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Lukas is all warmth, soft breathless kisses and apologies, always so full of apologies, as he crawls over and on top of Philip. It’s past midnight and Lukas was supposed to be home hours ago. In between studies and their respective new friends, it’s been hard to elbow out much time together – or at least for Philip to elbow out time with Lukas – who has always remained and will always be the warm popular center of their universe.

So it is so easy to start an argument, to jab and duck and swing away. And when they were younger an hour here and there didn’t seem that bad – there were other things to snap and bite about. And it may be counter-intuitive to fight, sure - but it also doesn’t work to let everything slide.

So he stiffens, pushes back against the weight of Lukas’ body, and sets his jaw. Lukas pulls away, slightly amused, but his eyes are cautious. “I said I’m sorry.”

“I’ve been waiting forever.” Philip says, the words are not true, but they are also true and sitting up, he reaches for his cigarettes, pushes them into his jacket and pulls it on. He wants Lukas to recognize these signs as him getting ready to leave. And it’s not that he’s going to leave, but he wants Lukas to see, to feel that he has the option. Even though he doesn’t, not really.

It works. Lukas’ eyes dart and there is worry there now – real worry. Fear, maybe even.

“You’re seriously going to leave. Because I was a little late. Where are you going?”
His hand is strong, a firm grip around Philip’s arm, and pulling him down – jerking – desperate. “Let go.” Philip snaps, pulling his shoulder to the side and Lukas stands up, still taller, still bigger, and still apologizing. “Calm down, okay. Just sit down. I missed you.”

All they’ve been doing these days is missing each other. In every sense of the word.

“Why are you late?” Philip asks, his voice even but the thickness rising in his throat. Why does he always have to wonder, worry, that in the end nobody will turn up. Why does he have to be the one to worry? Why does he have to be the one to wait?

“I just lost track of time” Lukas says it like it’s actually a valid excuse – like it’s the best excuse – like it’s innocent. It sets off every fucking trigger and he is so unaware, as he stands there, blonde and beautiful, sincere, of his devastating cruelty.

So maybe he will leave and Philip pushes past Lukas with a hard shove, before immediately getting caught by those hands again. “No, no. Come on.” Lukas is placating and Philip knows that trying to push back physically will not be as effective as an emotional push back. “Nah, I’m done with your excuses. I’m done.”

And when he says it, maybe he is done, maybe that heavy part of his soul, the part that keeps on warning him not to get in deep – always have an exit strategy, maybe that part is right. And then at Lukas’ face, the abject disappointment there – he has to look away. “That easy?” Lukas asks, stripped of any bravado now, any humour.

“You’re just done?” He says more than he asks it, and with a waver that Philip knows well by now – the honest tremble of defeat.

“We haven’t really talked in days, Lukas.” Philip tries, forcing himself to meet those eyes. “The little time you can spare between your classes and your fucking friends doesn’t cut it.” He knows how it sounds, blunt. But he’s been malleable for too long, he’s allowed himself to be pushed into this corner. “We’re not kids anymore.”

Not much has changed, actually , since they were kids. They had to grow up faster than their peers. They had to claw their way to the surface of a world way to adult and too dangerous for them. Their shared experience brought them closer but in many ways also highlighted their differences. Philip was never going to have a soft bed of friends to fall back on. Philip was never going to just be sure that Lukas would be waiting for him even if he was hours and hours late. Whereas Lukas was bestowed with the opposite of that. So yes, it sounds blunt – but the time for gloves is long past.

Lukas pulls his hand away, “Why does it always have to be a fight? I’m a little late and I get treated like a fucking criminal” exasperated – his go-to “I don’t need this” put upon – as usual. The old push and pull is like muscle memory and Philip can almost hear the doors of his heart shut in rapid succession – thudthudthud. He doesn’t need you.

“Well fuck it, then. Don’t stop me.” Philip leaves and he can hear Lukas flop down on the bed with a frustrated “Fuck it then” in retort.

The air outside is cold and it cuts right through his jacket. He should have taken his old, thicker jacket. He should have taken a bag. He should have cleared out. It’s seven years down the line. He should stop fooling himself. Anger fuels him until all that remains is a waning bitter flame of self-pity.

He sits on the edge of a bridge until boredom and cold forces him to move. He forgot his phone so he can’t even entertain himself. Around half past four he finally meanders back to the apartment – hungry and too tired to gripe anymore.

The sun is already coming up when he opens the door of the apartment. The lights are on and Lukas yanks him inside violently, angrily, crushing him to his chest – his voice shaking with livid concern. “What the fuck? You left your phone here, asshole! What if something happened to you?”

Lukas’ body, his scent and voice folds around him like every good memory from childhood, their teenage years, the elation after horror, their first kiss, their first time. He closes his eyes and breathes Lukas in.
“I’m sorry I was late.” Lukas says, not lessening his grip around Philip. “I’m fucking sorry, I’m so sorry. Don’t ever leave like that again.” It’s comical actually – since they have broken up for a brief spell – thankfully over before it caused serious permanent damage. And he knows that the breakdown, the waterfall of care won’t last – he’d have to shake it loose again at some point – but it does feel good to be held so tightly, so tight that it is impossible to slip away.

“It’s okay, you dick.” Philip mumbles, smiling against Lukas’ neck.