And if you don’t love me now,
You will never love me again.
- The Chain, Fleetwood Mac
The sheets rustled softly beneath him as he moved to roll off the bed, moonbeams spilling from the bare windows bathing the room in a soft glow. Sitting at the edge of the bed, he peered out at the dark horizon, dotted lights from neighbouring skyscrapers twinkling in the distance. Below, in the distance, the waters of the Hudson River rippled lazily under the moonlight. He stretched, his silhouette moving long and languid against the walls, mimicking the sated hum of his body.
In the light-blue glow of the room, he padded towards the bathroom, the threadbare rug coarse under his feet. He smiled at the feel of them; the well-worn rug seemed so out of place amidst the rather minimalist decor of the rest of the room. It was what made the room endearing-
Endearingly Sebastian’s, he thought, as he turned towards the sleeping figure on the bed; a lanky body stretched on the mattress lying on his stomach. The sheets pooled haphazardly at the hips barely covering the swell of toned ass cheeks, skin creamy-smooth where the soft light kissed it. Mousy-brown hair arranged messily against the pillow that hid half of the sleeping man’s handsome face.
There was a hitch in his breath, the same one he would get every time he looked at Sebastian like this; soft with sleep, at peace and all his- at least for the night.
An ache bloomed from deep within. He forced himself to turn away, stepping decisively into the bathroom as the door nestled softly in the frame with a quiet click.
He hadn’t bothered turning on the bathroom lights, his eyes already well adjusted to the semi-dark. The stained-glass transom windows set high above the bathtub let in enough moonlight to see. Lifting the toilet seat, he worked to empty his groaning bladder, all the while fighting with his mind to not think about the conversation he and Sebastian had had earlier- before they had fell into what they knew, what was familiar, both unwilling to face their realities, opting to escape in each other instead.
He washed his hands at the fancy pedestal sink, the enamelled surface gleaming pink-blue-yellow from the light sifting through the stained-glass as he caught sight of his shadowed reflection in the mirror. Turning off the faucet, he dabbed his wet hands on his face, breathing slow before returning his gaze to regard his face. Despite the messy thoughts in his head, he could see the glint in his eyes;
He was happy. Happier than he ever knew he could be.
But you could be happier, a traitorous voice whispered in his mind.
The deep-seated ache returned in his chest. Yes, he thought. There was always a chance he would be happier- with his soulmate.
And Sebastian wasn’t his soulmate.
In the dark, he rubbed the skin on the inside of his left forearm just below the crevice of his armpits. The skin was smooth there, no trace that it was marked with a name- the name of his soulmate. But he could feel it there- in his bones, in every move- could feel the curves and the curlicues he knew by heart.
Growing up, he had always regarded soulmarks as romantic. To have someone out there suited just for him- just the way his parents were, their names imprinted on each other’s skin- to love and be loved by; he loved every bit of the idea of soulmarks.
The moment the clock had struck midnight on his 21st birthday, a brief searing pain had blazed the skin along the inside of his forearm. The writing was dark on his olive skin, the edges flushed red and raw but he had grinned like an idiot, a happiness blooming in his chest; his soulmark had appeared.
A clock chimed somewhere in the apartment, tolling the late hours of the night and coaxing him out of his thoughts. He blinked at the semi-darkness of the bathroom, his thumb still rubbing his soulmark. He often wondered why the Universe deemed to cast a soulmark there on that spot- but whatever the scientific explanation, he liked to romanticize that it was because- when you’re at ease and your arms are loose at your sides, the soulmark would nestle close to the heart.
And that was where soulmates belonged; close to the heart. Needless to say, he had a certain romantic notion of soulmarks.
But as he padded back out into the bedroom, his heart fluttered at the sight of Sebastian- sitting up in bed, his back against the headboard, his body relaxed- looking at him with those soft, sleepy eyes. Not for the first time, he wondered how someone who wasn’t his soulmate could make him feel like this-
Like he was so irrevocably in love.
But he wasn’t, he couldn’t be.
His fingers instinctively shot up to trace his soulmark.
“Hey,” Sebastian called, his voice soft with sleep as the rest of him.
“Leaving?” Sebastian asked, tone cautious.
The familiar ache panged in his chest. He and Sebastian had been falling into each other’s arms and into bed for the better part of the last six months- and yet- he never stayed the night.
As he strode lazily to Sebastian’s side of the bed, he made the decision not to leave- not just yet. When it came to Sebastian, he was always selfish like that.
“We have time,” he simply said.
We have time.
Even if he merely meant they still had a few hours before he needed to leave- to go home and catch a couple of hours of sleep before he needed to get ready for work- he had consciously chosen those particular words, packed with an underlying meaning.
We have time.
He said it as a comfort, a lie he needed to tell himself that whatever they had, whatever they were doing didn’t have an expiration period.
But it did; and it was looming closer, now more than ever.
He briefly closed his eyes, letting their earlier conversation reel through his mind.
“I met him,” Sebastian had said, stepping out of their heated kiss, one they had shared the moment they walked in the front door.
Feeling slightly dazed from the abrupt loss of Sebastian’s lips, he had distractedly asked, “Who?” before trying to chase another kiss.
Sebastian had chuckled but held him back by his shoulders, far enough apart that he could look up into those impossibly green eyes. And then, it had dawned on him.
I met him.
Him; Sebastian’s soulmate.
“Oh,” he had breathed and moved out of Sebastian’s reach. “What’s- what’s he like?”
At this, Sebastian had quirked a brow before stepping closer to him. “Exactly what I expected.”
