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Starry-Eyed

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“It’s getting pretty late…” Virgil stood solemnly across from Logan.

The night was warm. Warm enough to make the air heavy with musky scents of nature. From the sickly sweet smell of freesias to the shallow whiffs of grass, every little detail stood as an unashamed reminder of spring.

The evening breeze grazed his skin, wrapping him in its sultry embrace when he found Logan, seated on the ground, lost in his own head. The surroundings sighed. It was a delightful change from the usual cold nights that blew mercilessly at whoever was found awake and rattling with restless thoughts.

Restless thoughts like Logan’s.

Logan stiffened. He looked to the source of the voice, and let his muscles loosen once he recognized the figure in front of him. A short, relieved exhale could be heard escaping his lips. If one were to be quiet enough, maybe they’d hear Virgil’s curiosity spark in weak but volatile bursts.

“Virgil,” he began. “I wasn’t expecting you.”

Virgil stepped closer. The grass brushed against his shoes, delicate but assertive. He usually didn’t like the sound. It was much too unsettling, especially at a time where darkness enveloped each corner with its presence, rendering anyone weak and helpless. But at that moment, it was the least of his worries.

It wouldn’t be a part of his worries for quite a while.

“Shouldn’t you be asleep by now?” Virgil stood beside him, making sure to maintain a comfortable distance. “You’re usually so strict with your own schedule.”

In one swift move, Logan brought his hand up to inspect the watch on his wrist and his eyes went wide. “My apologies.” He looked around, clearly disarranged. “I didn’t seem to notice the time.”

“Distracted?”

Logan looked up. “Pardon?”

“Were you distracted by something?”

His gaze retreated to the ground, shame and embarrassment flooding his face. “Yes…” He admitted. “I suppose that would be a good assumption.”

Virgil cracked a smile, finding amusement in Logan’s sudden loss of order about himself. He glanced at the sky above them. A dark blue canvas had covered its entirety with clouds bleeding into the thick veil, sporadic and untamed. Stars were scattered across the heavens, enthralling in their unaligned pattern. It provided balance in some way. A solitary flaw in a sea of flawless elegance. Now that was a sight to see.

“I don’t blame you,” Virgil said. “The sky’s pretty clear tonight.”

“It is.”

“It’s rarely like this.”

Logan sighed, melancholy lacing his tone. “Unfortunately.”

A wave of empty silence passed. Logan cleared his throat, clearly not wanting to tolerate the awkwardness that hung in the air. “Speaking of nights, I should be preparing myself to sleep now.” He took one last glance at his watch before heading in the opposite direction. “Thank you for reminding me, Virgil.”

Virgil turned to look at him, his face tightening. He weighed his options, creating thousands upon thousands of reasons that spoke against what he was about to do. Yet...

“Wait.”

Logan stopped in his tracks. He looked over his shoulder and Virgil could’ve sworn his heart fluttered inside his chest, repeatedly colliding against the walls of his ribcage, when he was greeted with curious eyes he would willingly lose himself in.

“Virgil?” Logan asked, soft and cautious. “Is there something wrong?”

Virgil’s mind scrambled for something to say, desperately hoping that incoherent gibberish wouldn’t erupt from his lips. Luckily, they didn’t. “Like I said, the sky’s rarely like this. And it’s a weekend. It wouldn’t hurt to stay up for a little longer if you want to…”

Logan raised an eyebrow. “I don’t see how that would be a logical idea.”

“I didn’t say it was.”

Logan stayed bolted to where he stood, unwavering. Virgil sighed. “Things don’t always have to be logical, Logan-”

“I highly doubt that.”

“And I saw the way you were staring before I interrupted. You seem so... intrigued.”

Strangely, Logan’s voice diminished, possibly subdued by the last word. “What about it?”

“Nothing. It’s just that…” Virgil paused, scratching the back of his neck. “I don’t see you like that often. It’s a good break from being…”

“Unapproachable?”

“Stoic.”

“‘Stoic’?”

Virgil nodded.

Logan opened his mouth, hesitated, and said, “Should I take that as a negative observation?”

He shook his head. “No,” he replied. “I don’t think you should. You have a lot of self-control. That’s admirable.”

Logan stared at the ground, his face contorted into something Virgil couldn’t read. A crease formed between his eyebrows and that was enough of an indication for regret to start seeping into Virgil’s handwoven cloth of conscience. With an uneven voice, he quickly added, “Unless you don’t want to be called ‘stoic’, then just forget I said anything. I’m sorry if-”

“No.” Virgil cocked his head to the side, feeling the pricks of fear disperse and disintegrate. “It’s fine.” Logan turned to properly face Virgil. A hint of a smile could be seen upon his lips. “‘Stoic’ it is.”

