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there is nothing for me (but to love you)

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“If you’ve ever wanted to dance with me in the rain…”

Kao always made his hands feel magnetic. He was a lodestone, the true north, unyielding. He brought the love in him pushing against his skin. The chest of him was filled with pocketed softnesses.

The backyard had turned into a mud pit; they were supposed to have had new grass put in two months ago. Their small sapling lashed in the strengthening rain. When Pete stood—toes digging into ankle-deep sludge—he made sure to haul Kao up with a little more force than he needed. There was joy to be had in making Kao bump into him, as if he needed an excuse to stand so close to him.

Kao’s nose was cold against his.

“Gross,” Kao wrinkled his nose, making a face at him. “Let me fold my pyjamas up first. They’re going to get all muddy.”

“Nope. Dance.”

“They’re getting all weeeet and slimyyyy.”

“You’re the one who made me an offer.” Pete hauled his monsoon body in closer, hips snug. Kao’s hands flew up to settle on his shoulders. “Not my problem. We can wash them later.”

“What if they stain?”

“Then we’ll get you new ones.”

“You’re so annoying,” Kao groaned, terribly fond, and when his teeth closed around Pete’s nose, it was gentle. “Punishment.”

“What kind of punishment was that?” Pete asked him.

“One that I think was deserved.”

The rock of their bodies was slow in the cold. Kao had started trembling in the drenched cold and, tender, Pete pulled him in closer. Not that he was any warmer, really. Something about it—the moment—was so tender and silly and delicate.

When their gazes snagged, Kao’s eyes were molten and bright. An intimate little smile played on his lips as he looked at Pete so closely that he had to press their temples together for a second, and let out a long breath to try and loosen the tight knot of emotion in his throat. Kao gave his back a little squeeze like he knew the effect he could have from this close.

He probably did. Kao knew lots of things, after all.  He had probably perfected how to make everywhere feel like ballrooms and marble.

“What’re you staring at?” Kao asked against his mouth, rain-wet and hoarse. The quiver of his spine was more prominent now. The tips of his fingers, locked behind Pete’s shoulders, gently rubbed absent circles as they circled. “And don’t say ‘you’.”

“You want me to lie?” Pete snorted. “Fine—I was staring at our fence. We need to repaint it.”

Kao turned them to the side so he could look at the fence as well, calculating, and Pete lost himself in the way he could count every clump of soaked eyelashes. The thoughtful pucker of his lips was the sweetest tangerine. Pete helped himself to a kiss or three, laughing into the poke he earned to his back. When he tried to spin them, he skidded on his heels and it was only Kao’s tight grip that prevented them both from tumbling over.

“If you drop me, I’m leaving,” Kao threatened. His breath fogged in the small space between their noses and, beaming, Pete bumped their noses. “No. You can’t cute your way out of it.”

“You could use a mud bath—might help with your complexion.”

“You sure talk a lot for someone aging like a ballsack.”

“Oh, fuck you.”

The playlist they had carefully curated for the lazy weekend was barely audible out here under the yawning grey sky and the rain, but maybe it was for the better. Pete would rather hear Kao’s slow breaths against his ear anyway. A guitar strummed gently in the distance and Kao’s lips when they touched his again were rain-slick and soft.

You’re so lovely, with your smile so warm and your cheeks so soft,” Kao hummed against his mouth, lips brushing his with each word he sang. His eyelashes quivered, speckled with raindrops. Pete heart free-falled. “Well, maybe not too soft. You need to shave.”

“You do too.”

Kao huffed out a breath of amusement, lips curling, and Pete gave him a peck on the corner of his mouth. Above them, the trees trembled like Kao’s spine.

’Cause I love you,” Pete missed the timing—entered a little too late—but Kao only smiled wider. Pete kissed the glisten of his teeth and then his lips and then his cheek. Kao’s eyes flickered with the rain falling into them. “Just the way you look tonight.”

You send me, Kao Phanuwat, he thought fervently in his heart, the words swirling through his blood in gorgeous, ethereal curls.

“I love you,” he sighed into Kao’s mouth.

“Love you more,” Kao murmured back, before giving him a slow, perfect kiss.