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slow motion (see me let go)

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Caleb opens his eyes and for a moment cannot place what woke him. He blinks slowly, wincing and half closing his eyes at the insistent sprawl of afternoon sunlight across his bed through the crack in the curtains. The house is silent, but his phone buzzes insistently, somewhere.

Rolling over on his bed, duvet tangled around his legs, his thoughts swim and his head begins to ache, nausea making his stomach churn. His mouth tastes like ash. He searches the dimly lit room for a sign of his phone - which is not on his bedside table or charging like he might hope. Crawling from the nest of clothes and blankets, shifting to his knees on the floor, he fumbles for the buzzing device. He sources it, more by chance than intent, in the back pocket of his discarded jeans.

He answers without looking at the caller. “H’lo?” His voice emerges rough and slurred. He may still be a little drunk.
“Caleb, did I wake you? I’m outside your front door, got coffee.” Fjord’s easy drawl is low and unobtrusive to Caleb’s growing headache.

He grunts a response. “Down in a moment. Wait, bitte.” He hangs up, no time for pleasantries as he forces himself to his feet, limbs aching and tired.

It’s not much work to source a clean looking and inoffensive smelling tracksuit, and he strips of the tee shirt that smells of lingering smoke, alcohol and sweat, tossing it aside. There’s a pile of what he thinks is dirty laundry and it lands squarely atop it, so that will do. The clean tee he sources is too large for his more slender frame, hanging loose and stretched out at the collar. By this, Caleb can only assume he has somehow, and not for the first time, accidentally taken one of his housemates’ clothes - Eodwulf’s by the sizing. Astrid’s fit him more closely, snug to his skin; not an unwelcome look, some nights.

A spritz of deodorant later, he attempts to haphazardly tame the nest of his hair with some finger combing as he pads down the narrow staircase to the front door. Through the frosted glass panels, he sees Fjord’s outline, dark against the bright of the day.

The door opens inward and Caleb squints at Fjord, arching a brow in query. Fjord looks soft in a way that Caleb wants to bury himself in; a tatty beanie covering the majority of his hair and the tips of his ears, his university rugby society hoodie snug across his chest and biceps, soft worn denim shaped to his long legs and solid thighs.

Caleb’s hangover insistently reminds him of how shit he feels, body desperate for a break. His brain supplies that cuddling Fjord and closing his eyes would be nice, just to take a breath. Fjord gestures a little with the coffee cups he’s juggling in one hand, his mobile still in the other.
“Can I come in then Cay?” Fjord’s raised brow and the amused smile that catches at the edge of his mouth are familiar and warm.

Caleb steps back from the door to allow Fjord in.

-

“Y’look…” Fjord searches a moment for the word he wants. Haggard rushes to the tip of his tongue, as does ill, but they’re unkind, and Caleb needs more kindness than that. “Y’look tired.” Caleb grunts at him again, reaching for the coffee Fjord holds out to him. Holding the hot drink hostage would earn no brownie points. Caleb sips at the hot drink as Fjord closes the door behind him, shutting out the cold.

Fjord would be hard pressed not to notice the state of Caleb, the tangle of his hair, the bruised tired of his eyes and the way he winces at any remotely loud sound - the closing of the front door had earnt a twinge of pain across his features and a wounded expression. They need to talk about the drinking, about everything really, but now isn’t the time. Fjord is not sure when the right time is, if there will ever be a right time.

“Better?” His own coffee was near finished, the dregs lukewarm now and less than pleasant. He toys with the cup in his hand, flexing the shape of it idly, the card bending beneath the slow pressure of his thumb. Caleb nods, then shrugs, making his way wordlessly through into the lounge of the little terraced house.

The place is silent. “Wulf and Astrid not around?” Caleb shrugs once more, slumping down onto a sagging, comfortable sofa, strewn with mismatched pillows and blankets.
“I think they were planning on lunch, I do not remember.” The expression on Caleb’s face says he does remember. It says a million unspoken things that Caleb will not venture to express out loud.

