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Burn with me

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The last week - or was it weeks? It had become hard to tell, considering that in this short period seemingly more had happened than in their 20 years of life combined- had been more than just eventful. But the adrenaline high had eventually worn off and now they were all just tired.

It was a warm June afternoon back home in Rome and Damiano was stretched out on Ethan's couch.
They had planned to all meet up today to talk about what was next for them but both Vic and Thomas had texted them that they weren't feeling too well and would rather take the day off.
Neither of the boys minded much, in fact they had spent so much time talking about their futures that giving it a rest for just a day sounded like a good idea.

"Do you want to watch a movie?", Ethan asked as he entered the living room, "I should still have some popcorn."
Damiano hummed, cracking open one eye. Ethan allowed himself a moment to admire their singer, who had finally yielded to the heat and ditched his leather jacket. Now golden sunlight was dancing on his tanned skin, highlighting the dark ink of his tattoos.
"You can uhh.. Pick a movie", Ethan stuttered, feeling slightly embarrassed when he found two brown eyes looking back at him.
Before Damiano could make a comment about the drummer's not necessarily subtle staring, the latter disappeared into the small kitchen, setting to making popcorn.

Ever since their win he couldn't help but see Damiano differently.
He'd always known his friend to be incredibly talented, had always admired the way he had with stringing words into stories and songs that fascinated people all over the world. Not only that but he also brought them to life with his raspy voice and his confidence.
All of them were talented but to Ethan Damiano was just something else, otherworldly almost.
Or maybe he was just being dramatic, basing all his emotions off of a heat-of-the-moment action, a simple kiss, not unlike the one Damiano had shared with Thomas.
He was stupid to think that anything had changed but it had. For him.

Their following acoustic set had been a special kind of torture, albeit it was one that he kept inflicting on himself by rewatching that video over and over again. He just couldn't help it, no matter how much his brain screamed at him to stop acting like a 13-year-old fangirl, especially not when it came to his best friend, who also just so happened to be lounging around his apartment without a shirt on more often than not.
Ethan shook the thoughts off, deciding that it was just all the adrenaline of their win getting to his head, anything else would be too problematic in the long run.
He retrieved the popcorn that had gotten done during his miniature existential crisis from the microwave, pouring it into a large bowl. On his way out he also grabbed two bottles of coke from the fridge, balancing everything carefully.

Damiano sat up when he returned, a small smile gracing his features when he snatched one of the bottles from Ethan.
And then Ethan was back to staring at his friend, completely mesmerized by the way the muscles in his arms flexed when he struggled with the cap momentarily. Of course the actual drinking part was just sinful and wow Ethan had really reached a new level of strangeness as of late, hadn't he?
He cleared his throat awkwardly, finally taking a seat next to the singer.
"So... Did you pick anything to watch?"
"Nah, don't really mind", Damiano replied, setting his bottle down on the coffee table before lying down again so his head was pillowed on Ethan's thigh.
The drummer froze for a moment, cursing himself silently as he began stroking a hand through Damiano's chestnut brown hair, reaching for the remote with the other. They had always been touchy and Ethan loved it, maybe a little too much, considering that his heart was basically beating out of his chest. It was just that he seemed hyper aware of Damiano now. The way his chest rose and fell with each slow breath, the way his tigh seemed to absorb the heat radiating from the other.
It felt good but at the same time it was new and ultimately somewhat scary.

Ethan picked one of the first movies that popped up, already knowing that his mess of thoughts wouldn't let him concentrate either way.
He felt Damiano shift, for a moment fearing that he'd just move away all together but the vocalist was just reaching for the bowl of popcorn, placing it in front of him, where they could both reach it easily.

The vocalist made a few comments during the film and Ethan did his best to give an answer that would make it seem like he was paying attention to the screen but mostly the movie was just background noise to him, as he was entranced by the man in his lap. He watched as Damiano's dark brown eyes fluttered shut, his dark lashes casting shadows on his cheeks in the golden light of the setting sun.

The film ended soon after and a comfortable silence settled in the room after the ending credits had rolled. The only sounds came from outside and they actually provided quite the nice ambient. Ethan could make out cars, the quiet sound of an acoustic guitar, mixing with the chirping of crickets.
His eyes never left Damiano, his features still relaxed in sleep.
The waning sunlight had spilled over his whole body by now, giving his skin an almost ethereal glow.
The scene he found himself in was almost as surreal as winning the Eurovision had been but it brought him so much more peace than all that noise.
He had hugged Damiano then, as tight as he could, but it hadn't been enough, no, never enough, and suddenly he had been gone and Ethan had seen him back in someone else's arms.
Now it was just the two of them.

He was so close to happiness and still so far away.
Damiano and Vic, that was what the people wanted and the more he was around them, the more Ethan believed that it might just end up being true.
He loved them both, in different ways, and he wanted them to be happy but he couldn't deny the pang of jealousy in his heart every time he saw Damiano looking at her with those beautiful eyes of his.

