It's a small room in Stephen's castle in Spain, one of the few that is mostly intact, although even here there is flaking plaster, and a broken window, which they'd stopped up with old rags. There's a big four poster bed pushed up against the wall, looking old and bare, as the curtains have long since fallen and been removed, and it's clothed in a single large quilt. The only other furniture in the room is a small desk, and a wicker seated chair, beside which they'd piled their few meager belongings.
Stephen walked into the room holding in his hands a cloth, and a small bowl of honey and lemon juice, with a spoon. He stopped in the door and considered the large form sleeping - finally peacefully sleeping - in the bed at the other end of the room. Jack's snores rumbled through the air. The noise, usually irritating, was somehow comforting in this peaceful setting, with the late evening sun pouring into the room, and the quiet of Stephen's country surrounding them. It was a reminder that they were safe, that they could rest.
Stephen set the bowl on the table and covered it with the cloth, and softly crossed the room to stand next to his sleeping friend. He looked at him with a professional gaze, taking in the sweat cooling on his brow, and the flush beginning to fade from his face. He sat next to him, the bed dipping, and laid his hand on his forehead. The fever had gone. Jack stirred, and leaned his face into the touch, and Stephen moved his hand down to cup his cheek. Jack looked so peaceful like this, Stephen thought. Somehow he looked different when he slept at sea, always barely alert beneath his sleep. Now his face betrayed no glimpse of consciousness, his brow was fully relaxed, his cheeks puffy and mouth slack. His yellow hair was damp with sweat and streaming across the pillow, and the slight blush across his face made it altogether a touching sight. Stephen felt a twist in his chest, and was uncharacteristically moved. He was filled with a strong protectiveness and care for his friend, and he brushed his thumb in a soft motion back and forth along Jack's cheekbone. He almost wished he could stay like this, in a preserved state of calm, without the stress and rush and worry guaranteed with this new outburst of war, of the responsibility and terror and action that was bound for him in the near future. Stephen sighed and lifted his hand from his face, and turned around to undress. He might as well get some sleep, now that Jack seemed to be on the mend. After removing his shoes, and all his clothes save his underdrawers, he slipped under the quilt and lay down next to Jack. It was quite warm, the quilt trapping the evidence of Jack's recent fever, and Stephen sank into it. The bed was big enough for one person to sleep with quite enough room, but with Jack taking up easily more than half, after Stephen made himself comfortable there was barely a centimeter between them, and Stephen could feel Jack's cool skin ghosting against his arm with every rumbling breath. He looked at Jack's face again, which had turned toward him when he'd climbed into bed, and thought, at least they have this, this brief respite from the tumultuous world outside. As he drifted off he thought he felt an arm wind around his shoulders, but before he could be sure, he fell into a deep sleep.
The night passed uneventfully, aside from a short there-and-gone shower of rain that fell unnoticed sometime before dawn, and the two entwined figures in the bed hardly stirred, having fallen into a deep sleep, still recovering from their recent ordeals.
As the sun began to peek over the hills surrounding the castle, and throw out stretching arms of light to dance around the countryside, the little room turned blue and the window glittered a little white and a little gold. The gentle light seemed to seep through Jack's eyelids and softly brought his mind to a half wakefulness. He sighed as he became aware of a comfortable weight in his arms, and the even rhythm of his bedmate's breath. His eyes fell slowly open to rest on the peaceful scene surrounding him, and on Stephen's face on the pillow beside his own. The light barely lit the room, but it was enough to give a dim halo to his friend's face, casting his rough features into a pleasant profile, setting individual whiskers to stand out against his jaw, and accentuating the slope of his throat and the curve of his shoulder. Jack smiled, and lay quietly for some time, content to stay in this moment, admiring the sight and enjoying the feeling of the warm body in his arms, skin on skin, Stephen's hand curled around his wrist, their breath rising and falling in sync and their hearts beating together, almost audible in the quiet room. Jack was filled with a calm but strong affection, and he felt moved to do something about it. As he was contemplating running his hand through Stephen's hair Stephen's eyes fluttered and opened slowly. After blinking a few times he seemed to drift further awake, and he noticed Jack's face laying inches from his own. He smiled, "Good morning my dear" and moved closer against him, placing his hand on his side. "Good morning" Jack said. A thrill ran up his side from the place where Stephen laid his hand, and the affection he was feeling surged up again, even stronger in the face of Stephen's smile, and the complete lack of space between them. And now he did act on it. He placed his hand behind Stephen's neck and without giving it a thought he leaned his head forward and kissed him. It was strong and gentle, and barely long enough for him to relax into it, tender and sweet, before Stephen gave a sharp inhale and he realized what he was doing, and Jack pulled away immediately, hand retreating from Stephen's neck. "Oh" he said. Suddenly he felt embarrassed, a stark contrast to the free and open feeling he'd had upon waking. The situation seemed absurd, here he was holding dear Stephen in his arms and kissing him like he was his wife! "Oh my dear, I'm so sorry!" He began to maneuver out of the embrace "I don't know what I was thinking, I can't