Actions

Work Header

Lappel du Vide

Chapter Text

Wilson could hear the voices of his fellow survivors as he bolted for the forest. They were calling to him, he thought, but he wouldn’t have stopped even if they were screaming for him.

He just couldn’t face them like this. Not with tears of shame and heartache rolling down into his stubble. He was probably being childish and reckless as he ran out into the woods on his own, but he didn’t care.

Maxwell.

The manipulative bastard!

His lungs begged him to stop, and as he slowed to a walk he heaved with the effort of an activity he was not built for. Running was never his strongest suit, but right then he felt like he needed it.

Plopping down against a large pine, the bark dug uncomfortably into his back, but he didn’t care. He looked up at the sky and wondered for the millionth time if this place would be the death of him. It certainly had succeeded in his death on multiple occasions, but this was different. He was used to running for his life or scraping by with food. But there were a handful of things that had always kept him going.

The camaraderie between himself and his fellow survivors, the fresh rains during the heat of summer, and memories. Memories of a time before the constant and before all of…this.

Memories of Maxwell.

Of course everything had started with Maxwell.

The first time he had spoken to Wilson through the radio Wilson had thought he’d finally gone mad. Sure he was a bit of a recluse, but hearing voices? That had scared the living daylights out of him.

“Say pal” the voice had said, sending Wilson flying out of his chair in fright. The voice laughed, and continued with, “Looks like you’re having some trouble?”

“Er…no? I…failure is all apart of the process,” he replied, wondering if replying to a disembodied voice made him a Mad Scientist instead of a Gentlemanly one.

The voice laughed again, and before the scientists eyes a dark ooze, yet not quite solid enough to be considered so, crawled out of the speaker of his radio. Fear gripped Wilson’s heart, but curiosity made him stay where he was as a figure formed from the odd smoke.

“How about I lend a hand?” The figure stood poised like a gentleman, tall and straight, and Wilson marveled.

It was like nothing he had ever seen before! A living, talking shadow?

“You…you’re like a shadow,” Wilson said as he scrambled to his feet. Up close he could even see facial features. Sharp and hawk-like cheek bones and nose made the man terribly imposing.

“Of sorts. I have a deal for you Mr. Higgsbury. I have a…hm machine of sorts that I need built. You are the only one for miles around that has the ability to complete it,” the shadow made a grand gesture, and at the time Wilson was so flattered that he had forgotten to ask how the shadow had known his name.

“It is the likes of which you have never seen,” the shadow continued. “I’d like to share a secret knowledge with you, and in exchange you will build my machine for me. If you think you’re ready for it?”

And Wilson had fallen for it. Hook, line, sinker, and the whole damn fishing pole.

Leaning his head back against the tree, Wilson watched the clouds move past in a lazy drawl.

After Maxwell had forced knowledge into his eager brain Wilson had gotten to work, but it wasn’t an instant process. The machine had taken over a month to build thanks to Wilson’s already limited resources, but he hadn’t been alone. The shadow had introduced himself as Maxwell, and had insisted on overseeing the building of his precious machine.

Wilson hadn't put up a fight. After all the man was a delight to have in his home. Sharp as a whip and on par with his own intelligence, Wilson had never had a man like Maxwell in his life.

When Wilson was too exhausted to continue work for the day, or when there was a lull as they waited for supplies, they would talk. Wilson, who had always had trouble connecting with regular folk, found himself talking with Maxwell for hours. Long after the sun had set and risen again, they would talk. Even laugh.

Once Wilson woke up covered in a blanket he had not fallen asleep with and he knew that was the beginning.

When they shared their first kiss, that was the end, and Wilson longed for that bliss. That simple life of waking, building, talking, and simply existing with Maxwell by his side.

The soft snapping of twigs caught his attention, but he didn’t bother looking. Only a few of his friends could snap twigs that softly. He was hoping it was Webber, the good-natured boy liked to help others who seemed upset, but alas it was not.

“Why are you sulking our here in the woods?” The man of his current turmoil said with the air of a man who was merely inconvenienced rather than concerned.

“Fuck off Maxwell.”

The man sputtered, and Wilson reveled in the small victory. Now that his tears had dried up all that was left was a bitterness he wasn’t used to feeling.

“I beg your pardon? What’s gotten into you Higgsbury?”

Taking a deep breath, he turned his head to look up at the man. The man that used to hold him, used to…

“You…you really don’t remember do you?” He asked, feeling that tightness in his chest again upon looking at the man.

Maxwell sighed, sounding both irritated and defensive.

“Yes. I truly don’t. My memory’s from my time on the Throne is foggy at best. I remember intentions and my own creations better than I remember any certain events. I don’t understand why you’re acting this way.”

The man seemed truly at a loss, which was probably a first for Maxwell. Always in control and smarter than everyone else…suddenly the Nightmare King was left so clueless that it made Wilson want to laugh.

“Tell me,” Wilson started as he stood and dusted off his trousers. “Does the phrase, ‘I wish you were real’ ring any bells?”

The brows on the other man furrowed, but apart from looking irritated he didn’t look like it had jogged anything.

“Should it?”

Wilson scoffed, genuinely offended and barked, “Yes! Yes it should you heartless ass!”

Maxwell looked taken aback, and frankly he should be. Wilson would have even been surprised at himself if he had been in the right mind.

“You, you came to me, and, and you stayed while I was finishing your dumb machine! For almost two months you lived with me and you don’t even remember it?”

For the first time since his arrival Maxwell looked spooked, almost nervous, by Wilsons outbursts.

“Uh I--”

Wilson cut the man off, raising his voice as he started to pace and said, “I told you everything! You were kind to me, and witty, and, and you said these things that let you burrow yourself right into my brain!”

Maxwell was quite for a moment while Wilson caught his breath. He wasn’t an angry man, he really wasn’t. In fact he was known to be quite forgiving. But this…this whole thing made him vulnerable and stupid.

“What are you saying, Higgsbury?” Maxwell asked, and his voice was so calm and even. But that was how Maxwell always was. Show no emotion and it couldn’t be used against you. Wilson knew that very well.

Rubbing at his stubble, Wilson felt tired from his tantrum. His eyes felt heavy and itchy.

“In nearly every sense of the word…We were lovers Maxwell,” Wilson croaked as his emotions began to rise again.

“We’d work, talk, kiss by the fire and you’d tell me stories,” Wilson said with no small amount of fondness. It was some of his happiest days.