And he knew exactly what Sebastian had expected; old family, old money, old ways.
In the olden days, soulmarks were revered by upper-class societies, considering themselves important in the eyes of the Universe to be bestowed something as significant as a soulmate. It was tradition- the old way- for the match made by the unseen Providence to be honoured in order to maintain or advance social standings and favours by those from old money, old family.
And Sebastian came from one such family; he was a Smythe, one of the oldest families from Virginia who have since settled in Manhattan.
“Do you like him?”
The words had spilled before he could really form a thought, his stomach churning, not wanting to know the answer.
“His name is etched on my skin,” Sebastian answered, chancing another step closer- until their chests were pressed flush once more.
Despite his pounding heart, he had stubbornly held Sebastian’s gaze as he stubbornly said, “Not what I asked.”
Sebastian had lifted his hand to cup his face, eyes dark and serious. A shiver ran down his spine when Sebastian grazed his bottom lip with his thumb.
“He’s not you,” Sebastian simply said before crashing their lips together and striking his breath from his lungs; Sebastian’s kisses always left him breathless.
It was what they have come to know, what was familiar; mouth hot and wet on each other, skin blazing on skin with each touch.
Sebastian had deftly plucked the buttons of his shirt, making quick work on the fly of his jeans. He was already hard and straining against the fabric when Sebastian pulled the garment down and sank down to his knees, licking a stripe up his length before taking him into his mouth.
He had groaned, loud and desperate, lost in his pleasure at the hands of Sebastian. He had fought from letting his eyes flutter closed, wanting- needing to take in the sight of Sebastian’s lips around him. Before long, he had climaxed, Sebastian’s name spilling from his lips over and over, all thoughts of Sebastian having finally met his soulmate drowned by the blissful high of his release; he could stay in that high- and in Sebastian’s arms- forever.
“Blaine,” Sebastian called from the bed, pulling him out of his reverie.
His gaze found Sebastian’s easily in the blue glow of the room, in this private space they called their own- even if it was temporary. And in that moment, he wanted nothing more than to let himself fall- really fall- in love with this man.
But he knew better. He could never-
They only had a semblance of a relationship but nothing firmly rooted, the foundations of what they had, what they were would collapse at the slightest gust of wind. Six months and all of it were behind closed doors, kept firmly under wraps from Sebastian’s family.
The Smythes would never approve, he reminded himself. But even then it sounded like a lie- or half a truth.
Pulling the sheets off of Sebastian, he let his eyes roam hungrily at the naked body upon the bed; the specks of freckles on his skin, the curves and dips of toned muscles, the dusting of light brown hair on his chest and a trail down his stomach to his groin.
Then, Sebastian lifted his left arm and tucked it behind his head, his posture relaxed- but there was a challenge in the way he smirked up at him.
Touch me, Sebastian silently begged.
And it was then his eyes fell upon that patch of skin, the soulmark legible even in the semi-darkness. Or was it because- like his own- he knew it by heart, just like he knew the rest of Sebastian?
Slowly, he moved to climb unto the bed, gingerly straddling Sebastian. A soft gasp left Sebastian’s lips but made no attempts to move. Steady fingers reached out to trace the soulmark, the touch burning an ache deep within.
Things would be much simpler if Sebastian’s soulmark had bore his name; a bold B. Anderson on the other man’s pale skin. Then maybe- just maybe- he would believe this was the happiest he could ever be. No second guesses, no what ifs.
As much as he wanted to release all inhibitions and fall for Sebastian, deep in the recesses of his heart he would always wonder about his own soulmate. When would they meet? What would he be like? Will not waiting for him be a mistake despite how he felt for Sebastian?
And there was always the Smythes and their soulmark-revering old ways.
Ignoring the seemingly ever present ache in his chest, in his heart, he moved a hand to cover Sebastian’s hardening length, giving him one, two, three lazy strokes. Butterflies flit in his belly at the touch, new yet familiar each time and his heart fluttered at the way Sebastian was looking up him- like he was everything. And he was sure that was the expression his face took on when he looked at Sebastian.
Trembling with arousal, he raised his hips to sink down on Sebastian, both groaning at the sensation, the profound pleasure that burned through them. Sebastian moved to grab his hips, fingers digging hard into his flesh as they moved in synchrony- slowly at first, letting himself adjust at being stretched by Sebastian- before frantically meeting his thrusts up with fervent downstrokes.
Looking down at the man beneath him, he regarded Sebastian’s skin shimmering with a sheen of sweat, mouth opened and panting with pleasure- and those eyes, he always got lost in those eyes. Sebastian was beautiful- always, just like this.
The familiar heat of release crept up from his toes and up his legs, settling in every crevice of his body. Sebastian curled a hand around him while the other still gripped his hips tightly, stroking him in time. They chased their highs together and before long Sebastian cried out his name, coming deep inside of him. He followed soon after.
Breathing hard, he dropped forward to claim Sebastian’s lips, soft and lazy and perfect.
There was a chime from the clock again. Another hour up. Another second closer to the end of what he and Sebastian had built on unsteady foundations.
That was the hard truth; Sebastian had his duty to his family and he had one foot out the door that was eager to take him to where his soulmate was. Their circumstances might differ but they were both bound- in every sense of the word- to their soulmarks.
But as Sebastian laid on his side mirroring his position, their chest pressed together and their nose brushing with every inhale-exhale of their breaths, he took comfort that it wouldn’t all come crashing down- not just yet, not tonight.
They still had tonight.