Fjord has watched this messy dance for a while now, watched the three of them fall in and out of each other’s arms, seen their influence on Caleb- That perhaps is not fair, he knows Caleb is not weak willed and he’s made plenty of his bad decisions without any assistance, but the rest of his little group are no help. Fjord worries. He’s not judging whatever relationship Caleb has with them, not when his and Caleb’s own relationship is in itself so hard to define, but he is allowed to worry when Caleb is left alone like this, cut adrift and struggling to keep abreast of whatever seems to plague him.

Making a noncommittal sound, Fjord settles onto the sofa beside Caleb, placing his empty paper cup on the cluttered coffee table and lifting an arm to invite Caleb in. For a beat, Fjord thinks he won’t. He thinks Caleb might maintain the slump he’s in, at once too exhausted to sit any other way, and yet too practiced in looking casual, relaxed. Fjord does not trust it. Caleb meets his eyes, a little bloodshot around the startling blue, and shifts with a neediness that takes Fjord a little by surprise. He tucks himself into the offered space, pillowing his head against Fjord and cradling his coffee cup against his chest.

Fjord is not sure words are needed, his body can speak better. His arm around Caleb tightens and he drags his hand slowly up the other’s back til he meets the warmth of bare skin above the collar of the oversized tee. He cups the back of Caleb’s neck and Caleb sighs.

Fjord drifts, he thinks. He doesn’t sleep, isn’t tired enough to, just loses his thoughts for a while, scatters his busy mind and allows himself, and Caleb, a moment to breathe.

-

Fjord is warm, as soft and comfortable as Caleb presumed. He buries his face in the half-orc’s hoodie, breathing in the scent of clean laundry, of coffee and some kind of woody aftershave. Hidden there, Caleb breathes deeply and closes his eyes. The headache does not abandon him, but it does subside a little. Under his mashed face, Fjord’s chest shifts in deep, rhythmic inhalations and Caleb is grateful that he initiates no conversation for a while.

He tries not to think of Astrid and Wulf, out together, without him. He doesn’t like to think of it, not when he has Fjord here.

A brief glance up has Caleb’s eyes greeted by the solid line of Fjord’s jaw, freshly shaven and smooth, the slight jut of his cheekbone and a peek at the softness of the corner of his mouth, a deeper green than the rest of him. Fjord was a good kisser, albeit hesitant, from what Caleb can remember, but Caleb is still unsure if that was because they’d not kissed before as opposed to inexperience on Fjord’s part. 

Whilst parties at the house Fjord shares with Jester, Beau and Nott are fun, Caleb goes because they’re easy. He knows he’s got little need to front anything with them. If he wants to be quiet, he can.
It had been impulsive to sit on Fjord’s lap there in the first place, hoping he would indulge Caleb’s affectionate whim, and even more a risk to turn the words he’d hummed against the shell of the half-orc’s ear into a soft kiss to his jaw. And then some. They kissed a lot that night, Fjord’s big eager hands snug on his waist, his hips, his ass, curious fingers exploring just beneath the hem of Caleb’s shirt.

Jester crowed her approval once and Beau gave a sidelong smirk before she returned her starry eyed gaze to the tall girl she’d invited from roller derby. Nott’s expression had been hard to read, but she didn’t voice disapproval.

Now, this warm, quiet cuddle on a sofa, is different, but similar. Caleb thinks he only has to ask or to kiss. Fjord won’t mind. Despite knowing this, Caleb’s heart races madly at the thought. Not yet, not yet.

Moving feels like swimming through treacle but Caleb does, extricating himself from Fjord’s arms and standing. He collects their empty cups and pads into the kitchen.

The linoleum is cool and a little sticky beneath his bare feet, making Caleb wrinkle his nose as he dumps both cups into the recycling bin.

Caleb places his palms flat against the countertop and takes a couple of deep slow breaths. He looks to the clock on the microwave, noting almost absently that it reads 3:24am. It’s wrong and he’s going to need to fix it. Not now, but later maybe. He’ll remember. He always remembers.

His head is like a steel trap and he wishes it were not the case. The alcohol softens it, blurs the edges, or blots it out, if he tries hard enough.