“I admitted once,” he went on saying as he played with the frayed ends of his gloves. “That I wished you were real. You held me and said, ‘I’m as real as it matters.’ That…that kept me going for a long time in this damn place. I cherished those words and…”

He trailed off, both because he didn’t know what to say and because he was too embarrassed to shed more tears in front of the other man.

Maxwell remained quite and for a bit Wilson was kind of afraid to look at him. Was he disgusted? Angry? Maxwell was a proud man and Wilson didn’t put it past him to deny something simply because he couldn’t remember it. But the silence finally won out, and when he did look up at the magician he was regarding him quietly. In that same way in which he read his dark book. A quite look of contemplation and cunning.

“I can see why you’re so upset,” Maxwell finally said with a surprising amount of understanding in his voice. It wasn’t what Wilson was expecting. “If what you’re telling me is true, then you are well within your right to be angry with me.”

It was hard to hold onto anger for a man that looked genuinely guilty. There was a look in Maxwells eyes that Wilson had never seen before, and his thin lips pressed into a grim line.

“For what it’s worth Higgsbury…I’m sorry. I truly don’t remember anything,” he continued, raising his hand as if to place it on Wilsons shoulder but thinking better of it, and letting it fall to his side.

“I…I know it’s not your fault. I really do. But it…” Wilson sighed in defeat. “Is there anyway to jog your memory? Any way for me to know that it was…real?” He pleaded. He felt desperate. Desperate in a way that even starvation didn’t hold a candle too. It was strange feeling so wholly dependent on another person for emotional comfort. But Wilson had found that in Maxwell once, and now that he’d had that kind of happiness he didn’t want to just throw it away.

Maxwell sighed through his nose.

“I’m sorry. I doubt it. While on the Throne I have no doubt that I was completely lucid, but after my release and hence there after, my memories have slowly begun fading. It is not like your normal amnesia. Magic is a fickle thing and I doubt those old thoughts will ever come back to me like they do in books or stories,” Maxwell said finally and Wilson felt his eyes want to well up again.

“B-But I read that stimuli can often jog ones memories! Magically induced or not, amnesia is still amnesia!” Wilson said as he grabbed ahold of the taller mans lapel.

Maxwells eyes flicked to Wilsons hands, no doubt taking offense to the wrinkling of his coat, but Wilson didn’t care. He’d wrinkle a thousand shirts if it meant he could have the Maxwell that he had fallen in love with.

“...You aren't going to let this go are you?” Maxwell asked, to which Wilson responded with a sharp shake of his head.

After another long sigh, Maxwell said, “What do you purpose then?”

What did he purpose? It wasn’t like Wilson could take Maxwell back to his workshop and hope the familiar scenery would jog his memories. He would have to make due with the Constant and…his own actions maybe? Yes that could work. It was his best bet anyway. If it didn’t work then…he’d deal with it.

“I’m gonna kiss you,” he said, steeling his resolve.

“Excuse me?” Maxwell balked, his sharp cheeks coloring.

Wilson shrugged, using his grip on the mans coat as leverage to keep the other from pulling away--which he looked like he severely wanted to.

“It’s all I’ve got Max. There’s nothing else besides telling you every detail of our time in my cabin, and I doubt that’ll work. It’s the only--would you quit leaning away! Jeez you’re acting like I’m gonna bite you,” Wilson grumbled as the man was doing his best impression of a disinterested tree. Rigid and tense, Maxwell looked like he was gonna try to flee at any moment.

“You gotta help me here…” Wilson said as he gave Maxwells coat another tug. “You’re…you’re too tall,” he murmured as his own cheeks flushed with warmth.

Maxwell looked like he was seriously reconsidering his life choices. Wilson couldn’t tell if it was because he was disgusted in some way or just plain awkward. Back then their first kiss hadn’t been like this. But back then they had been comfortable, sitting in Wilsons cabin with weeks of bonding under their belts.

“Please?” Wilson tried again, hoping he didn’t sound too desperate. But he certainly felt it. The urge to lunge at the other man was very present, but he put that feeling down.

Maxwell didn’t say anything for a long moment. His eyes darted between Wilson and something that must have been very interesting off to their right.

What Wilson didn’t expect was for the man to do as he asked. His eyes averted, Maxwell leaned down to Wilsons much shorter height, his cheeks darkening in a way that did not suit his demeanor.

He had the urge to thank him, but felt that if he did then he’d give Maxwell a chance to back out. He sought the opportunity and took it with only a little hesitance.

As their lips pressed Wilson felt a jolt of emotion. More solid sure, and the smell was very different, but those were the lips that kissed on him so long ago. He felt like he could cry. He didn’t know what he was expecting honestly, but all in all it felt good. Good to be kissed and close to another person, even if said person felt as tense as he looked.

Unwilling to shorten what was likely to be their only kiss, Wilson lingered. Moving his lips in a subtle way without deepening the kiss into something more intimate. He didn’t think it appropriate to stick his tongue down the other mans throat, no matter how much he really wanted too.

When Wilson pulled away he felt like his soul was ten times lighter. He felt giddy even, and as he opened his eyes he regarded Maxwells expression. Unlike Wilson, the magician must have opted to keep his eyes open, and also unlike Wilson, Maxwell didn’t seem to be as pleased--but his face always looked like that. He had a firm look, and Wilson felt a little foolish as he took a step back.

“Well?” Maxwell asked, startling Wilson.

“Well what? Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”

“Was it as you remember?”

That made Wilson pause, but he nodded giving a soft, “Yes” in response.

Maxwell took a step back as well, and straightened his coat with a sharp movement.

“Hopefully that will put some things out of your mind for now. The sun is setting,” Maxwell said, gesturing to the sky, and Wilson was startled to see the sky cast in pinks and oranges.

“Come on Higgsbury,” Maxwell turned on his heels and started back for camp.

“Maxwell?” Wilson called, startled.

The magician stopped, and looked back over his shoulder.

“Are you….was that okay?” Wilson asked, fiddling with his gloves.

Maxwell said nothing for a moment, but as he turned back and started to walk slowly toward camp Wilson barely heard him say, “It was nice Higgsbury…come, we’ll talk more on it later.”

Wilson stood there in shock for a good second, before breaking out into a jog behind the older man. His heart feeling both light and fluttery at Maxwells words.

A promise to talk. That didn’t come close to the closeness he craved and yet…

It was a promise none the less.

He had left the camp in tears, but now he found himself returning to it with a smile.

He hoped that ‘talk’ would come soon.

