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What Happened After Pioneer Day

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Cecil took a step inside his home. He realised he should probably stop showing up at the radio station, it was just making him feel worse after all is said and done. The house was quiet, Carlos was probably working on something. That was fine. Cecil could handle being by himself for another few minutes. He sat down in the living room and reached for the TV remote before remembering what he had been “reporting” today.

It was quiet, the ambience of the small desert community outside was the only thing present to remind Cecil that there was indeed a world outside and that he was a real person within it. The sound booth had no such ambience and part of Cecil worried that his job actually gave him more existential anxiety. Cecil would then push that issue away and act like everything was fine because he didn’t want to question the effect that his job had on his mental health and come to the conclusion that it was better to quit. Then again, it looked like he might actually have to quit if the station doesn’t start broadcasting again. Cecil was fine, he was ok going in to broadcast the news to himself. It was like he said, habits are comforting. Ritual is important.

It wasn't long before Cecil's mind started wandering. When left to his own devices with nothing to do, Cecil's thoughts would usually take dark turns. He would think about his existence within the world he supposedly lived in and whether or not he or the world itself was just the stray thoughts of a mad man, he would think about the people in his life and what they thought of him, he thought of his possible death and how it would happen, he thought about all he's done wrong or all the things he could've tried preventing. It was a depressingly messy train-of-thought, usually covered in gore or whatever the real-life depiction of existential dread looked like. This was why he delved so deeply into his work before meeting Carlos, he needed to be distracted or else he'd be left with his own head and all the terrible things within it. At least if he had a job to do or a husband to talk to and spend time with, he distracts himself from his thoughts.

His mind wasn't a kind friend and it often conspired against him.

He was dragged away from his thoughts when the couch dipped beside him and he felt two arms pull him into the side of a man he so dearly loved and that his brain unhelpfully tried to convince him had abandoned him for a year in the pursuit of science. Glancing up at his face, Carlos seemed concerned which wasn't much of a surprise. Cecil himself hadn't told him but he did learn that someone in the town told Carlos that leaving Cecil to his own devices without any distraction was a bad idea. Cecil leaned into Carlos, letting his head rest on the scientist's shoulder.

"I didn't realise you'd gotten back from the station,"

"I didn't see you when I got in. I figured you were working and didn't wanna bother you,"

Silence

"You're really not taking this whole thing well, are you?"

Cecil shook his head.

Carlos sighed before planting a kiss on Cecil's forehead, then both of his cheek and then his lips. Cecil returned the favour by smiling a little and snuggling into Carlos's side again. He focused on how warm and soft Carlos was, how much he knew Carlos loved him and how Carlos was now brushing his hand through Cecil's silver hair. He was fine, he was with Carlos and he was going to be ok because Carlos would always be there for him. As he closed his tired eyes, Cecil could feel Carlos kiss his forehead again before saying something that stuck with him as he slept. It was a phrase he heard all too many times but it never felt any less special.

"I love you,"

With that, Cecil settled into a peaceful sleep.