He wishes he could forget the sounds of Astrid’s soft moan and Wulf’s breathy laugh from behind a closed door when he had arrived back from classes the evening before. They must have known he was home, heard the front door, the clatter of his keys in the dish, the tramp of his booted feet on the stairs. Neither of them greeted him, asked him in.

He thought he would try to work at least, put on his headphones and opened his laptop. He still heard the headboard knock and rattle against the wall. He couldn’t stand it, had to leave. Most of the night after arriving at the pub is a blur. It doesn’t erase the events before.

Caleb drums his fingers on the countertop. Once. Twice. The clock reads 3:36am. In the next room, Fjord is silent.

-

Fjord doesn’t move when Caleb leaves, at first. After a minute or two, he extricates his phone from his back pocket and taps idly through his social media, likes a couple of Jester’s selfies and watches what he can only call a truly bizarre Instagram story from Nott with piles of buttons and out of focus video in a dim looking wine shop. Sometimes he finds it’s best not to ask.

Eventually he hears Caleb’s shuffling steps leaving the kitchen, then the unmistakable quick thuds of feet heading up the stairs.

“Cay? Caleb? You doin’ alright?” Fjord wonders if the coffee has made him sick, wouldn’t write off the idea. There is no slam of the bathroom door though, no retching, just the muffled clatter and thud of Caleb moving about in his bedroom. Fjord waits.

When Caleb appears a scant few moments later, he does so with an apologetic gesture, a small tin tucked into one hand and a lighter snug in the palm of the other.
“I’m going to smoke. Do you want to?” His blue eyes are steady through the tangled curtain of his hair and Fjord knows if he says no there’ll be no offence taken, no issue. He doesn’t want to say no though, not a bit.

“Sure.” Getting to his feet, Fjord follows Caleb’s lead as he opens the patio door, smacking a little at it to dislodge the door as it sticks, sinking down outside to perch on the step down into the box garden.

Caleb looks small, hunched there with the little tin open atop his knees, deft fingers rolling a joint with the ease of practice, even though they shake a little. Fjord settles beside him and tries not to be so conscious of the brush of their arms and the way Caleb shivers a little in just his tee shirt.

“Sharing?” Fjord asks as Caleb cups his hands around the sparks he throws off the battered little lighter, the joint held unsteadily between his lips. He glances at Fjord, raising a brow as he inhales, waits a beat and exhales, smoke drifting slowly from his nostrils and between his lips. It makes him look like some kind of dragon, a strange otherworldly little thing perched on this shadowed, dirty back door step. Fjord must smile because Caleb echoes the expression, just a little, chapped lips twisting in amusement.
“Ja, sure, if you like.” Caleb takes another small drag before offering Fjord the joint, their fingers brushing as he takes it. Caleb’s hands are cold.

The smoke hits Fjord’s lungs with the taste of sweet, hot ash and an earthiness that lingers on the back of his tongue. He coughs a little as he blows it out again, laughing.

“Shit. It’s been a while, don’t laugh.” Caleb is laughing, continues to, an almost silent thing, soft little huffs of breath with his tired eyes gone soft and a smile on his lips, tucked like a secret into a dimple on his cheek. Fjord is so very glad to hear him laugh.

He thinks, maybe, he would prefer the loud, joyous musicality of it more free, but there is something about this soft thing that is so small and quiet Fjord could tuck it beneath his tongue to savour for later.

Clearing his throat, Fjord offers the joint back to Caleb pinched between thumb and forefinger. Caleb watches him a moment, making no move to take it, wrinkling his freckled nose.

Fjord doesn’t press, just waits and is taken aback as Caleb moves. It’s not that he moves fast, quite the opposite. It’s this lazy shift of long limbs, unfolding to stand as Caleb adjusts to face Fjord and sinks back down, placing his knees on the cold stone either side of Fjord’s thighs and settling as a solid, easy weight on his lap. Nothing about it feels strange. It’s easier than sitting inches apart, side by side, had been, more at ease.