Chapter Text

The talk that Wilson expected didn’t happen for longer than he would have liked. The cruel world known as the Constant was ever changing, and to expect the unexpected was the name of the game. So when large sink holes appeared in the middle of camp, destroying a few of the farms and one of the tents, they had to spend the better part of a week cleaning it up and repairing the damage.

The work made it easy to forget the impending conversation, but Wilson still cast a glance over toward Maxwell at every opportunity.

The man never lifted a finger if he didn’t have too, and he rare had to. With his dark book in hand, a few shadows did the work of ten men and never tired. They cleaned up the mess faster than anyone else, and that put alot of minds at ease.

The way the shadows moved though, for Wilson, brought back old memories. He had always wondered if that shadowy visage of Maxwell that had come to him in his cabin had been a shadowy projection. Maxwell had insisted that they were not the same thing, but Wilson was skeptical.

After all they looked and acted just the same save for a notable personality. Mindless little workers, Maxwell had called them. Wilson was courteous to them none the less.

As the heat of the sun caused everyones energy to drain, the days felt like they drug on, and they took frequent breaks under the shade of the conifers. It did little to quell the smoldering effect that plagued this time of year, but it was a hell of alot better than baking in the son.

“Ugh I wanna die…” Wilson whined to no one in particular as he laid face first into the crunchy grass.

Beside him Willow laughed, taking a seat next to him and looking as comfortable as a spring daisy.

“You’re being over dramatic,” she chided and Wilson could hear the smile in her voice.

“Easy for you to say miss ‘born from fire’,” he shot back and only got another laugh for his efforts.

“You’re in a couple of layers arent you?” She asked, and Wilson lifted his head to look at the woman. “Take some of them off?”

A decent suggestion if not for one problem.

“Have you seen my skin? Willow I’d burn to a crisp without my clothes,” he dead panned. He could feel his skin ripping apart just thinking about it.

“Oh…a fair point. Guess you’ll just suffer then!” She chimed, giving her beloved bear a kiss and making the animal wave its paw in Wilsons direction.

Wilson rolled his eyes, but he smiled. Willow was his first friend here in the constant and she had always been his closest. Her love of fire was a bit odd in the scientists opinion, but they all had their vices.

Wilsons was honey. A far less destructive--and yet just as compulsive--habit.

“The sun will set eventually and my suffering will end, at least for another day,” Wilson said as he rolled onto his beck. Crunchy or not, it was always nice to lay in the grass after a hard day.

“At least it’s better than winter,” the woman gagged on the word.

To their right a call from Wolfgang. He had caught some rabbits earlier that morning and had prepared them ‘in the old way’. Whatever that meant. But food was food! And as both Wilson and Willow made their way into camp they teased each other over their inability to cope with the elements.

That night, as the sun set, they all sat around the camp in a comfortable silence. One by one they all went to their tents until Wilson was alone. Not uncommon considering his sleep habits, but normally Mrs. Wickerbottom would kept him company. He swore that woman never slept.

“Keep staring into that fire long enough and it may do a trick,” a voice from behind him startled him nearly out of his boots.

“D-Damnit Maxwell!” he clutched his chest while the tall man laughed at his expense. “I need to put a blasted bell on you!”

“And rid me of the pleasure of your skittish nature? I’d rather not,” the man hummed as he sat down on the same long Wilson occupied.

Now that his heart was at a reasonable level, he eyed the man curiously.

“You’re back early,” he stated and Maxwell held his hands infront of the endothermic fire to cool them.

“Yes. I concluded my business earlier than expected. Fortune favored me I suppose.”

After the sinkhole incident Maxwell had informed the troupe that he was leaving and may not be back before the end of summer. No one questioned it--at least not too heavily--but no one argued that it had been odd. Maxwell was a lonesome man but he did not like traveling the wilds unaccompanied. It was far to dangerous to go alone even if you were once the King of Nightmares.

“Where did you even go?” Wilson asked, looking back toward the fire in the hopes his face didn’t show his relief to see the man unharmed. Everyone was fond of telling Wilson he worried too much.

“To the Oasis Desert,” Maxwell stated, and Wilson was shocked he got a straight answer.

“The desert has an oasis? What was it like? Was there a big lake or any new fruit?” Wilson asked, leaning forward in his seat.

“Yes, rather nice once you get to it, yes, and no. As nice as its title sounds it is more or less an empty lake with more baubles in it than anything edible. I see that gleam in your eye, so no. It is not worth it trust me.”

Wilson huffed, placing his cheek into his palm.

“Well why were you able to go? Don’t you think we all could have benefited from such a place?”

Maxwell placed another small log into the fire, and the blue flame roared with a cold puff.

“Pfft of course not! I couldn’t even begin to tell you how terrible it was to even get there, let alone stay for any length of time. You’re smarter than that Higgsbury. Do you honestly believe something in this place is called an ‘Oasis’ and wouldn't have some form of hardship attached to it?”

A fair point. The constant was rarely straightforward and even if it seemed that way, it was more often than not a terrible trap.

“If it was truly that terrible than why did you go?”

Maxwell removed the satchel from his hip and retrieved something from it before tossing it to Wilson.

It was an odd spiky stone, but it shone in places as if it were a gem. As Wilson moved it between his hands he marveled at how little weight it had and at how the stone held a subtle warmth to it even after undoubtedly being in Maxwells satchel for days. It felt like it had just been warming in the sun.

“Oh wow,” he cooed as he held the stone up to the fire. “Where in blazes did you find this?”

“I happened upon it. They are failures all things considered. Orange gems that never formed properly, but they may have their uses. I brought a few you can play with.”

Wilson looked away from his new toy to regard Maxwell. Was this the man being lazy and wanting Wilson to do more work for him or was this a genuine gift of good will? Wilson adored new things to tinker and play with, everyone knew this, and lately his hands have been burning with the desire to fiddle.

Instead of prodding or insinuating nefariousness as he may have in the past, he accepted the stone for what it was and thanked Maxwell.

The older man huffed, pushing his satchel toward Wilson in a way that begged Wilson not to call attention to his kind gesture, lest the others start thinking better of him.

Heaven forbid anyone see Maxwell with any form of humanity.

The constant might implode.

As the fire dulled to a soft crackle Wilson couldn’t help but note the silence. It wasn’t heavy, per say, but it certainly wasn’t comfortable. He was very well aware why.

“I feel your eyes on me Higgsbury,” Maxwell said suddenly spooking the scientist.

“Yeah well….you’re the only thing around,” he stop back but that only rewarded him with an unamused brow raise.

“Bullshit. You’ve been looking to get me alone since your breakdown in the woods,” Maxwell stated as Wilson scoffed in offense.

