, the weather bathing his apartment in a sort of melancholic coldness. He sat on his bed with his mug of tea, legs crossed, staring out at the people in the streets with umbrellas raised above their heads, running from building to building and kicking up puddles with their rain boots.
Monday through Saturday, it continued in this fashion, until Sunday morning it suddenly stopped. The sun came out and drove away the dark clouds, and the apartment was filled with a warm, golden glow that hadn’t come around for what seemed like a lifetime.
Not an hour after Matt awoke and admired the sudden change of weather, he got a call on his cellphone.
“Matt, it’s Derek.”
“I know... what’s up?”
There was a knock on the front door.
“Shit. Hang on a second, I gotta get this.”
Matt slipped on his pants and rushed to answer the door.
The smile that greeted him made him drop his phone.
“What the hell, man? I thought you weren’t coming until Wednesday!”
Derek let out an exasperated laugh as Matt pulled him into a crushing hug.
“I just wanted to see you,” Derek said, leaning against the doorframe. He had changed since the last time Matt had seen him, as far as his appearance was concerned. He seemed to have lost a bit of weight, and his head was shaved so only a slight amount of brown stubble could be seen. But his eyes were still their brilliant shade of blue, and his smile was still as bright as the sun outside his window.
“It’s been a while.”
Matt took his jacket, and gave him another hug.
They never took the time to put a name to their dynamic. It just came naturally that, when separated, they’d miss each other with such a passion that their hearts burned, and sooner or later they would be drawn together like magnets until one showed up on the other’s doorstep. Not quite friends, and not quite friends with benefits, because there was a deeper emotion there that lust didn’t describe, and, sometimes, they would spend the entirety of their time together tangled up in bed, on a couch, on the floor just laughing and talking and kissing. They appeared to be somewhat of a dichotomy between lovers and something beyond.
It was never discussed, and yet mutually understood, that they refused to call whatever was between them “love.” They loved each other deeply, possibly beyond the extent of most romantic relationships, but neither of them would say it, and they had always preferred it that way. The only thing that mattered was that they felt at home in the other’s arms, and waking up next to each other was, in a sense, euphoric.
And yet, early on Friday morning, when they were lying together in Matt’s bed with only the sheets around them, Derek dared to cross the line and mumbled three words against the delicate skin of Matt’s neck.
Matt’s heart jumped into his throat, but he couldn’t help the timid smile that crossed his face. Derek rested his head on his shoulder, peering up at him through his eyelashes, the sun through the window bathing him in a near heavenly glow. He giggled, embarrassed, and shook his head.
“Don’t say it back, okay?”
But Matt said it anyway.
They both said it a million more times as they clung together, smiles ever present, and left kisses in the most intimate of places.
Saturday morning, Derek left. Matt held him for as long as he was able to, and then he opened his arms and let him go. It wasn’t the last time, he reminded himself, but one of many. He watched Derek’s taxi drive away, waving to him until he disappeared from sight.
It really did seem like the sunshine was following him, as the second Derek was out of Chicago, the rain came back, slamming against Matt’s bedroom window.
An absolute downpour.