believe I did such a silly thing," he felt his cheeks begin to flush and he moved as if to sit up, still talking "I don't know what came over me, I do apologize and I hope I haven't affronted you - " Stephen grabbed his wrist, stopping him from both sitting up and continuing his rant. "Jack wait" in a bit of a daze, from the kiss and from sleep, he pulled Jack back down beside him. "I don't know what I was thinking," Jack started, but Stephen cut him off “Hush," he said “it's alright." His brow furrowed and he held Jack's gaze. He was surprised and confused, at Jack for doing what he did, and at himself for the way he felt in response to it. He wanted to kiss him again. Jack was flustered and his face was bright red, so much so that if Stephen hadn't seen the clear focus in his eyes he would have thought he was in a fever again. Stephen put one hand under Jack's cheek and the other on his waist again, and despite the concern behind those blue eyes, Jack relaxed his face into Stephen's hand, releasing a gentle catch of his breath, and something passed between them. Neither could say what, but it was close to forgiveness, or a type of comfort. It was definitely an understanding of sorts, and full of care. “Hush now Jack,” Stephen said “and just lie here a moment.” Jack gladly did, closing his eyes and breathing deeply, and he put a tentative hand on Stephen's shoulder and curled the other between their chests. He made himself comfortable again, forgetting his embarrassment and being again content with the comfortable proximity of his friend, who was very warm, and surprisingly soft and easy to hold. Stephen, for his part, began tracing small circles in the bare skin of Jack's waist, and watching his face intently. There seemed to be an otherworldly haze about the whole room, and about their minds, for if they had found themselves in this situation at any other time, he believed he would have laughed, and Jack would join him. But here, it was quiet, and dreadfully serious. He could see the lines smoothing out of Jack's face as his gentle touches seemed to put him more at ease. He felt as though whatever happened here and now was terribly important, and yet wouldn't matter again ere they leave - what, the bed? The room? Spain? He was sure the limit was less than Spain itself for all love. But as he watched his friend's face, the light reflecting onto the golden hair around his face and head, giving him an appearance of transcendent beauty and goodness, he felt the strange emotion that hung in the air; that urge to bare his heart and soul and lay it all before Jack, to give it to him or show it to him in some impossibly gentle way. Words wouldn't do. He stopped his tracings and ran his hand rough up Jack's side and back, and tangled his fingers in Jack's sparkling hair, and he pulled Jack closer (or rather, he pulled himself closer, as Jack was much too big for Stephen to move in any physical respect). Jack's eyes flew open “Stephen,” he began, but Stephen interrupted him again, this time with another kiss. He laid his partially open mouth directly over Jack's, “mmph..” and the words were swallowed down, Lord knows by whom. He ran his tongue over Jack's lips and dipped into his mouth, and Jack answered in kind, a very skilled player, filling up and lapping at the soft wet heat of Stephen's mouth. Stephen breathed in deep, opening as far as he could, drinking up Jack's kiss like he was parched and Jack was the sweetest coolest spring. Jack had both hands on Stephen now, cupping his face and running down his side, gentle, gentle, and he felt separated from the world like he hadn't before, not even in a calm at sea in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but blue as far as the eye could see. This was different, it felt like a step outside the current of time, like a parentheses in his life in which he could live this reality of holding Stephen close, of having him and being his. He sighed and kissed Stephen slowly, taking his time to softly caress and explore all of Stephen's sweet compliant mouth. When he broke the kiss to gasp in a low breath, Stephen took the opportunity to explore further, and trailed little kisses up Jack's jaw, and across to his nose, and around his cheeks. He ran his hand through Jack's long hair, combing it away from Jack's forehead, and letting it run through his fingers. Jack's eyes were closed again and he was holding Stephen close and running his hand across Stephen's shoulders and back, and he was the picture of contentment. Stephen felt his heart swell and he buried his face in Jack's neck, barely kissing him, breathing in his scent and almost suffocating himself on his soft skin. Jack brought his hand up to Stephen's hair. He ran his hand through it and watched it shimmer in the clear low light and he felt like in this cocoon of reality he could do whatever he liked and it would be correct. Something near the top of his throat waited to be said, but Stephen spoke first “You're very dear to me Jack.” in a whisper, floating up from where he was huddled. Jack had heard some variation of these simple words many times, and it always moved him in some small way, but nothing compared to now, as his breath caught on the words in his throat and he felt tears come to his eyes “My God, Stephen. I love you.” Stephen sat up and looked into his face, placing a hand on his cheek. “And I you, my heart.” He leaned forward and as Jack closed his eyes he kissed the tip of his nose, and each of his teary eyes, before claiming his mouth again in a chaste kiss.
Neither knew how long they lay there, basking in each other's company and occasional kisses, enjoying the luxury of holding the other in his arms and being completely open with their affection. Time seemed to still, and the morning hung suspended around them, perfect and warm and happy, stalling the rest of the day and the evening. They existed for some stretch of time in the relative bliss of this altered reality, delaying somehow the day they had to collect themselves and continue on their journey.