For all intents and purposes it was a breakdown, but Maxwell still shouldn't have said it. Rude asshole.

“Fine. I was trying to be polite but I guess we’re doing this now,” Wilson said, agitated at Maxwell’s nonchalance attitude.

“Hmm I suppose we are”, Maxwell stated as he pulled a carrot from his coat and placed it over the fire.

And thats how they say for a good few minutes. Maxwell carelessly cooking his carrot and Wilson wondering if anxiety could be a cause of death. He had so much he wanted to say and almost none of it should be uttered outloud in the middle of camp. But Maxwell was right. Wilson had been looking for an opportunity to get him alone for weeks and now here was his chance. He swallowed the lump in his throat and decided the best course of action was to go for it.

“Do you think we could ever have that again? What we had back at the cabin?”

Maxwells head snapped to him, before he sighed and went back to poking his carrot.

“Right for the kill, eh Higgsbury? Didn’t think you had it in you honestly.”

Wilson felt his cheeks darken but he didn’t let his resolve waver.

“Answer the question Maxwell.”

Maxwell sighed, and actually turned to give Wilson his full attention.

“What do you want me to say?” He started in a rather somber tone. “Or--a better question--what do you want me to do? Take a moment to consider my point of view. To say I’m being put on the spot is an understatement.”

Wilson looked away in shame. Of course he understood. He wasn’t stupid. He knew very well how Maxwell was likely feeling about the whole thing, but he still couldn’t help but want. For once in his life he was allowed to be selfish and happy and not have to consider the consequences. Now that he’d had a taste of it, it was very hard to give it up.

“I’m sorry…I really am,” Wilson began as he plucked a loose string from the hem of his shirt. “I don’t mean to be acting so selfishly. I just…I miss you Maxwell.”

Wilson looked to the side and saw Maxwells hand there, and for a moment he desperately wanted to hold it.

“I told you. We were lovers. Partners and I enjoyed your company. We’d talk for hours when there was nothing else to do, and you’d spend hours upon hours each night trying to convince me that magic was real.

“Even after the machine sucked me into the constant I was under the impression that we’d see each other again. I was confused of course but…the memory of you kept me going. I wanted to find you more than anything.”

It felt both gratifyingly freeing and terribly stressful to unload whats been on his mind. It felt weird opening up to such intimate feelings, but beating around the bush was getting them nowhere.

Maxwell had gone silent--likely letting Wilson talk, but the look on his face was troubled.

“Can I ask what’s on your mind Max?”

The older man huffed through his nose, then pinched his bridge in a way Wilson had seen him do many times before. Usually only when he was frustrated or tired. Wilson felt bad for stressing him like this.

“I’m…merely thinking. You claim we were truly that close? How long did this go on?”

Wilson shuffled the dirt around his shoes.

“A month or two. No more than two and a half. I know you don’t care to get to know many people but I would hope that you would know that I am no liar.”

“Yes yes…you’re a terrible liar,” Maxwell said dismissively, but Wilson couldn’t help but smile at the familiarity of those words.

“So,” Maxwell said suddenly. “If I were to acknowledge this…whatever this is, what would happen? You never answered what you wanted from me.”

That was surprisingly easy to answer.

“I’d want us to be in a relationship again,” he said, wanting to laugh at the utter shock on the other mans face.

Wilson continued on to say, “It would make the Constant a little less terrible, I think. And you seemed happy at least to my eyes. I’d like for us to be happy…at least for a little while. You know, until I trip over a thick branch and snap my neck.”

The sudden dark humor made Maxwell snort. That was always a sure fire way to lighten the mans mood. It didn’t seem to work this time, though.

“And if I refuse you? What would you do then, Higgsbury?”

A weight settled on Wilson. It had been something he both never wanted to think about, and yet couldn’t help but think about, ever since his ‘breakdown’ in the woods. It hurt to think about. To know that happiness was so close and yet never attainable. It would make the Constant even more hellish than it already was, but hopefully only for a little while.

“I’d…I’d get over it. I’d leave you be and…I’d never bring it up again,” he said without full conviction. But he was a big boy. He’d manage. He’d have to if he wanted to survive, or live long enough to help his friends survive in this place.

They shared a heavy silence for a long moment. Long enough that Wilson had to add another log to the fire, and Maxwell had to fetch his carrot before it burned.

“Higgsbury?”

Wilson chanced looking over, and was relieved to see only a passive expression. Wilson has always held onto this fear of angering the other man, though he wasn’t entirely sure why.

“I’d like to make a request of you.”

Wilson blinked, startled but willing as he replied, “Sure Max. What is it?”

Maxwell stood, towe4ring above the sitting scientist and regarded him with a guarded look.

“Give me a few days to…process this. I feel like I have some things to say about all of this, but I would like time to form my thoughts.”

Wilson balked at the polite tone, as if Maxwell was truly asking for permission. This was coming from the man that cackled on the sidelines while his ‘friends’ waded through waist deep mud in the search for reeds.

“I…yes! Yes of course!”

Maxwell nodded, bid him good evening, and just like that he was gone, disappearing into his personal tent.

As gratifying as it was to finally speak his feelings, that felt anticlimactic. Maxwell’s swift exit left Wilson to deal with all of the awkward air they had created. It would be torture to wait, especially if Maxwell ultimately decided that he wanted no part of this.

But he was a big boy.

He’s lived through much worse.

And besides, if that was the case he could always sob like a baby on Willows shoulder. She was a kind girl. She’d never think twice about it, Wilson was sure of that.

As he looked up at the lightening sky he knew he’d never get to sleep at this rate. He may as well start the day early before the sun awoke to bake them all.

Chapter Text

“It looks like a turd.”

“Thanks Webber. I can always count on you for your excellent observational skills,” Wilson deadpanned while the spider-child giggled.

Wilson had acquired the skill of working with his hands early on in his life. He had always been crafty and interested in taking everything apart. His mother always had to shoo him out of places he did not belong for fear that he would start taking everything apart. His father, on the other hand, had enjoyed his sons enthusiasm, and even encouraged it. He had bought Wilson a set of blocks that locked together in different shapes. It was a simple gesture that gave Wilson the inspiration to pursue science and engineering.

Unfortunately it had done nothing to help his lack of artistic skills.

“What’s it supposed to be anyway?” The child asked, laying on his tummy in the grass under a tree nearby. It was far to hot to try to stay in the sun for too long, and unfortunately evening was hours away.