It was Virgil’s turn to exhale with relief.

Logan went and sat back down, letting meaningful silence pass between them aside from the faint rustling against the grass. Virgil shifted his footing. He tried to decide if his presence was still welcomed or not.

“Virgil?”

Virgil glanced back. “Yeah?”

Logan smiled. His next words were enough to make Virgil numb from the long-lasting buzz of excitement that jittered through his bones.

“Would you like to join me?”

*****

That was how it started. Every week, after all of the strain, after all of the fatigue, the worry, the tightness that slithered and branched from every shortcoming, they found themselves in the same spot at the same time. There was never any formal discussion about it. Neither of them told or urged the other to meet them there. A specific time was never set. It simply happened. Every week, there was an itch in the deepest parts of Virgil’s insides, slowly but surely growing until it was impossible to ignore. He needed to be by Logan’s side, and he feared trying to form a sensible reason behind it.

Maybe he didn’t need a reason. Maybe they could continue this small routine of theirs, forever gazing at the endless sea of stars above them while ignoring Virgil’s agonizing feeling of wanting more. So much more. More of Logan’s presence. More of his demeanor. More of his calming voice that cascaded along crevices of Virgil’s uncertainty and distress, filling them with nothing but mellow security.

He wanted what lay beyond civil words and shallow smiles, but he would be a fool to say that it wasn’t far from his reach. Wanting more was a luxury he couldn’t afford. And what he had in that spot, beneath the stars, was all he could ever claim as his.

If that was the only thing he had in his grasp, he was going to savor it.

Logan had just finished discussing Sirius A, the brightest star that could be seen from Earth’s sky. Earlier, he pointed towards three stars spaced uniformly from one another. They eventually led to a ball of light that seemed to outshine the rest, grand and dignified with its superiority.

Virgil thought it was lucky.

“Do you remember the other day?” Virgil asked, poking through the wall of silence between them. That was another thing. Silence was rarely tense; never rigid. In some miraculous way, Virgil found comfort in the lack of noise. With Logan next to him, taut air was left with no room to settle. And Virgil was thankful. “When you said you were unapproachable?”

“I rarely forget things, Virgil.”

“I know.” A shaky hand ran through his bangs. “I just wanted to be sure.”

Virgil felt Logan’s stare. He didn’t dare to meet it. “Yes, I remember.”

There was a pause.

“Is that seriously what you think of yourself as?”

Logan turned to him, giving a confused look. Something dangled behind his voice. Hurt. Hurt that wasn’t his to carry. He couldn’t understand how the word could have affected him. Maybe he was tired. That must be it.

“Yes,” he answered matter-of-factly. “Is there something wrong with that?”

“No, it’s just that…” Virgil’s hand traced against his jeans, taking a stray thread and holding it between his fingers, a faux expression of focus plastered on his face. “Don’t you think that’s kinda harsh?”

“Being unapproachable?”

“Calling yourself unapproachable.”

“I don’t think so.” Logan reached up to adjust his glasses. Virgil still didn’t look at him. “It’s merely an observation. I know the others find it particularly difficult to consult me for dilemmas. Making an assumption based on their selective interactions was a logical thing to do.”

“Do you think we see you as unapproachable?”

Logan frowned. An answer stood stalling upon his lips. Maybe he didn’t like that. Maybe the question wandered to a place where it shouldn’t, and he couldn’t decide what to do with it other than wave it away like a fly that was much too adamant for its own good. “It would be a reasonable assumption…”

Virgil finally looked up and met Logan’s eyes, shiny with doubt. He barely noticed how close they were to one another, and that revelation almost made him choke. He took a breath and finally said, “Look, take it from someone who rarely leaves his room half of the time and hisses at anyone who tries to make any form of social interaction. You’re not unapproachable.”

Logan blinked, but their gaze didn’t break other than that. He stared into Virgil’s eyes, examining them. Waiting for something to falter. Something to hang back, show delay, and possibly give him a reason to believe otherwise. After a while, he turned away. Virgil had punched the air out of his arguments. When he spoke, his voice sounded lost.

“Is there any logical evidence for that claim?”

With that, Virgil inched closer. He placed a hand on Logan’s shoulder. The touch seared into his skin, but he didn’t pull back. He didn’t shy away. His hand stayed, rubbing fond circles on Logan’s back. Logan didn’t protest.

