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Warm Hands and Whales

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Parole didn’t have a lot of certainties. Not a surprise, really – trap enough people in a bubble together with an army ready to shoot to kill and then set a fire underneath the whole death trap and things did tend to get a little chaotic.

Still, despite everything, a few things managed to stay regular, even in the very irregular life that Parole handed them. Ash guarded the library, day in and day out, vigilant as could be. Rowan treated the sick and wounded to the best of their ability. Jay stuck his neck out just enough to tease SkEye to anger but not enough to risk getting caught.

And Regan stayed inside.

That was his safety net, the regular routine. It surrounded him the same as the invisibility, in a way, a cloak to throw up around himself to block off the raging anxiety that always lingered just over his shoulder. If he stayed to a pattern, just like if he faded out of view, he stood a chance of panicking less. Just a chance, but Regan took what he could get. If that meant only going outside when Runtime necessitated it, that’s what he did. Or, at least, that’s what he did for the past year or so, ever since he and Zilch had pulled out of SkEye together.

The fact that he was here, far outside the library, was a break in that long standing habit and the strangest part was that the thought didn’t scare him.

Of course, part of it was that even Regan had a hard time feeling anxious with the tall, warm form pressed up against his side. Long, thin fingers that spent most of their time flying across a keyboard now stayed impressively still, intertwined with Regans own, the two of them and the room lit by the blue tinged glow of the computer screen. Jay’s apartment was a small space to begin with and made smaller by the tech equipment packed into every spare inch of it, a cluttered mess that closed around them more like a cave than a room. Somehow, it was starting to feel as safe, as much like home, as the library.

Regan didn’t know just what that meant. Something important, though, that was for sure. Maybe even the most important thing in his life.

They’d started the night and the movie sitting next to each other but with only their hands actually touching. Just touching, then, not even tightly intertwined like now. Jay kept his apartment cold and Regan had taken the excuse to close that distance as the night went on, settling in nearer and nearer to him. Now Regan sat sealed tight against Jay’s side, head resting on his shoulder and frill rustling just a bit with every breath he felt from the man beside him.

Jay was surprisingly still, breathing aside.  Well, for Jay anyway. Even though he’d kept himself in easily cuddling range his free hand still gestured wildly at the screen, words running out of his mouth a mile a minute. Just like they had the whole movie. Thank god for subtitles, it at least meant Regan could both listen to Jay’s stream of consciousness and still follow the story.

Sort of anyway. Jay’s favorite movies tended to be strange, Regan was used to that, but the Star Trek ones always managed to be the strangest.

“So why do they need the whales again?”

Though the question was quiet, barely over a mumble, Jay had clearly been waiting for even the slightest response because he immediately paused his ramble to focus on Regan. He nuzzled his cheek against the top of Regan’s head and his head frill twitched at the contact. “They need to call off the probe threatening Earth off, that’s why they’re out here looking for a humpback whale song.”

Regan nodded, just slightly so as not to dislodge Jay’s cheek from its new spot. His eyes narrowed at the screen as he thought. “I mean, I know they need to save the whales or there wouldn’t be much of a movie, I’m just thinking about it… no one in the entire galaxy ever recorded a whale song? Anywhere?”

He felt Jay’s chuckle vibrate along the head frill, making him shiver at the pleasant sensation. Those long fingers squeezed a little around his own. “Hey, do we need an excuse to save the whales? People have always jumped behind that cause.” His mouth stretched into that familiar, easy smile, loose and bright – Regan felt it more than saw it, really. Even the slight twitch of lips against the scales of his forehead sent warmth diving into him, all the way down to his core. His frill flared again, a brief little rustle that he was certain Jay could feel against his shoulder.

If he didn’t feel that, he’d feel warmth soon – it was creeping up now from his stomach up towards his cheeks, a strange  sort of warmth that felt so different from the burning head outside of this little oasis. Regan was used to hot and dry or cold that pierced down to bone – side effect of being part reptile now, he was the only one that ever managed to get cold in Parole – but this was something else. Something heavy that filled his chest to bursting. In any other situation, he’d be worried about getting sick.

This though… this felt familiar. Familiar and good.

He curled closer to Jay, thought of a year ago when just the thought of being this close to a man, being this vulnerable, even with a friend, would have made him panic. But now he felt safe. Comfortable. Like he was sitting somewhere he belonged. Like he was cuddled up to Rowan right now, actually. Or Zilch. Or both at once.

Maybe that was why the movie was so hard to follow. It hit Regan all at once that this was what it felt like to fall for someone. Again. That warmth surged up again, nearly dizzying.

The kiss surprised him almost as much as it did Jay. Regan hadn’t even quite registered that he was moving into position for, not until their lips touched gingerly. Jay went entirely still now, real stillness, stunned so much that even his wildly gesturing hand froze in midair. He didn’t even seem to breathe, or at least Regan didn’t feel breath against his face. He felt warmth though. Jay’s lips were so warm, warmer than Regan had even thought they would be, chapped and dry and opened into a small O of surprise.

Surprise. That realization hit him in an instant. He didn’t ask to do this.

Regan jerked away like he’d been burned by their contact – and it certainly did feel like he had with the way that the gentle warmth in his cheeks turned into a harsher, fiery heat that made his scales tingle.  “I…”  His voice died and he swallowed. “I’m sorry.” He released Jay’s hand slowly, reluctantly, and those long fingers let him pull away but Jay still let out a noise that almost sounded like pain at the loss of contact. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have just… done that.”

He tried to scoot back, darkness covering him even as he started to fade from view from the legs up. It would have taken mere seconds to go completely invisible – and then Jay reached out. The ginger touch to his shoulder brought Regan back to himself all at once, visible again like Jay’s hand had anchored him there. His eyes fell to where it rested on his shoulder, then went back up to meet Jay’s gaze. “I can leave,” he said softly. “If you want me to.”

“You leaving is the last thing I want right now,” Jay said firmly, not a trace of doubt there. Then he was smiling again, that smile that said things were okay, that Regan was okay. His hand found Regan’s again. “Can I kiss you? For real this time?”

Regan couldn’t find the answer, or at least not the words. They didn’t even feel like they existed, words that could contain how much he wanted Jay’s lips on him. If they did exist, they certainly weren’t anywhere in his head. Nothing was actually in his head right now, nothing except that fuzzy, dizzying warm, and he nodded in the seconds before he again moved forward. This time Jay met him halfway.

The movie continued in the background, voices and scenes fading into gentle static as Jay deepened the kiss. Eventually Regan simply closed his eyes, lost himself in the mouth on his, the hands around his own.

When they did finally break apart, to breathe and to think, Regan realized distantly that the credits were rolling. He never did find out if the Enterprise had saved the whales. He would just have to come back to watch the movie again. And again. As many times as Jay would have him.

Regan reached out to cup Jay’s cheek, bringing him in close again for another kiss. They’d already missed the movie – time to make sure nothing else got watched tonight either.