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   It was a long party after a way too exciting opera and everyone involved had to be dog tired, sure, but Cecil couldn't help it. His excitement about staying in Night Vale, his relief to have Carlos truly back, his eagerness to be fully alone with Carlos with no science in the way...

   Who could really blame him for pressing his boyfriend against the door with a hot, exhausted, passionate kiss?

   Kisses were usually more elegant than this, for this one had a little too much teeth, more gasps for breath, mouth fulls of unruly facial hair that needed tending to, just too sloppy in both lips and tongues. It didn't matter. It was with Carlos. It was perfect.

   Tentacles tried pulling pants off but they just lacked the finesse and dexterity of human and humanoid hands in this euphoria. Cecil's eyes were bright lustful pools of dark maroon, which Carlos only made out between Cecil’s flutters and glances at his perfection.

   Carlos couldn't help but feel that pang of guilt resurge, even stronger than the one he felt while writing that letter to Kevin. He really did screw up his entire last... well, portion of his life. He had been so obsessed with science and helping Kevin he ended up neglecting the most important person in his life, the person who had made his life worth living, the person who renewed the meaning of science and what it means to be alive... Carlos didn't deserve this man. This man who waited for him. This man who waited for him an entire year. This man who had been willing to leave everything behind for him...

   Cecil opened his eyes and noticed the tears streaming down Carlos’s cheeks, disappearing into the choppy mass of hair that had taken over the bottom of his face. Cecil's eyes returned to their normal amethyst. “What's wrong? Did I do something wrong? Are you ok? Hurt?”

   “I-I’m fine,” Carlos choked out before going silent, looking away.

   Cecil released him, drawing his tendrils back into himself, thinking Carlos needed his personal space.

   Carlos relaxed, but only a little. Enough to continue talking. “It's just... I am so sorry. I screwed up, I'm sorry. You deserve so - so much better. I'm sorry,” Carlos babbled, unable to hold back the flow of emotions.

   “Carlos, Carlos,” Cecil whispered, hesitantly placing a hand on his shoulder, “whatever for?”

   “The moment I realized the Dog Park was the way out I should have left and come straight back. I should have prioritized coming back to you, I should have-”

   “Shhh,” Cecil shushed, getting a little closer since his touch wasn't ill received, “Carlos, my Carlos, beautiful perfect Car-”

   “I'm not perfect! I'm an ass! A science obsessed dick!”

   Cecil hesitated, tempted to agree with the last statement in all the wrong ways, but held back. “You're not an ass. You're passionate, and it is peeerfect,” Cecil insisted, delivering a soft kiss to Carlos’s forehead, despite having to get up on his tippy toes to do so, in order to not end up pressing his full body against the agitated man. “The way you forget to shut your mouth all the way when you're eating while you pour over notes you just don't understand yet. The way the world around you vanishes while you stare into a microscope, or when you're looking at colorful lights, or when you're looking into one of our town's many going ons. That tone in your voice when you talk science.” Cecil paused before adding in a low purr, “That tone in your voice when you talk science to me .” He gave Carlos’s neck a small stroke, making sure it wasn't too light to make his skin crawl but still be suggestive.

   “Ceec,” Carlos gasped, a little overwhelmed. All of that felt like a lifetime ago. “I want... I don't want to be just Carlos the Scie-”

   “‘The’ is capitalized,” Cecil interjected. “It's like a middle name.”

   “Fine, Carlos The Scientist. I want to be Carlos The Perfect Boyfriend To The Greatest Radio Host This World Has Ever Seen.”

   “You're both,” Cecil stated, carefully directing Carlos's gaze with a hand to his quite fuzzy chin, so that the owner of that perfect jawline could see the sincerity in all three of Cecil’s eyes.

   Carlos looked away. Cecil let him. “I'm Carlos The Scientist first, and that ruins-”

   “Perfects,” Cecil corrected, stroking an ear. Carlos’s eyes fluttered for a moment, having nearly forgotten just how right Cecil knew how to do that. “That perfects you. I didn't fall in love with the perfect boyfriend, I only fell deeper in love with him. I fell in love with you, Carlos The Scientist with that perfect hair.” Cecil pulled him in to nuzzle his beard, even in this situation his mind couldn't forget the fact that he didn't have long before Carlos got rid of it. “Please, don't throw that away-for me, for anybody. This world will weep when it loses the greatest scientist that ever lived.”

   “I'm not the greatest,” Carlos muttered, blushing a brilliant dark blush that Cecil could almost feel.

   “Yeah, you are. I don't think even Einstein would have been stubborn enough to stay here and continue his work.”

   “Stop it,” Carlos mumbled, though he was smiling from the praise. “Most of my scientists stayed as well from what I remember.”