“You’re a lot of things, Logan. Unapproachable isn’t one of them.”

*****

Logan's eyes rarely left the glittering sky. Virgil never complained. In fact, he found delight in it. Logan was in the middle of explaining the expansion of the universe, but Virgil couldn’t help but steal a small glance. He was glad for that. Studying the way Logan’s face lit up from uninterrupted immersion, a jolt of warmth danced without rest.

That was Logan’s effect on him, and it was certainly going to be the death of Virgil one day.

“I never got to ask why you were interested in space so much.”

“Hmm... ?”

Virgil shuffled, his shoulder brushing against Logan’s. They were lying on the grass now. What Virgil once considered as a comfortable distance was thrown out the window, forgotten, and replaced with a new meaning. He cleared his throat. “You always seem so excited whenever space is involved. I mean... I’m pretty sure that’s the reason why the two of us are here every week, isn’t it?” Among other reasons. “Why?”

“It’s big.”

Virgil snorted, nudging Logan slightly. “That’s why?”

Logan laughed at that. Virgil had heard Logan’s laugh before. No, not the stringent one that he uses around the others for the sake of emitting laughter. He had a real one. Raw and vulnerable. He heard it every time he was done with another one of his rambles about the origin of certain constellations, laughing off the far-fetched beliefs made by the Greeks and the Babylonians. He heard it after Virgil recounted an instance with Roman, on the brink of losing his mind after being told that he needed to have facial hair before he could shave, let alone use a godforsaken sword to do it. He heard it when a firefly strayed too far and found itself landing on Virgil’s nose. He wasn’t a stranger to Logan’s laugh. Even so, that didn’t stop his chest from stirring with endearment every time he did.

Logan shifted. “There’s something intriguing about large things, Virgil,” he began once the lighthearted jests had died down. “There’s always more to learn, more to explore, more to understand. Even with that in mind, space is something beyond that; it’s beyond our understanding.” He gestured vaguely towards the sky. “It’s a seemingly infinite void that holds non-Earthly phenomena and continuously expands even before we’ve had the chance to witness it all. Space alone proves that our knowledge compiled after millions of years is only a speck in our universe.”

He paused, taking in the view in front of him, relishing in it as if it was the only time he could do so. His eyes reflected the same fervor that spilled and oozed from his words. “Many think it’s overwhelming, perhaps terrifying, but I think it’s interesting. I even think it’s, dare I say it, beautiful.”

Logan sighed. A smile hung on his face, reaching past his cheeks and up to his eyes. Seconds later, his smile fell. He cleared his throat as a faint blush started forming on his face. “My apologies for rambling. I got quite carried away-”

“You don’t need to apologize, L.” Virgil’s hand trailed to Logan’s, squeezing it gently. At the corner of his eye, he could see Logan’s smile reattach itself, and Virgil couldn’t have been anymore lovesick.

“I agree,” he said, but he wasn’t looking at the sky anymore. “It’s beautiful.”

*****

One night, it was different. The usual balmy and cordial breeze had come and gone, leaving nothing but tight air that stung Logan’s nose. Virgil laid on the ground, frigid and quiet. There were no cynical remarks. No skepticism towards the constellations and the history they held. No glint of clever retorts. Not even a dismissive chuckle that acted as a sign of Virgil’s confusion from the overwhelming buckets of knowledge Logan threw onto his lap.

Something was wrong.

“Virgil?” Logan finally asked, having decided that he couldn’t withstand the sudden shift of the air between them. “Are you alright?

It took longer for Virgil to respond. Much longer. “Kinda…” His voice was worn and raspy. “Just had a rough day today.”

Logan sat up, facing him. He could see the restraint on Virgil’s face, clear as day despite the low glow of the night that only highlighted the sharp lines of his caricature. The view tugged at his chest, almost wounding. Since when did he feel like this towards another’s sorrow? Was it the way Virgil was clearly being selective with his words? Did he not trust him enough to be more open... or was it something else? Something he had yet to understand… like the dark veil above his head that held more questions than answers. Whatever it was, it tugged harder when he noticed Virgil turn away. It only added to his pain.

“Would you still be able to tolerate my presence for today? If you would rather be alone, that’s completely understandable-”

“No.”

Logan paused. Virgil tried to sneakily wipe his eyes, but it failed to get past Logan.

His expression softened. Virgil was struggling, but Logan didn’t want to be another stone for him to carry on his already weakening back.

“You can stay,” Virgil said, his voice as quiet as a whisper. His face remained hidden. “Only if you want to.”

