They both laid upon their backs, hands resting on their stomachs. They weren’t trying to fall asleep, it was just so comfortable on the floor of Funn Funerals. Something they easily agreed upon. It was warm. It was quiet. It felt like home. Eric would have thought he was dreaming, if not for the clarity with which he’d constructed his next words.
“You don’t have to say anything,” he murmured at the exact volume he knew Rudyard could hear and understand.
Eric didn’t laugh, but he wanted to. In an effort to preserve the muted atmosphere, he settled for a smile.
“That wasn’t the end of the sentence.”
“Oh. Continue, then.”
“I was just going to say,” he turned his head slightly so he could look at Rudyard as he spoke; Rudyard noticed and did the same, “I love you.”
Rudyard’s face didn’t change an inch. Maybe a centimeter or two, but nothing more. He held Eric’s eyes for an instant, then turned his head back to the ceiling. Eric was reasonably sure he was blushing.
“So,” Eric continued, “do you have anything to say?”
“I thought I didn’t have to say anything!”
“I only said that because I figured you’d say something anyway.”
Rudyard huffed, and Eric was now certain he was blushing. He imagined he could feel the heat radiating off him, though it was possible he was just feeling his own blush.
After a moment, Rudyard finally said, “Thank you. I appreciate it.”
The muted room allowed a small vacuum, permitting Eric to laugh.
“God,” he answered. “I really do love you. So much.”
“Just because you’ve said it now doesn’t mean you can overuse it.”
“Yes it does. A dam has opened, Rudyard, but you know what?”
“I love you.”
Rudyard groaned deep in his throat.
“I should’ve seen that coming.”
“Maybe. But I love that you didn’t.”
“You’re not original, you know.”
The floor was getting to them. The sounds of work coming from the mortuary and Madeleine’s makeshift office acting as ambient noise didn’t help the matter. Antigone shouted a curse, and Eric had never felt more at peace. Absentmindedly, Rudyard turned to his side, again facing Eric, and tucked his head into the crook of Eric’s neck. This was a frequent position for them, and sleep was sure to follow.
Then Rudyard mumbled something into Eric’s skin, warm and vibrating.
“I’m sorry, what?” he asked.
A little louder, a little clearer, Rudyard repeated himself.
“I love you too.”
Eric smiled and pulled Rudyard closer with an arm wrapped around his torso. They breathed.