“Well I’m trying to make an oven. We’ll need it come spring and it’ll help keep out fires lit longer,” Wilson supplied as he stood from his kneeling position. His back protested, and as he wiped some sweat from his brow he was sure he added to the mud thats been there since this morning.

Wilson had the brilliant observation that their fires just never lasted long enough. By the time they had a good fire going their had exhausted their meager wood pile. Cutting down trees was back breaking work and during the heat of the summer it was near deadly. Poor Woodie was currently bed-ridden in his tent with a terrible fever. Wickerbottom surmised that it was from over-working, and while everyone tried to pitch in it just wasn’t enough. Woodie was their best chopper, and with him out of commission everyone was going to have to settle with less.

“What would an oven help with?” Webber asked, playing with some silk he had attached between two of his clawed fingers.

“Well it will keep out fires safe from rain and wind, and it will let us have an oven for cooking. I think everyones tired of roasted things anyway. Wouldn’t you like some oven baked berries and honey?”

Webbers eyes practically sparkled.

“I thought so,” Wilson laughed and continued his work.

The dirt around the mosaic biome had a rather large amount of clay mixed in. When wet, the dirt could be packed with twigs, grass, and other bindings to make a crude wet cement. Once dry, it was a hard as a brick. Stack and pack the mud in molds made from rocks and bam! Proper bricks. They seemed sturdy and relatively water resistant especially when heated. After they make their first fires Wilson surmised that it would harden on the inside and require very little maintenance for quite a while.

There was only one problem. Mixing the mud by hand, shaping and stacking, had left Wilson absolutely filthy and tired beyond all measure. He smelled heavily of sweat and musk, and he was certain he’d offend anyone if he were to stand upwind.

Clad only in mud and his trousers, he had been working on this damn thing all morning. Thankfully it as almost finished.

“Webber? Would you mind going and getting helping Wendy water the crops? I can finish up here.”

The happy spider bounced up and trotted away in the direction of the farms, happy for something to do other than make fun of Wilsons hard work. Webber was a sweet kin but Wilson just wanted to finish his work and be done with it--and for the option to curse should the need arise.

With his workspace now silent, Wilson was able to finish his new oven in peace. As he placed the past brick and filled in the cracks with extra mud, he stood back and admired his handiwork. It did not look like a turd. In fact thanks to the shape of the bricks it looked like a proper oven. Little half circle opening and all. It was very quaint and crude, but damn if it didn’t look good. It was the most modern looking thing in their camp and Wilson couldn’t have been anymore proud!

But…he could certainly be more clean. His arms were caked with mud up past his elbows and his legs weren't fairing any better. He may be suffering from a sun burn tomorrow but at least he would only have to wash his pants instead of his whole outfit.

Chuckling at the terrible state he was in, he wiped his bangs from his forehead and gave himself a mental pat on the back.

Good job Wilson. The title genius didn’t come lightly!

Now for a bath. Lord above he needed a bath. It was still relatively early in the evening, all things considered, and the sun wouldn't set for many hours. Tired and eager to get comfortable in time for supper, Wilson grabbed his nearby spear and backpack and made away from camp.

It was a short walk through the shade of the pine trees to a large pond. It was the nearest source of water aside from the well he and Wolfgang had dug many months prier, and it had once been teeming with frogs. It had been an annoying place to try to get water from actually, at least not until Wendy had spent an entire day there and when she returned she ominously stated that the frogs would never be coming back.

They never have, and while everyone was thankful for the new source of water, Wilson was far more afraid of Wendy now than he had been.

As expected the lake was still and calm. Shaded by the trees, it was relatively full and as clean as any lake could be. Wickerbottom had advised that no one drink from the lake, so most of them used the water for bathing and watering the crops.

The state of his trousers was simply unfortunate. They clung to his nethers and chafed his legs as he peeled them off. Mud had caked to the pant legs and made for hopping out of them to be quite a challenge, and after nearly falling twice he managed to rid himself of his filthy confines.

The muck felt thick between his toes, but the coldish water immediately soothed any trepidation he had about entering the water. He may have been a fully grown man, but it was hard not to flail into the water like a child just for the sheer joy of the act. The water itself only came up to Wilsons thighs, but it was a blessing none the less.

Squatting in the mildly murky water, Wilson just enjoyed the feeling of all of his tires and aches just washing away. It was a far cry from a hot bath in a metal tub but it would have to do. Maybe that should be his next project? A bathtub…now that would have him hailed as a hero, not just a genius!

Smiling at his own musings, he got to work picking the dirt off his body. Lord how did the mud even manage to get into these places? And the state of his hair! He looked like an absolute mess.

The mud came off quickly, but his hair was another story. Frayed and oily, it would take a long while to get that clean. Thankfully, though, he had a salve made from a concoction of his own design that was a great solvent, and as he stood and turned to make his way back to his backpack to retrieve it Wilson nearly had a heart attack.

“Fuck! F-Fuck it all! I need to get you a damned bell you silent bastard!

Wilson clutched his chest as Maxwell just stood there looking pleased with himself. He hadn’t heard him approach let alone seen him standing not nine feet away from him. As his heart rate slowed Wilson wondered how long the other man had been standing there.

Living in the wilderness with multiple other individuals made modesty a very overrated thing. In his first few months here he had already seen Willow topless in order to help patch a wound on her side, and Wolfgang was very fond of simply going clothesless during the wetter times, but despite this Wilson still felt his stomach flutter in embarrassment. He turned to his side, at least shielding his nethers from the others oddly steely gaze.

“Did you need something Maxwell?” Wilson asked after an odd moment of silence. The man seemed…bothered? He hoped nothing had gone wrong back at camp, but he was certain that Maxwell would have acted with more urgency if that were the case.

“Why are you out here by yourself?” Maxwell finally asked, ignoring Wilsons question.

Wilson blinked, startled by the firm tone.

“Uh…bathing?” He offered, gesturing to the lake.

The man seemed unamused and rolled his eyes.

“Aren’t you the one always whining about us pairing up before we go anywhere?”

“Well…yes where the women and children are involved. And when it’s necessary. Its perfectly safe this close to camp and I had plenty of time before sundown,” he explained and went back to picking the mud out from under his nails. Maxwells eyes were starting to make him nervous. The polite thing would be to turn his head and yet Maxwell just continued….staring.

Wilson was not a self-conscious man, but the intensity in which Maxwell was staring was doing things to him. Long ago he would have given anything to be under such intense scrutiny by the man of his heart, but now it served to only raise his anxiety levels.

It also made blood flush to places it wasn’t welcomed. Namely his face and his…erm. Well. That’s certainly embarrassing.