Fjord holds the joint out of the way, his other hand finding its place on Caleb. He doesn’t know that he quite means to, but Fjord’s thumb finds skin beneath the worn hem of Caleb’s tee, rubbing circles on the bony protrusion of his hip.

Caleb’s reaches for the joint, Fjord presumes, but instead he feels cool fingers grasp his wrist, draw him in. He watches Caleb take a drag and the damp brush of his lips against Fjord’s fingers feels intimate, electric, the brief hollow of his cheeks all show. Fjord wets his lips and thinks about kissing Caleb until neither of them can breathe.

The way he leans in, Fjord can only assume Caleb thinks he might startle away or not want it, and both are so far from the truth. Caleb angles his head, coming so close their noses brush, his palm a steady point on Fjord’s jaw. His thumb coaxes gently against Fjord’s lower lip and he opens his mouth a fraction wider, feels the digit press against his growing tusk a little.

Fjord knows what Caleb intends, realised from the moment Caleb sat down astride his lap like he belonged there. He breathes in as Caleb exhales, warm and easy. Something about it is more intimate than a kiss would be, but Fjord craves the press of their mouths now in a way he didn’t before.

Caleb doesn’t lean back when Fjord goes to take a drag himself, stays close, the cold tip of his nose brushing Fjord’s cheek as he turns to inhale. Fjord cups Caleb’s cheek to angle things himself this time, shivering not from cold, but at the way his broad palm curves around Caleb’s pale cheek, thumb settling at the corner of his slightly reddened parted lips.

He shotguns the smoke lazily, though all he wants is to kiss, to tighten his hands and pin Caleb to the cold hard surface of the back doorstep they’re sat on.

-

Shuddering, Caleb exhales, close enough to feel Fjord’s own warm breath. He doesn’t know who closes the gap, but they kiss, once, twice, three times, lingering barely-there catches of damp lips on lips. He can feel Fjord’s tusks a little and he likes it.

“Y’good?” Caleb feels Fjord speak in a burr of vibration against his mouth.
“Better,” he concedes, allowing Fjord to lift the joint to his lips. Caleb inhales. In the midst of the breath, he takes stock of his hands, finding one curled into fabric at the neck of Fjord’s hoodie, the other stroking the half orc’s cheek as he half presses and half kisses the smoke into Fjord’s open mouth.

It’s easy to trade smoke back and forth in hazy, curling, white breaths and half kisses, open mouth brushing open mouth. Caleb doesn’t recall Fjord dropping the burnt down stub of the joint to the floor, but he must’ve, because one hand cups Caleb’s face and the other winds around his waist and he’s soft . Caleb knew he looked soft.

Fjord is warm too, and Caleb finds himself seeking it out, cold fingers traversing the difference between the neck of Fjord’s hoodie and the warm back of his neck where his hair is clipped short. Caleb strokes against the grain to feel the soft, fuzziness of it against his palm and seeks out more skin, delving his icy fingers beneath the layers to find Fjord’s belly, skin like a furnace beneath his clothes.

Caleb is jarred from his exploration and kisses both by Fjord’s indignant yelp.
“Cold, yer hands are cold , Cay, Gods. How ‘bout we get inside, yeah?”

Caleb is not interested in protesting that line of thought, the only reason he himself had not crawled back inside to the comfort of meagre heating was not wanting to leave the warmth of Fjord’s arms. Fjord makes the decision for them both, shifting his hold and getting to his feet with bent knees and an unwieldy stagger, Caleb clutched in his arms up off the floor.

They don’t make it to the sofa, stumbling down onto the floor just inside. Caleb hears the door close more than he sees it, hears Fjord’s foot kick it back and give it an extra nudge to have it wedged closed once more.

Sprawled out on his back beneath Fjord, Caleb drags the half orc down into a kiss and this time there’s nothing reserved about it. Though slow, Fjord’s mouth on his is hard and focused, tongue delving between Caleb’s lips, greedy hands settling on his hips and rucking up the baggy tee he wears. Caleb arches up into the pressure and hums in pleasure at the slow radiating heat.