The drummer sighed, his eyes drifting up to the open window.
Night had fallen without him noticing and the moonlight now filtered in, changing the whole setting.
Damiano was the sun, he decided, with his radiant smile and the sense of warmth he carried with him wherever he went.
And like everyone else Ethan was gravitating towards him. Like Icarus, he thought, smiling at the irony. Like Icarus he would risk it all just to be a little closer.

Damiano stirred, looking up at Ethan tiredly. He smiled slightly, sitting up and looking around.
"Sorry, didn't get much sleep lately."
Ethan waved him off.
"It's fine. Do you want to grab something to eat?"
Damiano nodded, yawning as he grabbed his leather jacket from the back of the couch.
"Pizza?", Ethan suggested, grabbing his money as well as his own jacket before heading for the door.
Damiano nodded again, following him quickly.

Outside the heat of the day had faded, chased away by a gentle breeze.
Damiano grabbed Ethan's hand, squeezing it slightly. The drummer turned to look at him but his eyes seemed glued to the ground.

The silence was strange for the usually rather chatty singer but Ethan wasn't sure how to address the problem until they reached the restaurant. Damiano was still holding onto his hand and he still hadn't said a word so Ethan gently pulled him aside just in case paparazzi had followed them.
The alley was dark but the glow of the streetlights was strong enough to allow Ethan to look at Damiano's face.
There was no smile there this time and his eyes, which were still refusing to meet his own, had taken on a strange shine.
"Dami?", Ethan lifted his face carefully, one hand coming up to cup his cheek. Damiano tried to turn away but Ethan stopped him with his other hand.
"What's wrong?"
The singer avoided his eyes as well as the question, trying to brush him off.
"Let's just go inside", he tried weakly though he made no move to pull away from Ethan.
The drummer shook his head.
"We're not leaving until you tell me."
"Please", he tried again, his eyes brimming with tears, "I want to go."
Ethan sighed but nodded, placing a gentle hand on the small of Damiano's back.
"We can just order, yeah?"
The vocalist nodded in response, keeping his eyes downcast as he reached for his hand again.

The walk back to Ethan's place was spent in tense silence, interrupted only by soft sniffles coming from Damiano occasionally.
The drummer was racking his brain for any reason, anything that could've upset his friend so much. He'd seemed fine earlier and nothing significant had happened since then at least nothing that would have warranted this reaction.

Ethan was almost relieved when he could finally shut the apartment door behind them and take Damiano into his arms. The singer fell apart on his shoulder, wet tears soaking Ethan's shirt within seconds.
The drummer just rubbed his back comfortingly, guiding them over to the couch so he could sit down with Damiano in his lap.
"Dami", he tried again, placing a gentle kiss on top of his head, "what happened?"
"Nothing it's just-", Damiano trailed off, the rest of his sentence getting lost in more sobs.
"Shhh... It's okay"
"What if I'm not good enough?", it was quiet, so quiet that Ethan had almost missed it.
The drummer sure hadn't expected that. Damiano, strong, confident Damiano, was scared to not be good enough? This didn't come out of nowhere.
"Who said that?", he asked, making the singer look up at him.
Damiano's eyes were red from crying and even now there were still tears running down his cheeks. Ethan wiped them away gently.
"I want you to listen to me now. Are you listening?"
Damiano sniffles but nodded, his eyes staying locked with Ethan's.
"You are too good for them. Always have been and always will be. They couldn't even dream of writing lyrics the way you do, of spinning words together to create a poem that will stay on people's minds forever and they could never dream of having a voice even half as beautiful as yours to bring the words to life. People all over the world admire you", a short break, "I admire you."
A small smile formed on Damiano's lips and he quickly looked down.
"Thank you."
Ethan brushed a strand of hair out of his face, placing a kiss on his forehead.
"And I mean that. I really do."

Damiano refused to let go after Ethan after that and the latter didn't mind in the slightest. They ordered their pizza, Damiano nodding off as the drummer stroked his hair. It was only when the doorbell rang to announce the arrival of their food that they had to separate and they both mourned the loss of contact.

Ethan watched Damiano as he picked up the last slice of his pizza, a soft smile on his face after the drummer had just told him a funny story with one of the Blind Channel Members back at Eurovision. The singer's tears had dried and even though he still seemed more thoughtful than usual, Ethan's attempts of distracting him seemed to have been largely successful.

They had music running in the background but neither of them was really paying attention to it but then there was this moment of silence between songs and suddenly Damiano was so much closer, brown eyes glimmering on the dim light and Ethan couldn't help himself.
He placed a hand on the back of Damiano neck, the other cupping his cheek as he had done so many times already that day, and he kissed him. The singer's lips were soft underneath his own and now, without adrenaline rushing through his veins, he could appreciate properly just how good it felt.

Damiano glanced up at him with big innocent eyes when they pulled away, hesitating only a moment before closing the distance between them once more.
And Ethan just knew that he'd gladly burn even if it was only to feel that one more time.