Wilson quickly knelt back into the water to prevent the embarrassment of getting visibly aroused in the other mans presence. Wilson already felt terrible enough for vying for a man that cared little for their past. He didn’t need further evidence that Maxwell was displeased by him.

He’d been avoiding Wilson for a week now. Besides the odd comment or acknowledgment Maxwell hadn’t spoken to Wilson since their last encounter by the fire, and Wilson was fairly certain that Maxwell had not only come to terms with his feelings toward Wilson and his proposal of a new relationship, but that he was also against said proposal.

Wilson had been expecting the let down any day now, but he hadn’t thought it would come while he was stark naked and smelling like a lake.

“So!” Wilson continued despite his inner turmoil. “As you can see I am perfectly safe and should definitely continue my bath.”

He hoped that Maxwell may get the hint, but instead Maxwell leaned against a nearby tree and crossed his arms like he meant to be there for a while.

“Fine. Finish up so we can get back to camp before they eat all of dinner,” Maxwell stated. His eyes told Wilson not to argue, and while he normally would put up a fuss he just didn’t have the courage.

He tried to wash up as best as he could with the other man still idly watching. Wilson felt terribly exposed and made haste. He wasn’t as clean as he would have liked, and frankly he had been looking forward to some alone time in the cooling waters. But with the Maxwell seeming intent on making Wilson suffer, he didn’t linger.

Flying out of the water like it was made of fire, he dressed in fresh clothes from his pack in record time and heaved a sigh of relief. As stressed as he was right now it was still an amazing feeling to be in clean and soft clothes.

“Well,” Wilson cleared his throat as he gathered his soiled trousers into his bag. “Shall we?”

Maxwell pushed away from the tree and followed Wilsons lead through the woods. He expected some sort of comment, some start to the inevitable conversation that they needed to have, and yet it never came. Maxwell continued to say nothing until they were within the camp. There he proceeded to speak to the groups matriarch in regards to dinners progress.

Wilson was thoroughly baffled. If this was one of Maxwells mind games than he surely lost because he didn’t get it. Was Maxwell truly looking out for his well-being? Or was this some sort of payback for all of the trouble Wilson had put the magician through this season?

Wilson had no idea, and he pondered on it well into supper and past it. It was a hearty stew and both his body and mind seemed to need it hearty meal. Everyone ate a generous portion, and as idle chatter around the fire died and everyone retreated to their respective tents Wilson was one of the first to leave the fire pit.

While normally he was one of the last to leave, today was taking its toll. Both his physical efforts and the mental strain with his earlier encounter with Maxwell, coupled with the terrible loneliness he had been feeling over the course of a few weeks had drained him. Even with a full belly he couldn’t stand to be upright any longer, and he made his way into his tent with slumped shoulders and a limp grip on his lantern.

His tent was modest in size and consisted of only a couple bedrolls for padding and a small clear section of dirt for where he kept his tool chest. It was still a habit to try and live minimally, but ever since he had grouped up with the others he had found himself making more permanent structures and fixtures. It was nice to have a tent big enough to sprawl out in compared to the tiny one he had to share with Willow during his first season here.

Setting the lantern safely aside and flopping into the blankets, Wilson groaned in bliss. His tent may smell slightly of beefalo, but right now it felt like heaven. And while his brain was still a little too occupied with todays events his body relished in the rest.

From where he was he could hear the rest of the survivors bid each other goodnight and turn in to their respective tents for the night. Nights were short in summer, and everyone made the most of their respite from the heat by turning in early. It wasn’t long before silence overtook the camp save for a few snores, and as Wilsons mind began to drift away he felt his eyes getting heavy.

A sudden noise jerked the scientist awake. Wilson had no idea how long he had been asleep. Judging by the heaviness of his limbs and the still far too bright light from his lantern, he judged that it hadn’t been long.

"Higgbury?”

It was the second time that day that Maxwell had scared the shit out of him, but this time thankfully he at least had his clothes on.

“Maxwell?” He asked, blinking at the man kneeling in his tent flap door, and blinking the sleep from his eyes. Unlike himself, Maxwell seemed wide awake.

“May I come in?”

It seemed so absurd for Maxwell to ask as if he were coming into another mans home--and not just a tent in the middle of the night--that Wilson chuckled in spite of himself.

“Um…yes? Please do come in and don’t mind the mess,” Wilson joked and it actually made Maxwell smirk. A victory in his book.

“I was hoping you weren’t asleep yet,” Maxwell said as he came into the tent and knelt down onto the bedding. It didn’t leave much room for them both this way and with the gentle light of the lantern illuminating Maxwells sharp features Wilson had to admit the intimate atmosphere was affecting him.

He certainly felt more awake.

“Well the Constant has many gifts to give and one of those is the gift of learning to be a light sleeper,” Wilson mused as he rolled onto his back to get a better look at the man.

“But I digress…did you need something?” Wilson continued, folding his hands across his stomach and watching as Maxwell shifted to sit with his legs out in front of him instead. The man had such long legs and Wilson took a moment to marvel at them. Long and thin was a great way to describe Maxwell as every part of him exhibited both features. It was those traits coupled with Maxwells natural charisma that made him impossible to ignore in any circumstance. Even now he commanded the space and it made Wilson feel so small.

“Yes actually. Now that we’re as alone as we can be in this place I would like to speak to you regarding your…request.”

Now he was really awake. Wilson could only nod for fear that he may speak wrong and spook Maxwell into prolonging this for even longer.

“I have….thoughts,” Maxwell continued and Wilson wrung his fingers, suddenly nervous.

“I have been in this place for far longer than I would have ever liked, both on the Throne and freed from it, and there has been few constants despite this world being ironically named as such. You are one of the few beings that I remember with startling clarity when compared to other things. That being said I still do not remember the relationship you spoke of nor my feelings on the matter,” Maxwell said as he looked distantly at the nearby lantern.

“But I do know a few things for certain, Higgsbury. I have been unnervingly drawn to you since the very beginning and it is something I have always questioned. I assumed it was because you were the most adept at surviving. Thin as a twig sure, but you are intelligent and resourceful in way that the others here can not even compare. I assumed it was this wit that had garnered my attention but now I wonder if it was something else entirely, for there has always been an underlying emotion in me whenever I think of you.”

Wilson laid there, frozen, and intent on listening to Maxwells every word, but then became frozen for another reason entirely as Maxwell moved and placed both hands down on either side of Wilsons head. At this angle, with the taller man looming over him, Wilson felt effectively like a trapped animal. That oddly intent look was back in Maxwells eyes and it pinned Wilson in place stronger than any physical weight.