Fjord’s lips drag from his mouth to his cheek, then below the line of his jaw where his beard peters out, sucking a little. Caleb palms the back of his skull, pressing his mouth there more insistently.
“There, there’s good, bitte-” Fjord sucks harder and Caleb feels the scrape of teeth, thumping his head back down dully against the carpet, a lazy throb of arousal slipping through his veins at the feel of Fjord’s teeth on him. “Fuck,” he breathes, closing his eyes a beat and shuddering contentedly. Lower, his cold fingers slip beneath Fjord’s hoodie once more, finding the radiating heat even warmer beneath the snug skin warm layer of a cotton tee. He feels Fjord shiver, but not let up his slow, sucking, biting kisses.

Distracted, Caleb experimentally drags his blunt, bitten down nails across Fjord’s back. It earns him a muffled sound, surprised and pleased, and the hitching grind of hips against his. This is so much better than trading kisses on the sofa in the middle of some party.

Caleb knows how this works, spreads his thighs to accommodate the bulk of Fjord between them, cants up against him in a sweet, lazy seeking of friction and heat, more heat.

Fjord’s kisses have made a path that aches from Caleb’s jaw down to his collarbone and Caleb can feel the way the neck of the tee is being stretched out to accommodate Fjord’s roaming mouth. He can’t help the lazy curl of a smirk that spreads across his mouth at the thought of giving it back to Wulf ruined by someone else’s hands on him. It’s a little vindictive, but it stokes the slow burn of pleasure in Caleb’s belly, makes it glow brighter, hotter.

He feels like he has a right to his anger, to his frustration. Gods he hates that he can still hear the bang of the headboard against the wall like an echo. Fuck them. Fuck them both. Or not, as it seems, fuck Fjord instead.

The laugh that bubbles up from Caleb’s lips is disarmingly sweet and he can’t help but grin at Fjord’s perplexed expression as he lifts his head to meet Caleb’s eyes.

Caleb rubs his thumb over Fjord’s cheekbone and grins lazily, staring at the disarray of his friend, swollen mouth and rumpled hair. It’s a good look on Fjord, soft and well kissed.

-

“You laughin’ at me Cay?” Fjord isn’t offended really, even if Caleb is laughing at him. Fjord smiles down at Caleb as he giggles, his copper bright hair spread around his head in a tangled halo, a lock of it across his forehead in a little curl.

Caleb doesn’t respond, so Fjord kisses the laughter from his mouth, bears down over him like he can cover every inch of Caleb with his own body. Caleb responds with a fervour that has Fjord moving his hands, squeezing Caleb’s waist, invading the stretch of skin beneath the absurdly ill fitting tee he has on. Fjord’s thumb grazes the pebbled nub of Caleb’s nipple and the man beneath him arches like touch is electric.

The movement is sinuous, rolling, lazy misaligned friction that coaxes a groan from deep in Fjord’s chest. He answers the movement in kind, feeling Caleb’s hardness through the baggy worn fabric of his tracksuit. Fjord’s own jeans are rapidly becoming a source of regret, too snug and restrictive, no room to move.
“We doin’ this?” He pauses their kisses to murmur against Caleb’s mouth, thoughts hazy, the blue of Caleb’s blown out, eyes the clearest damn thing. To punctuate his point, he pushes his hand down between them, palms the hard shape of Caleb. It punches a little ‘ah’ of surprised pleasure from him, pale lashes fluttering a little, mouth opening.
“Ja, yeah, if you want to? I want to.”

Fjord nods, wetting his dry lips and fumbling with the button on his jeans. Caleb huffs a laugh again, leaning up to kiss him. Fjord follows the kiss down, feels Caleb’s smile against his mouth, feels Caleb’s cold hands brush against his belly on their way down, nudging his own hand aside to undo the button and push down his fly with the maximum of contact, knuckles grazing over where he’s hard. Fjord’s breaths escape him short and harsh through his nose. When Caleb’s hand works its way inside Fjord’s jeans and strokes the length of his cock through his boxers, Fjord groans.

