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Of storms and smiles.

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Eric couldn't quite remember why he'd headed over to Funn funerals in the first place. For one thing the weather was bloody awful, and it was starting to get dark, it was something to do with another of Rudyard's schemes or he had wanted to see Georgie ... yes he'll try to convince himself of that.

The door to Funn funerals was unlocked and Eric found himself less concerned than he should have been - at least it had saved him from picking the lock knocking.

"Hello, anyone home?" He was asking more as a formality than anything, Antigone was rarely out the house and well Rudyard wasn't really wanted anywhere else.

A creek on the stairs was his answer, he turned and was met by Rudyard's usual scowl. Before he could say anything thunder rumbled in the distance and Rudyard paled as a soft squeak escaped him. Eric wasn't much better his hands clutched his chest as his heart rate rocketed.

"Chapman what the devil are you doing here?"

instinctually Eric asks, "Is Georgie in?"

"No." comes Rudyard’s short reply

"Ah."

They stared at each other for a few tense seconds

"Antigone?"

"No."

"Really?"

"Yes, I'm as surprised as you are, she went with Georgie."

"Where did they go?"

Eric really didn't know why he was trying so hard to drag this conversation out perhaps it was to distract both himself and Rudyard from the steadily brewing thunder or perhaps it was because Rudyard drew nearer with every word.

"I don't know I wasn’t listening when they told me."

"And why didn't you go with them?"

"I think the answer to that is obvious Chapman."

Eric shrugged and muttered an “I suppose it is.”

Rudyard made no effort to continue the conversation, however Eric was a resolute man and made no move to leave.

Despite the fact that Eric had most definitely closed the door behind him when he first entered the Funn premises a chill ran through the air, Eric being in the midst of grasping for ways to keep the conversation going decided to say

“Oft it’s chilly in here, that’s some storm.”

And hoped to God Rudyard would answer.

“It’s always chilly in here Chapman, we don’t have heating.”

“Ah …”

Rudyard seemed to have resigned himself to this mostly one-sided conversation and moved as close to Eric as he could stomach – which was still a few feet away.

“The storm is rather loud though isn’t it.” Rudyard attempted to mutter under his breath, but Eric had excellent hearing which he’d developed … a long time ago.

“Scared?” he asked, and Rudyard shook his head indignantly.

Just then another crash of thunder sounded overhead, and Rudyard yelped as the very foundations of Funn funerals shook or maybe it was he who was shaking. 

"You're eh holding me a bit tight there Rudyard." Eric voice sounded a lot closer than it had before.

"Am I?" Rudyard took note of his arms wrapped around Chapmans strong frame, his hands clenched in the fabric of his shirt, and his face buried in Chapmans chest, and realized that in his panic he had grabbed the thing closest to him and that thing was Chapman "Oh right you are." He muttered pulling away and letting a respectable distance come between them.

"Fear you understand - " Rudyard shrugged "- makes us do things we normally wouldn't."

"I thought you said you weren't scared?" Eric raised a stupidly perfect eyebrow and with it Rudyard’s pulse. Anger flooded through him and Rudyard welcomed the familiar sensation, taking great joy in glaring at Chapman.

"Yes, well only an idiot would have believed me!" He snapped taking a step towards Eric with his head held high – which it had to be if he wanted to keep staring into the annoyingly tall man’s eyes.

"I didn't believe you," Eric shrugged with a good-natured smile that infuriated Rudyard to no end.

"Yes well ... I didn't believe me eith-"

CRASH

"CHRIST ALIVE!"  

And the next thing Rudyard knew he was being pulled back against Chapmans warm chest and had two strong arms wrapped around him. All in all, he was both incredibly destressed and slightly comforted although he’d never admit it. He’d probably had more physical contact in the past ten minutes with Chapman than the last thirty years of his life.

Sure, Antigone would sometimes brush by him when he passed or slap him on the back of the head when he fell asleep somewhere stupid but that was the extent of the family affection.

The two undertakers stood in the middle of Funn funerals in a close embrace, a second passed and then another. The rain grew louder, and Eric’s grip grew tighter one hand on the small of Rudyard’s back and the other at the back of his neck tangled in his unruly hair.

Eric shivered as Rudyard huffed out a sigh that heated his neck and blood. “… Is this alright?” He felt Rudyard shift in his arms to look up at him “Me holding you?” He decided to clarify.

Rudyard was silent, and Eric took a moment to gaze out of the window. He could faintly make out the soft orange glow of distant street lamps and could see the light he’d left on back at his place. He could be there right now, wrapped in a warm blanket drinking tea and reading pride and prejudice but then again, he’d be alone … and so would Rudyard, stuck here in the dark and the cold.

And the thought of that, of this thin frail man in his arms all alone and scared to death, well Eric couldn’t stand it.