He didn’t dare move as Maxwell lent down, and as he felt the warmth of Maxwells breath brush his face he felt his own air stall in his throat.

“When I was on the Throne it was an overwhelming urge to tame, to break. After you released me it…was something different. An obsession that I couldn’t deny and no matter how well I tried to keep you at an arms length you continued to wiggle your way back into my space. It wasn’t until your kiss that I realized exactly what I was feeling,” Maxwells said, his voice dulling to a low timber that was making Wilson’s heart do backflips in his chest. He had never once heard Maxwell sound like this.

“What was it you were feeling?” Wilson whispered before he could stop himself. Up this close he could see that Maxwells eyes were not black as he previously suspected, but in fact a ruddy dark brown. They had beautiful red tones in the lantern light.

“Lust, Higgsbury,” Maxwell said and Wilsons whole body shuddered. “A lust I had effectively kept at bay until you had come along with your proclamations and teary admissions. You have started a flood that I can barely contain as it is, and knowing very well that you don’t want me to contain it does little to help. I had come to you today to deny you. Break your heart now to avoid the heartache that was likely to come later…and what do I find?”

Breath ghosted his ear as Maxwell leaned in closer as if he were to press his face into Wilsons neck, but he stopped just a hairs width away.

You. Dripping wet without a care in the world. Happy even…” Maxwell said right into Wilsons ear and it pulled a small whimper from the scientist.

This…this was nothing he ever expected. His heart hammered and his breath had quickened. All he could do was grip the wool, blanket below him and stare up at the tent ceiling while his mind wholly focused on his warm Maxwells body was when it was this close to his own. A moment he had always craved on cold nights by himself.

Swallowing the thick lump in his throat, Wilson found his voice.

“If…if you’ve felt this way then why didn’t you say anything?”

Maxwell pulled away to stare down at him and Wilson found himself missing the warmth immediately.

“And then what? We lived happily ever after? That doesn’t work here Higgsbury. It ends in one of two ways: one or both of us dying in some terrible way. With luck we die together. Without it one of us will suffer for the rest of our lifetime. Losing someone in this way is a terrible burden. Do you truly want to end up this way? Alone? Because that is the only way that a relationship with me would end,” Maxwell asked, anger rising in his voice although Wilson had a feeling the anger was directed toward him.

Through the fog of his own lust and excitement Wilson realized something.

Maxwell was afraid.

“Max,” Wilson spoke softly, rising onto his elbows. “Its in human nature to want to survive. By any means necessary sometimes. But surviving on your own is just that--surviving. It…it would heart if I lost you. Even if you had died yesterday I would have mourned you but that doesn’t dull my memories of you.”

He hesitated, but only for a moment, and he placed his palm on Maxwells cheek. Through that cold and hard gaze there was a man that was afraid of losing. Afraid to gain anything for fear that this terrible world would rip it away and leave him with nothing but bitter resentment for having found happiness in the first place.

It nearly broke Wilsons heart.

“Even if we die tomorrow…wouldn’t you want to be happy at least for the time that we were here? I want to see you happy,” Wilson said as he rubbed his thumb over the apple of Maxwells cheek. His firm cheekbones always looked so sharp and pronounced and yet the skin there was surprisingly soft. Maxwell’s face remained unreadable but his eye contact was unyielding.

“I wasn’t lying when I said we were lovers…because I did love you then, and I even love you now. It’s okay to want to be happy, Maxwell.”

Maxwell inhaled deeply through his nose and averted his eyes for the first time that evening. It was hard to tell exactly what the other man was thinking, but Wilson could tell that he was upset at whatever thoughts that were plaguing him.

“God damnit Higgsbury,” Maxwell growled, and before Wilson could get another word out the other man smashed their lips together.

The kiss was far different than the one they had shared previously. It was consuming and overwhelming in the best of ways, and it pulled a whine out of Wilson almost immediately. He had never seen this side of Maxwell. Not ever. During their time in the cabin Maxwell had been rather sweet all things considered, and never showed this much aggression during their bouts of hunger for each other.

But he wasn’t unwilling in this, and as Maxwells tongue came into play he opened his mouth willingly and yielded control over to Maxwell.

As wonderful as the kiss was, Wilson still felt starved of contact. Maxwell was far to far away, and he remedied that by wrapping his arms around the older mans neck and pulling him down with him as he laid down flat. Above him, Maxwell growled, hot air escaping through his nose, and responded in turn my palming Wilsons stomach.

The summer air may have been hot, but that didn’t stop Wilson from shivering as Maxwell lifted his shirt to run his clawed hand all over Wilsons abdomen. No spot was left untouched, including Wilsons chest. Those claws tickled as they trailed over his pectorals, and elicited a sharp gasp from him as they intentionally pinched one of his nipples.

Wilson had no idea he was this sensitive, but then again maybe he was this sensitive because it was Maxwell who was doing all of the touching. Everywhere the mans hand went it left a trail of fire in its wake that had Wilson panting and squirming.

Wilson broke the kiss first, gasping for air, though the heated air of the tent did nothing to cool him off. They hadn’t even done anything yet and he already felt like he was baking alive in his own skin.

As he caught his breath Maxwell busied himself with wet and hungry kisses along Wilson’s neck and stubbly jaw. Maxwell was acting like a starved man, and Wilson was both overwhelmed by it and painfully aroused by the show of dominance. He tugged at Maxwells jacket, wanting more than anything for it to be off and yet not having the mental power to say it aloud.

The hand on his chest suddenly dipped lower, cupping his straining erection through his trousers, making him hiccup and buck into the blissful sensation.

“Would you like me to do something about this?” Maxwell panted, grazing his teeth over Wilsons adams apple as the scientist swallowed dryly.

“Y-You don’t have to. I…” Wilson barely could form a coherent thought, let alone a well formed sentence.

“Are you certain? Because I’d love to watch you squirm.”

Wilson whimpered, bucking into the mans devilish fingers. How dare he be so calm and collected during all of this. Wilson was still in shock at the proclamation that Maxwell has lusted after him in the first place. His brain hadn’t caught up this far, and while the pressure on his nethers was absolutely wonderful, he was not a man that liked to make a habit of thinking with his dick.

“If this is something you want,” Wilson started after a deep breath to settle his thoughts. “I would like it very much actually…”

“Good,” Was all Maxwell said before the connected their lips once more.

This time the kiss was less urgent. Slow and languid, but just as deep and consuming. Maxwells hand slid away, but before Wilson could complain he replaced it with something much more satisfying.