For the first time since they began, their kisses become something else, intent wrapped up in the slick play of their tongues and teeth. Caleb switches tactics to push at Fjord’s jeans, shifting awkwardly beneath him to shove them down, but Fjord grasps his intent as Caleb does the same with his tracksuit, leaving only the thin, sweat damp cotton of their boxers between them.

It’s good, heat and friction multiplied. Fjord can feel himself overheating in his hoodie, but cannot bring himself to pull away from this, not with Caleb sprawled beneath him making soft swallowed down high sounds in the back of his throat each time Fjord rocks his hips, angles their hard cocks together in a messy grind.

Fjord inhales sharply. It all feels easy and slow and hurried all at once, pleasure building like a wound spring in his gut whilst every part of him moves too slowly to catch up.

Fjord scrapes his teeth from the collar of Caleb’s stretched out tee to his jaw and Caleb chokes out a moan that has Fjord’s hips driving forward in a jerk. It’s thoughtless, a movement spurred by the visceral pleasure of the sound that escapes Caleb.
Fuck Fjord, ah- you- c’mon. Bitte. ” Caleb is hoarse, quiet, words almost slurring together in his distraction.

Caleb’s cold fingers shift from Fjord’s skin, delving between them in search of more and he doesn’t know why, but Fjord grunts out a low“No,” nosing at Caleb’s jaw. Caleb stops, instantly, and fuck if that doesn’t do something to Fjord. The half-orc makes a sound of approval.
“Why not?” Caleb’s voice is breathless, questioning but not annoyed. Fjord doesn’t know why. Maybe he simply wants Caleb do go at his pace, whatever that is, maybe he just wanted to know if Caleb would obey, likes that Caleb obeyed.
“ ‘Cause I asked.” Fjord sucks another red mark on Caleb’s throat just to hear the other man moan. “Move your hands…” Fjord’s request is not demanding, not forceful. Caleb obeys it nonetheless, shifting his hands from between their warm bodies even as Fjord continues, testing where their boundaries lie. “Put ‘em above your head for me, Cay.” The way Caleb’s eyes fly open, round and dark as black holes, limned in sweet sky blue, has Fjord’s belly twisting in nerves beneath the haze and the arousal. The feeling fades, morphs into a familiar deep satisfaction and dark pleasure as Caleb does what Fjord asked, resting his hands above his head on the carpet, one cupped, palm up, in the other.

Fjord wets his lips and settles his own hand atop them, covering them almost entirely, pinning them in place with no small pressure.
“Okay?” Fjord asks. His heart thuds hard against the cage of his ribs and he searches Caleb’s face. Beneath him, Caleb arches a little, lightly tests Fjord’s hold on him, exhales a shaky breath and near whines as he rolls his hips up. He looks so unkempt and lovely, pinned there for the taking, willingly pinned there. The knowledge of that has Fjord burning from the inside out, delving his own hand between them in search of touching bare skin.

Fjord fumbles a little, his touches misaligned, thoughts scattered and spun out wispy and sweet like candy floss. He gets where he intends to eventually, both his own and Caleb’s cocks a little out of their boxer shorts so he can curl his hand around and hold them together, palming the wet heads. Caleb’s hips jerk and he whines, loud, the sound trailing into a whimper that sounds as though it’s torn from him.
“Scheiße, bitte, please, Fjordfjordfjord-”

Fjord gasps against Caleb’s pale freckled stretch of neck as he ruts his hips, driving them both towards more wet, messy friction. Caleb’s own movements attempt to align with his, a little off beat, but every sweet drag of the sensitive heads together makes Fjord tremble.

-

Caleb comes with a wordless shout, and his mind goes blank.

He thumps his head back against the floor, jerking beneath Fjord’s solid, warm weight and feeling his whole existence collapse inward between one breath and the next. He’s floating. He’s falling.

He feels Fjord follow him in the slick messy touch of a hand covered in Caleb’s own come as it twists and strokes around them both. Caleb is oversensitive and still shuddering through the aftershocks and the touch makes him whimper. Fjord moans his appreciation against Caleb’s mouth and kisses him, again and again.

