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21 Days

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Twenty one days.

Nine hours.

Forty-five minutes.

Six seconds.

That's how long you've been gone.

I know, because I've been counting, staring at the clock hanging on the wall. Watching as the hands slowly move, taunting me.

I cried when I got the call, threw myself on the floor in tears. It hadn't been the first time I'd went through this, we thought you'd died many times but this time it was real, this time it wasn't just a scare they couldn't bring you back.

So I'm lying here now, frail limbs twisted up in white sheets that still smell terribly strong of your skin, and I'm hit with the realization that this is all I have. An apartment that suddenly feels too big, and a bedroom that is all but closing in on me. A phone that doesn't ring. A bed that I never make.

I don't sleep much anymore.

I twist around beneath the sheets. The silence is all together haunting. I would put on some music, but every song would remind me of you.

Perhaps I'll never be entirely free of you. There's a part of me that really doesn't want to be. A part of me needs this. Needs these lies I tell myself in the middle of the night when everything feels so cold without you.

A part of me needs to squeeze my eyes shut and ball the fabric tight in my fists, drown whatever is left of me in your sweet scent and the sometimes overwhelming memory of your fingers in my hair.

I always loved your hands. Guitar players hands. Strong and noble -- and just a little rough -- like the rest of you.

And I reach my own forward, slowly clawing my way to your side of the mattress. Vacant now, but I can almost can feel you there. The cotton sheets are still warm with you, and I slide my fingers along the fabric, painfully aware of every ripple and fold beneath my fingers. You used to lie here, smelling like rain and pot. And I'd crawl in beside you, reeking of stale cigarettes, sweat and cheap beer.

My fingers graze the pillow case. I close my eyes.

And you're here again.

Your head is pressed back into the pillow, and I gather myself up against your side, sweep the blonde strands of hair from your forehead. I trace your features with my finger tips, and when I reach your mouth, you seize my wrist in your hand and pull it away.

"Don't tease me, Dave," you whisper, your lips curling into a playful grin, your blue eyes now heavy-lidded as you lightly press your kiss to my palm, and then suck my fingertips into your mouth, tongue gently gliding along the length of them. You raise your other hand, ghosting your fingers down the inside of my arm, gently dipping into the curve of my elbow. My eyes flutter closed and all I can do is moan, promise you I won't do it again.

I lean over, placing one palm against the mattress to brace my weight, and duck my head down to kiss your lips. You turn your head away, laughing infectiously as my lips brush your stubbly cheek and settle right beside your ear.

"Kiss me, Kurt," I growl, because this is what you always do, and this is how you like it done. And though sometimes I wish you didn't play this little game, it always ends up lending to the thrill, to feel like I've caught you. To feel you give in to me.

"Mmm, not tonight," you protest breathlessly, and though you won't look me in the eye, you're practically grinning.

I'm on top of you in one swift movement, legs pressed to either side of your thin frame, your wrists captured in my grip somewhere above your head. Your eyes dart up to mine, wide and burning with the same flame that is crawling into my neck and cheeks as my pulse pumps anxiously in my throat.

"Yes, tonight," I decide, and devour your lips, enjoying the slight struggle you put up at first.

Enjoying it even more when you surrender, when you open your mouth against mine and roll your tongue between my lips. Until I'm gasping, desperate for air, but all I can get is your breath, your teeth, your tongue. And I'm dizzy, and you're moaning almost silently into my mouth, telling me I'm beautiful.

My lips are lost against the pale expanse of your chest, tongue dipping with every prominent hollow of your rib cage, feeling every slight shiver, every gentle escape of air from your lungs. My hands are slipping down your arms and blindly scrambling for some kind of leverage. Your fingers tunnel through my hair, scratch lightly against my scalp as your body arches up to meet my lips, my tongue, and you gasp, urging me lower, asking me for what we both know is coming.

And you're barely breathing, angular hips twitching beneath me, your body trembling as your fingers and toes curl into the cotton sheets. You cry out as I take you in my mouth, your breath hitches. Your hand, searching blindly in the dark for mine... I reach up, tangle my fingers with yours... listen as you whimper and urge me on, lips barely able to form words.

And it's entirely beautiful, this rhythm we're creating, underscored by your soft breathing and moans of approval, and kept in time by the patterning of the rain on the window. And the lightning explodes through the glass, catching us, if only for an instant. Capturing the gleam of the sweat on our skin, highlighting the tangle of limbs and angles, your pale, clean flesh broken only by the mess of scattered ink that covers my arms.

I bury my face in your thighs and get lost in the devastating heat, barely notice when your fingernails claw into my hand, you buck your skinny hips, and gasp so sharp it can only mean you're letting go. And you tell me you love me, voice hoarse and caught somewhere in your throat as I climb up over your slick, trembling frame. Your hands have found my back, and they trace the curve of my spine as I dip down to kiss you.

You wrap your arms around me, fingers gently clawing my shoulder blades, press your forehead to mine and discover your breath.

"I love you so much, Dave."

My eyes flutter open, and I'm alone.

The room is darker than I remember, and the silence now unforgiving. The cool night air from the window taunts my skin, because without your arms, I'll never feel quite as warm.

I swallow -- taste you on my tongue, and the sheets, they smell like us. I spread my hands out, palm curving desperately against the mattress where you used to lie. Not so long ago. Only twenty one days.

My lungs are suddenly heavy with regret. Every breath I take seems a heartbeat closer to exploding.

I grip the sheets tight, ball them in my fists. This is not much. But it's all I have.

And there's a part of me that needs this.