Virgil didn’t give him time to respond when he continued with, “If you don’t, that’s fine-”

“It’s okay.”

Virgil’s chest rose unevenly. He looked up, exposing his tear-stained face, and caught Logan’s comforting gaze. For a moment, maybe that was all he needed; a look that held sincerity without an ounce of selfishness.

He didn’t want to look away. He was afraid to.

“I’ll stay."

In a heartbeat, Virgil leaned into him, his face gently pressing against Logan’s shoulder, warm with tears. Logan wasn’t used to it, to say the least. Consoling someone was far from what he usually knew. Normally, he would leave the emotional complications to Patton. He knew more about emotions than Logan ever could. Quite frankly, Logan found himself vexed by it which meant that it would be doing both of them a favor. But today was different. Virgil was different… and he’d be damned before he’d catch himself sending Virgil away to someone else.

With his lack of experience, Logan only did what he felt was right. He wrapped his arms around him, placed a hand on the back of Virgil’s head, and he held. He held, and he held. He held Virgil close as if he had all the secrets of the world kept in his pocket. No. It was more than that...

He couldn’t quite wrap his head around it. Maybe what they had was beyond wanting. Beyond the usual things they craved from one another. At that moment, they held each other. They held without wanting anything in return.

Logan and Virgil sat on the grass, the sky twinkling without pause, and against all odds, they would stay. As long as Virgil needed him, as long as he had more tears to shed, they would stay.

In the midst of it all, Virgil’s words broke through, wobbly but certain.

“I’m really happy you’re here…”

*****

A week passed.

Logan wasn’t there.

At first, Virgil didn’t know what to make of it. More days passed... and he still didn’t know. He knew the reason behind his absence. Thomas had started on another project. As a result, both Logan and Roman were whisked away, tucked back in their respective rooms, drowned in schedules, blanketed in pressure, and wrung dry with expectations as high as the stars. Virgil was no exception. That’s the thing with him... he’s never excluded entirely, is he? The sudden change in the flow of things left him winded; it left him gasping for air more than it usually did. Was it because of the anxiety that came with it all? Was it the tension and weight that he had to endure that disrupted the calmness of his days? Or was it...

No.

No, it wasn’t. It shouldn’t be. Logan had every right to shift his attention to something else. After all, it was for the betterment of all of them. A victory for Thomas was a victory for all. If Logan wanted to dedicate his time to something that was clearly more productive and more worthy of his effort, who was Virgil to stop him?

Still, the pain that clawed in his chest didn’t cease.

Virgil didn’t expect Logan’s absence to be as hollow and bleak and... empty as it was. Surely, a little more than a week wouldn’t hurt much, would it? Oh, how wrong he was. As the yesterdays bled into tomorrows, something deep within him ached. It twisted and crumpled into a misshapen mess of longing and yearning. Yearning for the slowly expanding void to disappear until it morphed into a dismal hum, forever to be ignored and overlooked. He wanted it to shrink into what it should have been: something to pay no attention to.

He wanted... but he couldn’t afford wanting. He never did.

Maybe, if he tried hard enough, he could pretend it didn’t bother him. He could pretend that the barrenness Logan left didn’t gather into a thunderstorm, raging and merciless. Menacing and violent. He could ignore how it lashed against his skin, the icy wind thrashing to and fro until he turned numb. He could lie. He could hide. He could find another way to ease his mind.

He could do that.

But if he could... then why was he sitting on the grass, looking out into the darkness, desperately wishing to hear who Orion was and why he was considered as such a great hunter from a voice of familiarity?

Why was he here?

“Virgil?”

It was Virgil’s turn to stiffen, but he didn’t turn and look to the source of the voice. He didn’t need to. The way his heart leapt to his chest served as undeniable evidence.

“It’s late,” Logan said, words drenched in fatigue.

“I know.”

There was a pause.

“Shouldn’t you be asleep?”

“This sounds familiar.”

Logan smiled through his words. “It does.”

Silence stretched. It stretched much longer than they would have liked. Logan shifted uncomfortably. “Virgil, why are you here?”

Virgil’s chest rose. His mind scraped every corner for a reason. When he turned up empty-handed, he replied with, “I’m not sure.”

They were met with silence once more. Logan took one step towards him. Then another. And another. He sat down, and the warmth of his presence was probably enough to tip Virgil over the edge from his precipice of constraint. For a while, they stayed like that, scared of saying the wrong things and making the wrong moves. Maybe it was better that way. Maybe talking wasn’t worth their time anymore. Maybe Logan had decided it was for the best that they stopped. For the best...