Caleb can feel Fjord’s small growing tusks, kisses back, lazy and exhausted, brushing his tongue against his friend’s with easy little teasing touches. It’s not teasing really, but Caleb’s body has the agility of a sandbag and kissing even this much is all he can do. Fjord grumbles something vague and slows their kisses to a halt, pressing one to the tip of Caleb’s nose.

It feels strange and Caleb cannot help but wrinkle it, bemused and not entirely focused on the situation, mumbling a worn out little “Das war… es war gut.”
“Y’know I don’t speak Zemnian, Cay,” Fjord mumbles as he rolls off Caleb to lie beside him on the floor. Doing so, he removes his hand from atop Caleb’s, allowing them movement, and though Caleb could bring them back down, he doesn’t, just stretches up until his shoulders pop a little then brings them back to their same place.

Caleb is sure they make a picture, sprawled on their backs with their trousers down, soft dicks peeking from their boxers. Fjord reaches and absentmindedly wipes his dirty hand on Caleb’s tee.
“You can wash it, I gotta walk home in mine.” Something about the delightful irreverence of Fjord unknowingly wiping his come covered hand on Eodwulf’s stolen tee shirt has Caleb chuckling, closing his eyes slowly and blindly patting Fjord’s arm.
“It is not mine, it’s Wulf’s.”

Fjord snorts a small laugh of his own.“Well fuck,” Fjord manages after a beat, “I guess that’s alright then. He’s an asshole.”
Caleb’s smile dims.“Ja, he is rather an asshole, you are correct.”

Beside Caleb, Fjord sighs. “You wanna… talk about that?” Fjord’s offer sounds genuine, but Caleb cannot think of anything worse, shakes his head.
“Nein. Please not now.” Caleb neither sees nor hears a response form Fjord, but he takes that as a positive sign.

Without a word, Fjord gets up from beside him, hitching up his jeans one handed and exiting the room. Caleb hears the bathroom door open and the sound of running water.

Though it feels like it should be impossible, he gets slowly to his feet, tucking himself back into his boxers and padding out and past the open door to the downstairs toilet, heading up towards his room. He sources wet wipes, cleaning off the mess and stripping out ofWulf’s shirt. He tosses it on the floor, zipping on a hoodie over his bare skin. The metal zip is cool when it brushes his chest.

Caleb heads downstairs and thrusts the packet of wet wipes silently towards Fjord, who looks grateful, abandoning the damp ball of toilet paper he was attempting to use. Caleb leans against the bannister, watching almost detachedly as Fjord cleans himself, swiping the wipe over his rich green skin as he removes traces of their fooling around

Even doing something so mundane, Fjord looks good. Caleb fails at trying not to notice it.

Part of him wonders if he should tell Fjord to go home, send him away with a kiss and a promise to see him later in the week, but Caleb has a fierce ache in his chest that he thinks might overwhelm him if he is left alone. He knows himself, he’ll drown his feelings and wonder why he can’t breathe anymore half a bottle down. Caleb is not unaware of his shortcomings, merely unwilling to address them.

Caleb doesn’t speak as he reaches for Fjord when the other man is done, taking his large warm hand and tugging him back through the lounge and out onto the back step.

They don’t need to speak to find their rhythm, settling down on the cold concrete in a distorted echo of their not even an hour past selves. Fjord welcomes Caleb into his lap and Caleb sits sideways, tucking his head in close.

Cold fingers roll another joint. When his hand shakes too much to hold the lighter steady, Fjord takes it from him, sparks it until the paper catches, cherry blooming bright and hot. The gesture has Caleb’s chest tightening and he burrows close, taking a drag and blowing the smoke out. His eyes prickle with wetness so he closes them.

“I have an essay to research,” he murmurs, wets his lips, takes another drag. He feels Fjord press a kiss to the top of his head, feels the arms around him tighten a fraction, snug, secure and warm.
“I know, but you can give yourself five more minutes.”

Caleb nods a little and exhales. “Ja, okay. Five more minutes.”