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Another Day, Another Year

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Sunlight is just beginning to filter through the curtains when Don wakes, letting his eyes flutter open sleepily. As usual, he doesn’t take long to rise, cautiously peeling back the striped covers to slide out of the bed. The mattress creaks slightly as he shifts. He pauses and turns his head to see if he’s woken his sleeping husband.

Gentle snores still fill the air and a relieved smile slips onto Don’s face as he gazes at David’s calm face, his golden eyelashes resting against his pale, freckled skin. The clock on his bedside table tells him it’s just turned eight and he decides to let him sleep a little longer. For a second, he wants to reach over and run his fingers through his sleep-mussed hair, but he knows how easily he’ll wake. Recently, David’s already-erratic sleep schedule has worsened to the point where he’s been tossing and turning each night, often slipping into bed in the early hours of the morning. (Don pretends to be asleep when he does this, knowing he’ll be upset if he wakes him, but still wraps his arms around him to pull him closer every night.)

Finally, he tiptoes out of their quiet bedroom, carefully trying not to step on any creaking floorboards. The cat winds itself around his feet as he enters the kitchen, meowing impatiently.

“Good morning, sweetheart,” he chuckles, bending down to scratch her chin. She purrs delightedly.

The coldness of the tiles seeps through his feet and he makes a mental note to order some more slippers online. His own pair went missing last week, much to David’s chagrin. (“I swear, Don, every bloody time I buy you something it goes missing within three bloody days!”)

It wasn’t quite how he’d planned David’s birthday going. The original plans had been a weekend away together, filled with long walks and gorgeous cosy coffee shops where they could secretly smile at each other over cups of herbal tea. But then certain….events had happened, and so the original plans had been tossed away with just about any other opportunity for a birthday celebration. But for now, as he places bread in the toaster and boils the kettle, Don is going to make the most of it.

The deafening silence is solemn – usually the streets of London would be bustling with traffic and noise by now, the sirens screaming out a traditional alarm. This morning, it is nothing but the cat’s rumbling purr and the steady boiling of the kettle. It’s almost comforting, in a strange way. Allowing Don a rare peaceful start to the day as he stares contentedly at the smallish garden that he’s avidly turned into his lockdown project. There’s a patch of vegetables in the corner, flowers in the pots that line the patio, two solitary deckchairs resting on the perfectly cut grass, just waiting for the couple to sit and relax with a cup of tea. (Or maybe a gin and tonic. Almost definitely a gin and tonic).

A popping noise breaks the stillness and he removes the toast quickly before lavishing it with the homemade jam David had made a few days earlier. The lid of the cafetière is plunged, the toast made, all artfully arranged on a tray. He carefully tries to balance it as he climbs the stairs, narrowly avoiding a collision with the Other Cat. (David hates this. “They have names, you know!”). He nudges the bedroom door open with his hip and is greeted by the site of David already sat up in bed, reading.

“Ooh, morning tea?” he grins, looking up.

“Breakfast in bed, actually,”

“Wow, I am being spoilt. Did you make it all yourself?” David quirks an eyebrow.

“Yes,” Don blushes as he hands David the tray. “I’m not that bad at cooking you know,”

(This is, of course, entirely untrue. Tales of Don’s cooking incompetence are legendary among their friends. He’d tried to cook David a romantic dinner once in the early days of their relationship – only the meat was both undercooked and charred, the potatoes hard, the vegetables over-cooked…..they’d got a takeaway).

“I don’t doubt it for a second, Scrippsy dear,” David replies with a wry smile as Don shuffles back under the covers next to him.

“Is it alright? I know it’s not what we had in mind but…” he rubs the back of his neck sheepishly. “Well. You know,”

“It’s perfect, Don. Really,”

David leans over and presses a strawberry jam flavoured kiss to his lips. His hand meets Don’s over the covers and Don blushes like they’re still teenagers clinging to each other in a single bed at Oxford, not two grown men with a semi-detached house, two cats and a mortgage. A content smile tugs at his lips as he pulls away.

“Happy birthday, love,”