It took a bit of adjusting, but Maxwell laid so that their bodies aligned and pressed together. It was much for gratifying than Maxwell hovering just to the side of him, and Wilson immediately took advantage of their newfound closeness. His arms went back around Maxwell’s neck, and he captured Maxwells legs with his own.

It felt perfect to finally have Maxwells body pressed against his own. He’d always longed to be held this way even back in their days at the cabin. Wilson had always regretted Maxwells shadowy form back then. Lacking the majority of a body--he was only able to manifest from the waist up in some instances--they couldn’t be close like this. Sure they could kiss and cuddle close, but there was always something missing. The warmth, the beating of another heart and the harsh sounds of another pants were notably absent then.

Now he could feel Maxwells chest rise with his own, feel the heat pouring off the mans broad back, and feel a similar hardness pressing against his own. That had to be the most arousing part of it all. Knowing that not only was Maxwell telling the truth, but also that he was just as affected by this whole ordeal as Wilson was.

Jerking their hips together, that earned Wilson his first noise from Maxwell. A deep grunt that ignited a fire in Wilsons belly. Maxwell returned the motion, and it felt downright sinful despite the fact they were both still fully clothed.

As their erections pressed together it became a heated dance of bucking hips and roaming hands. Maxwell became preoccupied with Wilsons chest again after pushing up his shirt as far as it would go, and Wilsons hands slipped up to grip at Maxwells hair. It was fine, and surprisingly soft and well maintained just like the rest of him, and Wilson had the irresistible urge to pull it.

Wilson would have been content to orgasm in his trousers like a horny teenager, but Maxwell it seemed had other plans. Making just enough space for his hand to wiggle in between them. This time, though, Wilson was treated to the shock of Maxwells hand just slipping inside his trousers instead of outside them. The sensation of Maxwells hand directly on his member made him groan--perhaps a little too loudly all things considered but Maxwells mouth did a good job dampening the sound.

Maxwell pulled his member free, exposing it to the muggy air and pumping it in a way that made Wilson see stars. Maxwell was far too good at this, and quickly had Wilsons mind in shambles. He couldn’t think, he couldn’t catch his breath, and despite his fast approaching orgasm he never wanted it to stop.

“W-Wait,” Wilson gasped in between kisses and fumbled with Maxwells pants. “You too?”

Maxwell grunted in acknowledgment and shifted away just enough for Wilson to undo his pants and pull out his member as well. Though he had never really openly fantasize about Maxwells dick he could safely say that it was meeting all of his expectations. Thin, and a bit on the long side. It decidedly suited Maxwell and Wilson was open in his worshiping of it, rubbing and stroking it in a way that mimicked Maxwells talented hands.

Their panted grew ragged an neither of them could keep up the kissing any longer. Instead their breaths mingled as they gasped and groaned, each trying to keep it down while at the same time unable to stifle their appreciation. Wilson in particular couldn’t stop the slew of profanities that were coming out of his mouth. The pleasure and emotional satisfaction of it all making him more than overwhelmed.

Wilson didn’t know who came first. Probably him considering how worked up Maxwell had gotten him before they had even began. All he knew was that as soon as he came, Maxwell wasn’t close behind and he felt their combined seed splatter across his exposed stomach. It was probably one of the fastest orgasms he’d ever had, but it was easily one of the most sexually gratifying. Tensions had just been far to high for far too long, and Wilson didn’t think he would have had the patience for anything less than animalistic rutting.

As their breathing slowed, Wilsons mind cleared and he registered the comfortable weight of Maxwell atop him. The man was surprisingly light despite his wide shoulders, and Wilson could have easily slept like that. Exhaustion set into his muscles, and as Maxwell sat up and away from him he could do nothing more than whine at the loss of the weight.

Even in the dying light of the lantern, and through a post orgasmic bliss, it was not hard to miss the guarded look on Maxwells face as he regarded Wilsons state. Blissed out and covered on cum, he probably looked quite a sight.

“Are you okay?” Wilson mumbled, wanting nothing more than to reach for the other man a kiss that frown away.

Instead of saying anything, Maxwell retrieved a rag from his coat pocket and politely cleaned Wilsons stomach for him. Wilson blushed at the gesture, and tried not to giggle as the rag tickled his side.

“Is it weird?” Wilson tried again as Maxwell discarded the rag in an unused corner of the tent.

“Perhaps a little,” Maxwell mused and eyed Wilson as the scientist wiggled over to make more room on the bedroll.

The bedroll much have made for an enticing sight because Maxwell only made a few grunts of annoyance before settling down beside Wilson. Normally Wilson would have asked before he snuggled up to Maxwells side, but in this case he felt that it was needed. A reassurance that Wilson was willing to be by the other mans side, and more than happy to be there to boot.

The gesture wasn’t lost on the other man as, after only a little awkwardness, he placed an arm around Wilsons shoulders.

“This is a mistake you know,” Maxwell grumbled.

“Probably,” Wilson mused and buried his nose into Maxwells pectoral. “But if it makes you feel any better I don’t really mind.”

Maxwell snorted. He was fond of doing that around him Wilson noticed.

“Of course you wouldn’t. I don’t think you’ve ever used forethought in your entire life.”

“I use plenty of forethought. I just chose to ignore it for favor of seeing the outcome,” Wilson said with a nod before adding, “besides…lack of forethought let me feel our arms around me. I don’t see that as a loss.”

“Hrm…yes well…I don’t normally behave this way. I think you’re the only man alive that can put me so out of sorts.”

Wilson hummed and glanced up at Maxwell, a smile pulling at his lips.

“Well…maybe next time we can take our time?” Wilson suggested hopefully.

Maxwell had been staring up at the roof of the tent, but turned his attention to Wilson with the same guarded expression as before.

“You are far too trusting….and far, far too forgiving. You know that right, pal?”

Wilson laughed, wrapping his arm around Maxwells waist and pulling him close. In the morning it would be miserable for such contact so he was soaking it up while he could. Morning was likely to come soon by the sounds of the birds outside.

“Hey Maxwell?” Wilson said as sleep started to take hold of him. He felt more than heard Maxwells acknowledgment in the form of a grunt.

“I love you,” He grumbled. “You don’t have to say anything back.”

Warm and sated, Wilson was the most comfortable he had ever been in the Constant. So enclosed and safe. He just felt like he could sleep there forever.

And just as sleep took a hold of him and pulled him into the deepest sleep he’s ever managed, he heard a soft rumble in his ear of Maxwell saying, “Good night, Wilson.”