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Four Stone Walls

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Jon leaves Martin in the kitchen, watching the kettle, while he explores the rest of the safe house. Thick stone walls make it even smaller inside than it had seemed from the outside, and it doesn't take Jon long to realise there's only one bedroom, with only one bed.

He's just finished shaking the duvet into its cover and is smoothing it down when Martin appears silently beside him. "Oh," Martin says.

"You can have it," Jon says. "You had to drive." Because even after everything Martin's been through, Jon's so useless he's never got round to passing his driving test.

"Right," Martin says, and keeps staring at the bed. "Oh, tea's ready," he says, and they go back to the kitchen, where Jon's tea is steaming in its mug, exactly the right strength with exactly the right amount of milk and sugar. Jon mentally smacks himself for taking so long to appreciate Martin.

They stay in the living room, sitting at opposite ends of the sofa in companionable silence, until Jon notices Martin's eyes are closed.

"Martin?" he says.

"I'm awake," Martin says, but the words are low and muzzy, and his eyes stay closed.

"Time for bed," Jon says, and he takes the empty mug out of Martin's hand. His skin brushes Martin's, and Martin's eyes shoot open. Jon stares at him awkwardly for a moment before putting the mug down, and holding out his hand to help Martin up.

Martin smiles, soft and small, then takes Jon's hand and lets Jon pull him up. Jon doesn't quite want to let go, doesn't quite know how to, so they stay hand-in-hand as Martin leads them to the bedroom. Jon still doesn't let go as he says, "Here you are."

"Jon," Martin says.

Jon waits for a long moment.

"I." Martin swallows. "Please don't make me be alone."

The embarrassment flows through Jon. He should have realised. "Of course not," he says, and Martin relaxes, a tension Jon hadn't even noticed easing from him.

"Thanks," Martin says, and now he drops Jon's hand, turns away as he starts undressing for bed.

"I'll. My pyjamas are in the other room," Jon says. "And I'll just brush my teeth."

He changes into his pyjamas in the kitchen, brushes his teeth in the kitchen sink to leave Martin with the small bathroom, and when he comes back into the bedroom, Martin's curled up in the bed, duvet pulled in close around his face, and Jon's protective instincts surge.

"Are you awake?" he asks quietly.

Martin's eyes stay closed, but he says, "Yes," and wriggles over a little, making space for Jon behind him.

Jon hesitates, but crawls in, lifting the duvet as little as possible to keep what warmth there is safely tucked inside. He wants to reach out, pull Martin close to him, but he hesitates. "Martin?" he says.

"Mm-hmm." Martin sounds barely awake.

"I just. Before we do this. I think you should know. I." His mouth is dry. "I love you."

Martin turns around at that, looks at Jon over his shoulder, his expression warm and gentle. "Yes, Jon," he says, and there's so much affection in his voice that Jon feels something defrost inside him. "I'd noticed that."

Martin reaches behind him, takes Jon's wrist, and tugs until Jon's chest is pressed tight against Martin's back and Jon's arm is wrapped around Martin's body, his hand on Martin's heartbeat. Martin's t-shirt is soft and thin with age, and Jon can feel the heat of his body.

"But. I. I mean, I don't know if you want that. But. I'm not really into sex."

Martin just hums, wriggles closer into Jon's embrace. "Jon. You love me. I love you. We can worry about the rest later. Okay?"

Jon tucks his nose into the nape of Martin's neck, and Martin doesn't even shiver even though Jon's nose is frozen. "Okay," he says, and he sleeps better than he has for years.