Thinking of Rudyard reminded him that he hadn’t gotten an answer yet.

As Eric turned to look down at him, Rudyard leant up to answer and their lips met for a brief second.

Less than a second.

A barely there touch.

But it still happened.

They kissed.

Eric’s lips tingled

His brain must have short circuited because the next thing he knew he was sitting at the small table in the Funn’s even smaller kitchen on a chair that most definitely had one leg shorter than the others. The storm still rumbled outside, lightning flashed across the sky and Eric flinched. It was only then he realized Rudyard was talking.

“-rong, alright! So, I need you to break out of whatever stupid daze you’re in because – while I appreciate the fact that you aren’t bothering me with your God awful personality - I don’t much like the idea of being trapped in here with the husk of Eric Chapman and a storm raging outside!”

Eric blinked, shook his head, and threw on his best ‘Chapman’ smile “Terribly sorry I’m not sure where I went there … apologies.”

Rudyard quirked an eyebrow and leant closer as if studying Eric’s face, it was unnerving to say the least.

The only good thing to come of it was that Eric could admire him under the pretence of confusion – well he was confused by Rudyard’s behavior but that didn’t mean he couldn’t appreciate his face being so close.

He looked very pale well paler than usual, the black circles under his eyes seemed darker and more sunken back. He was still very Pretty – or at least Eric thought so. His lips looked so soft, they had felt soft too when they had gently brushed against his own.

He wondered what it’d be like to kiss him for longer, not just a gentle peck. Would he let Eric lead – an image flashed into his mind, him pushing Rudyard against a wall, kissing him roughly, holding him in place – or would Rudyard try and gain control like he does with everything else – the image in his head changed to Rudyard moving closer, throwing his leg over Eric’s to straddle him while he sat on that rickety old chair in the kitchen, grabbing a handfuls of Eric’s hair in a tight grasp and pulling him forcefully into a kiss.

Lost in thought Eric found himself leaning closer to Rudyard just as he began to speak.

“Hmm just as I thought.” Rudyard muttered, straightening up and moving to sit in the chair opposite Eric.

“What?”

While Eric would admit he was in a bit of a daze after that particularly amorous train of thought he was sure that he had no idea what Rudyard was talking about.

“Your facade is cracking.”

“Excuse me?”

Rudyard shrugged and shifted in his chair. The old table creaked as he placed his elbow on it and rested his face in his palm. Eric had almost forgotten the storm.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about and frankly I don’t appreciate your tone.”

Rolling his eyes Rudyard continued “I had noticed it before, but it was very obvious just now. While that smile was very handsome it was also completely fake.”

Eric’s smile slowly dropped.

“There now your mouth matches your eyes! It was very disconcerting to see a smile so earnest paired with eyes so dead.”

Eric felt almost bare without his signature smile but … he also felt, well, less of a need to pretend with Rudyard. He longed to be more truthful, obviously not with everything. There were things he’d never be able to tell anyone, but the simpler things should be harmless enough to share.

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’m rather terrified of storms.”

Rudyard paused for a moment before muttering out a “Me too.”

The wind picked up yet again and the rain outside seemed to pour heavier still. Eric had always had mixed feelings about rain, because while he feared storms, rain by itself could be refreshing and rather beautiful. So, while the shape of the rain falling past the glow of the old streetlamps was very pretty Eric didn’t have a chance to even consider admiring it before another clap of thunder sounded.

“Perhaps the little couch in the sitting room would be a better idea than these wobbly old chairs.” 

An excellent idea Eric thought and nodded.  

They both moved on rather unsteady feet through the kitchen and to the two-person couch in the corner of the sitting room. Thankfully it was well away from the window.

“So … when did your fear of storms develop?”

“When I was a child … I got locked out in one.”

“Christ Rudyard how on earth did that happen?”

“Well Mother and Father were rather angry at me. I had accidently knocked over a coffin … with a body inside it.”

“Your parents locked you out during a storm!”

“Well I did make quite a mess.”

“Rudyard – “

“– and the storm hadn’t started when they first locked me out.”

“… but they didn’t let you back in?”

“Not even when the lightning started.”

Eric sighed “Well now I feel rather silly … my reason is nothing compared to yours.”

“I’d still like to know it if you don’t mind.”

“Very well … it just well they are rather loud aren’t they.”

“Ah so you’re not found of loud noises?”

“Not really.”

“You’re right that’s a rubbish reason to be afraid of storms!” Rudyard began to laugh, and Eric couldn’t help himself he joined in.

“Yes, it is isn’t it.”

“We are going to have to talk about that kiss.”

Eric tensed

“Are we?”

“Yes.” Rudyard moved closer and rested his head against Eric’s shoulder “Just not tonight.”