   “Yes, but how many have given their body to tentacle monsters for experiments,” Cecil hummed, letting his hug relax so that he could place a hand on Carlos’s chest.

   “Those weren't experiments, Cecil.”

   “Mmm, keep telling yourself that.”

   “Ceec,” Carlos went to insist, but was interrupted by a yawn. Today had been a long day.

   “Let's go to bed,” Cecil suggested softly.

   “... Alright,” Carlos surrendered, kissing the top of Cecil's head.

   Cecil held Carlos close once they had gotten under the covers. Carlos, the infuriating sleeper he was, was out as soon as his head hit the pillow.

   Cecil could smell the foreign desert sands that permeated every bit of Carlos's clothing, and a bit of his current being. Cecil could smell traces of blood. Most of all, he could smell Carlos. The lavender gum that he was able to get his hands on when he had returned. The very slight tinge of acid and chemicals from always working at the lab, despite his ‘safe’ practices. The hair products he usually used were gone from being without them for a year (as Cecil saw it,) but Cecil could smell the familiar smell of mechanical smoke. Carlos always needed a little more comforting when he smelled of mechanical smoke, so Cecil couldn't help but love that smell. He'd bottle it up and cover Carlos in it if he didn't know it would only spoil the smell. And then there was that smell that was just him , a smell that could only be described as ‘Perfect Car-los.’ (Naturally, the name ‘Carlos’ had to be held out a little in order to describe it so accurately.)

   Every tentacle reminisced in having their sleeping partner back, wrapping around Carlos to their full extent. Even the little neck tendrils that usually kept to Cecil throughout the night were wrapped around Carlos’s neck (and buried in the hair that would soon be lost,) sucking little dots in the shape of an interesting necklace around said neck. Maybe Cecil hadn't gotten what he wanted when he walked inside, but he was getting what he needed most, a good night's sleep with the best teddy bear in the entire universe, right on their bed.

 

. . .

 

   Carlos yawned, feeling absolutely rejuvenated, the best sleep he had received in what felt like years. He glanced at the window, wondering if he really slept in that much or if the sun was just early today. Night Vale was like that. He didn't really have any way to keep track of time in the Otherworld (even less so than here,) his phone even showing just archaic symbols and blotches instead of numbers and :s. He tried to move, but little suckers clinged fast to his body, the tentacles he had missed sleeping with so much only too eager to never let him go again, to keep him trapped in their cocoon forever.

   He tried to glance over at the radio host behind him, but could only catch a small glimpse of his hair. Surely enough, he was still sleeping. Carlos rolled his eyes. Despite the fact he was the deep sleeper, he was still also the early riser it seemed.

   Getting out of bed had always been nerve wracking way back when they first started sleeping together, trying not to wake the one behind him. To get out of Cecil's tentacles was usually hard. He could still remember the first time he successfully did so. He ended up shutting the door too loudly, despite having shut it more quietly than normal, and still woke Cecil. Cecil without having his morning coffee tended to be a bit grumpy (though he had did his best to hide that side of him during the phone calls over Carlos’s time in the desert.) It didn't help that Cecil was also comedically groggy in the mornings and didn't react well to early morning laughter directed at said grogginess.

   Carlos tried to move again, but the suckers still clung fast to his clothes and skin, and the two smallest tentacles were happily rested in his beard. He could reach one tentacle and tried to stroke it, remembering that he could sometimes get the tentacles to... well, swoon was the best way to describe it, when he touched them just right. Having not done it for so long, it took a while to get the tentacle to swoon, but it did free up his other hand a little.

   Carlos struggled, trying to reach another tentacle, when all the tentacles gave a small squeeze.

   Cecil buried his head into Carlos’s back and mumbled, “Carlos... Is it really you?”

   “Yeah,” Carlos answered in a barely audible whisper, not sure if Cecil was awake or dreaming.

   A pulling and popping sensation came up from around his neck, his beard shifting in a way that made his chin tingle with sensations Carlos preferred not to feel.

   Carlos glanced back, suddenly having some more mobility, just to see Cecil pull his head away and the neck tentacles rub his eyes. He blinked and looked straight at Carlos and his face lit up in a way Carlos had never seen him light up in the morning before.

   Cecil hugged him tightly. “It wasn't a dream,” he gasped. “You're really here, you're really back!”

   Carlos risked a chuckle. This morning the sight of himself appeared to be worth a triple shot espresso injected straight into the bloodstream.

   “My Carlos! My wonderful, perfect Carlos!” Cecil’s suckers let go but his tentacles and arms only tightened around said perfect Carlos. “I thought you'd be gone. I thought I'd wake up and find you hadn't come home, I thought-”

   “I'm back,” Carlos reassured him. “I'm back.”