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if it weren't for second chances (we'd all be alone)

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there was a cool draft that slipped through the supposedly shut window near the couch where lev sat, watching kolya’s brows furrow and relax over and over. the only sound besides the quiet whistle of the wind that was intruding on the warm air that surrounded them was the sound of kolya’s pen against the paper of his journal that was slowly becoming unbound. this was the second one he had gone through since he had very nearly died.

that was how lev kept track of things now.

to be precise, it had been three months since kolya was shot. three months, eight days, and if he had to guess, about four hours. if he were to keep track down to the minute, he would be insane, but he didn’t and that provided him some solace. kolya wasn’t one to care about such meaningless details, but lev was sure he was at least somewhat aware.

kolya had gone through two journals, filling their pages with almost incomprehensible scribbles that he called “his handwriting” and for some reason defended with his life when lev had poked some fun at it. lev had made the worst and most inedible eggs three times since, before kolya had jokingly asked him to spare him from the burnt flavor and eggshell left in. he knew he wasn’t entirely joking.

his sleep had been interrupted by terrifyingly realistic nightmares upwards of twenty times. he was consequently comforted back to sleep by kolya twenty one times. his dreams weren’t all relived moments of his life’s greatest sadness, but a great deal of them were. sometimes he didn’t sleep at all. he’d lay next to kolya for a few hours waiting to finally drift off to sleep before carefully, very carefully as to not wake the man beside him, getting out of bed to walk around the small apartment until he felt tired or until the sun rose and he heard kolya call his name sleepily.

to think back on his routine, he felt like quite the madman. kolya himself never woke with night terrors— in fact he often laughed in his sleep, which was then followed by his arms tightening around lev’s midsection.

“are you going to ask what i’m writing?” kolya looked up over the top of his journal, a smile tugging at his lips.

“i have a very good guess. perhaps the third draft of 'the courtyard hound', except maybe you will finish it this time,” lev raised a brow.

“you’re right, though i doubt i’ll finish it. what’s new, right?” he shifted his leg on the couch, kicking lev’s thigh playfully, “when is your birthday, my friend?”

“what does it matter?”

“you’ve never told me,” kolya adjusted the way he sat, setting the journal down beside him and resting his now empty hands in his lap.

for a moment, lev paused before realizing. with all the ways he had been keeping track of time, none of them had accurately reminded him that he was eighteen today.

“it’s today,” he nodded slowly, a weak and incredulous smile spreading across his face.

“are you playing with me?” kolya raised a brow before laughing quietly, “we need to do something to celebrate, little lion!”

“we really don’t,” he shook his head and waved his hands a bit in the air.

“oh, but we do!” kolya leaned forward, masking the wince that flashed across his face with his characteristic bright smile that had always made lev feel a warmth deep within his chest, “it’s unfortunate that I haven’t found you a girl to run off and marry yet. unfortunate for you, not me.”

with outstretched hands, kolya asked for lev’s help in standing up. his injuries had left a formidable effect on kolya’s health, but he seemed to ignore this altogether. even when he was laid in the hospital with his injury that seemed to never stop slowly bleeding and sucking the color from his skin and life from his body, kolya was making jokes about the nurse who, in his words, had the pleasure to change the bandages around his pelvis. it was always ironic to see him laughing while lev sat beside him with cheeks that were terminally splotchy from crying.

when they were both up after some slight difficulty, lev looked up to kolya and smiled.
“what do you want to do then?”

“well i had hoped my lev had some brilliant ideas, you see,” he smirked and set a hand on lev’s shoulder. whether it was out of affection or the need for stability on his weakened leg, lev was unsure.

“i wouldn’t want to exhaust you,” lev shook his head.

“while finding you a girl that could put up with your late-night pacing might be a daunting task, i don’t tire that easily,” he smirked, “sonya might attest to that.”

lev’s cheeks turned a light shade of red, and he shook his head dismissively.
“you’re not very funny.”

“and you’re not a very good liar. you laugh at every joke i’ve ever told you.”

“that is far from the truth.”

kolya rolled his eyes and took a few slow steps towards the small table with only two seats. he plucked a dying flower from a vase that both of them had neglected to water for a few days, and stepped back over to lev.

“since someone failed to prepare me for their ever-important birthday, here is a stand-in gift for you until i can get you something more,” he smiled down to lev and placed the flower between lev’s fingers, careful not to wrap his fingers around the thorns on its stem.

“well thank you, sir,” lev laughed, trying to shake off the blush that only grew deeper in color.

“you know, my lion, i feel bad that you were not able to go to the wedding. all of that work with no chance at a night of carelessness and dancing,” kolya shook his head, feigning disappointment, “would you allow me to make that up to you now?”

“with no music?” lev felt kolya take the flower he had just given him and set it on the coffee table next to him, placing his hands around lev’s own and pulling him closer.

“well I could sing, if you’d like. you must love my rich baritone voice, no?”

“on second thought, i’m sure i can imagine some music,” he laughed, moving closer as kolya placed a hand on the small of his back and raised his other hand that gripped lev’s to a ninety-degree angle.

lev was sure he looked like a ballroom dancing amateur compared to the probably flawless form of kolya, as they slowly began to rock back and forth to a melody that kolya had hummed. his lack of pitch made it hard to realize it was 'the internationale'; it was an odd choice of song indeed.

when kolya had reached the end of the song, or at least the end of what he remembered, he raised his arm and motioned for lev to do a lazy spin.

“we need to practice your dancing, my lev,” he smirked and pulled him close once again, wrapping an arm around him to close the awkward distance between his chest and lev’s face.

as if the color that painted his face couldn’t get more embarrassing, lev thought as the warmth of kolya’s body radiated to his own.
there was a moment of silence before kolya stepped away an inch and looked down to lev with a look in his eye that was unfamiliar to him.

“thank you for that,” lev smiled weakly, hoping the blush had faded. based on the playful smile that grew on kolya’s face, it had not.

“don’t thank me yet, dearest,” he shook his head lightly before moving his hand to the side of lev’s face and leaning in close, pressing his forehead against lev’s.

he shut his eyes, placing his hand over kolya’s and smiling warmly. he opened his eyes to see that kolya’s were still shut, a similar smile on his face. in a moment of insanity, perhaps, but welcomed insanity no doubt, lev gently pressed his lips against kolya’s.

kolya’s hand seemed to fly expectantly to the other side of lev’s face as he deepened the kiss. this was the exact thing he had wanted to happen, and he had been waiting patiently. his plan had worked, and he would haughtily fixate on it for the rest of the day, which both annoyed and overjoyed lev. he had never figured someone would want to feel his intimate touch.

there was now a new addition to the mental calendar that lev had constructed: kolya had kissed him once since he had been shot, and lev would be lying if he said that he wouldn’t be hoping for many, many times more.