Why did the best always seem to hurt the most?

“I’m really sorry if what happened last time put you off.”

Logan glanced at him. “What makes you think that?”

“I don’t know.” Virgil scratched the back of his head shamefully. “I thought I scared you or something.”

“I don’t get scared.”

“You know what I mean.”

“I... don’t think I do.”

“Why do you always-” Virgil stopped and took a breath, letting his head drop into his hands. “Did I do something wrong?”

“Virgil-”

“Did I upset you in some way?” His tone started to waver like how a gate shook and rattled before bursting open, letting loose whatever creature that panted for freedom.

“Of course, not.” Logan’s next words were soft. Light. Delicate. “I was busy. You know this.”

“I do.” Virgil sighed. “I do know. I’m sorry. I just…”

For a while, Logan looked at him. Thoughtful and evaluative. He still had a hard time grasping why he cared so much about the words that left Virgil’s mouth. It wasn’t even merely the words anymore. With every action, every mannerism, every breath that filtered through his chest, he was left to dangle on a limb, desperately trying to understand more. Perceive more. Absorb more than what Virgil was letting on. Maybe, by some miracle, he could finally decipher the weird language of Virgil, and he could offer him what he wanted. What he needed. The chances of Logan actually giving him that were ridiculously low, but for Virgil, he would try. As long as Virgil’s mind went rampant with whirlwinds of disquiet, he would try.

Again and again, Logan would try.

Virgil lifted his head, still avoiding Logan’s gaze. “I’ve never had something like this.”

Logan’s brows furrowed. “Like... what?”

This.” Virgil gestured to the space between them. “Just talking and listening and looking and…” He paused, taking his time to consider his next words. He ran a nervous hand through his bangs. “It’s always just been me, y’know? I’ve never had anyone else to talk to and help forget that the rest of the world exists. It’s nice. It feels nice. I guess I was just... scared.”

“Scared…” Logan repeated hesitantly. “Of what?”

A weak laugh escaped Virgil’s lips. “Of losing it in some stupid way.”

“Virge…” Logan began, but the rest of it trailed off. It wasn’t important. Not anymore.

It all started with a touch on Virgil’s shoulder. Just a small pat that said Logan was there. But it burned. It burned with aching. Tenderness. Affection. Everything that was stripped from them after so long came together in one touch, crowding around like a whirlpool. Before they even noticed, Logan wrapped his hand around him. Virgil clung onto it, holding as if his life depended on it. Logan came closer, taking the gesture Virgil threw his way and wrapped him with another hand. His embrace formed a port, a cover, a shelter to shield him from the raging storm of the world outside of their little spot. Logan would do that for him. He had no doubt about that.

When Logan was close enough, he rested his head on Virgil’s shoulder. Virgil turned to him slightly and he let their foreheads touch with a warmth that spread like a wildfire. Logan still had his arms around him, his heat infectious in the best way possible. Virgil couldn’t believe it. He almost didn’t want to. He feared for the sun to rise from its dark and desolate chamber, shedding its light and revealing what they had to be nothing but an illusion. He didn’t want the sun to rise. He didn’t want the night to end. He didn’t want to open his eyes and be greeted with the same stony loneliness he was used to.

But he wasn’t. He opened his eyes, and there was Logan. And Virgil couldn’t have asked for anything else.

Virgil spoke. It was soft and breathy, but Logan was close enough to hear it. “Are you still busy?” He finally asked, his lips lightly grazing against his. “Do you need to leave?”

“No.”

Virgil swallowed thickly. “Can you stay?”

Logan squeezed him tighter as if proving a point… and he smiled. “As long as you want.”

His smile was contagious and Virgil couldn’t help the way the corners of his mouth quirked up. After a while, he lifted his head and was met with blue eyes as dark as the night sky. His smile faded. So did Logan’s. The air quivered between them, shivering with uncertainty. But amongst all the doubts that clouded the moment, they were certain of one thing and one thing only.

Virgil leaned forward. Logan met him halfway. Their eyes fluttered shut before their lips met in complete and utter adoration for the other. Logan’s lips were sweeter than Virgil expected, but that didn’t stop his stomach from spinning and twisting into knots in the slightest. Why would it?

When they broke away, Virgil opened his eyes again and was surprised to see the same starry-eyed look Logan always had when he was lost in the stars above. Virgil couldn’t do anything else but lean forward for more.

Perhaps space wasn’t the only thing that Logan found captivating.