Harry is rudely awoken by an apocalyptic news alert on the day he realizes he’s not going to be able to go home. His head is fuzzy with a champagne hangover, so it’s tempting to go back to sleep, but the reporter is saying lockdown in such a grave tone that it’s impossible. Xander, sensing his movement, pulls Harry a little tighter to his chest. He’s dead asleep, which makes Harry’s heart clench with fondness. Somehow, his subconscious can sense Harry’s need for comfort.
Sources say the mayor is considering putting seven counties in Southern California on lockdown. He is looking into imposing a shelter-in-place order for all of the citizens who live there. Were this to happen, all non-essential businesses in these seven counties would close. Major airlines have responded to this news by shuttering flights out of LAX in an attempt to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
‘Shelter-in-place.’ ‘Shuttering flights out of LAX.’
“Fuck,” Harry moans. The inside of his mouth tastes like a sewer. He winces and fruitlessly tries to swallow it away. “Xander. X.”
“Hm?” says Xander sleepily. His foot gently pushes its way through a gap between Harry’s ankles, pressing his (rock hard) cock against the cleft of Harry’s ass. Normally he’d tease his boyfriend awake with a little shimmy of his hips. Xander’s hands would move up to stroke Harry’s tits and Harry would hum and well - etc., and so on, and so forth. This morning, with its ugly wake-up call of holy fuck shuttering flights out of LAX is rapidly placing Harry in a decidedly less-than-horny mood, his own morning wood a remnant of sleep more than arousal about everything that’s going on.
He swallows again - that damn taste . Drink and sleep and anxious bile flowing over the back of his tongue. Disgusting.
“We’re not going to be able to go home,” says Harry. He squeezes the hand resting on his stomach so tightly that his nails press into Xander’s skin. Xander lets out a little grunt of pain. His breathing quickens; his boyfriend is awake enough to suffer too. On a normal day he’d never be so unkind to someone in his bed but it’s not a normal day, it’s, it’s -
“Did we miss our flights? Oh, fuck,” says Xander, stirring in an alert sort of way. Harry shakes his head and pulls him closer.
“No. There’s no flights. They canceled all of them. They’re - the flights are cancelled.”
Xander tenses. Harry strokes Xander’s hand with his thumb. It’s his turn to comfort; it’s only fair.
“What do you mean, ‘They cancelled all of them’?”
Harry pulls free of Xander’s arms and turns around. He grabs Xander’s hands again; they’re like icicles even from their brief contact with the morning air.
“Coronavirus has closed the airport. We belong to Los Angeles. . .for the time being.”
Xander is rarely as sensitive as Harry. He’s gentle, sure, but never frightened , stone-cold even when Harry covered his eyes during a rental of IT. The shuddering breath Xander exhales is a sound that Harry has heard only once before, over the phone in the days leading up to the death of his mother. Harry was only privy to the aftermath, Xander fake-smiling through lunch and talking about the weather and his sister and anything that wasn’t his mom. This is the fear Harry didn’t see - the way he presses his forehead to Harry’s like that, and the way his ankle entwines with Harry’s like that, and his hot, heaving breath blowing Harry’s overlong fringe into his eyes.
“Oh, fuck ,” he says wetly. Harry nods, which feels stupid, but there’s really nothing to say. To make up for how fucking inadequate it is, he kisses the back of Xander’s hand. Xander closes his eyes - pain and new exhaustion.
Finally, Harry says, “We should probably call our family.”
Harry and Kendall are sitting on the edge of Kendall’s truly massive deck when she leans into him and suggests that they should ditch town on a boat - alone . For a moment, Harry thinks she might be joking, but her silence after the proposition says otherwise. He swings his legs against the deck - ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump - as he chews over the idea. A joint vacation on a boat - seems kind of serious.
“Alone,” is his response, which is obviously neither what she wants or deserves. But Harry is, well - working things out is probably an understatement - and this whole thing with her - her energy and her family has got him all -
Well, he doesn’t know the words for what the all is, exactly. This thing with Kendall sits uncomfortably between what’s cracking him open and what’s keeping him together. The concept of being alone with her on the ocean for more than a day trip with no way to escape might break him in two or seal it right up.
Alone, alone, alone.
“Only if you want that. I do have a couple of friends who were saying they might be heading out to the Carribean and I could ask them if we could come.”
She leans her head on his shoulder. Her hair cascades over his arm, long enough to tickle the inside of his elbow. Kendall smells like her favorite fruity perfume and the hundred-dollar shampoo that she gets free as a perk of being herself. The sunlight at the edge of the horizon has a piercing quality that imprints stars on his retinas. He stares into it anyway, chewing over the proposition.
“Ellen and Portia,” says Kendall. “They have a below-deck so we won’t get as much attention as last time.”
Harry can’t help but smile and wrap his ankle around Kendall’s. Their two options - alone, or a double-date with another lesbian couple.
With a lesbian couple.
“You drive a hard bargain, Ms. Jenner. How is Portia? Still keeping Ellen tame?”
Kendall nuzzles into his neck.
“Ask her yourself in a few days,” she says. Harry toys with a piece of her hair. It’s impossibly soft in a way he can never imitate no matter how much product he puts in his own. Some bewitching mystery of womanhood, like Kendall’s smooth hands and the graceful curve between her breasts and hips.
“You realize that if the paps catch us at the wrong angle, they might think you’re on a lesbian cruise. People will talk.”
She laughs a little too hard; butterflies flutter uncomfortably in Harry’s stomach. Lately, he’s been feeling like some of his jokes about the way he looks are too funny to other people. Maybe he should stop telling them so often.
“Please. With those shoulders? You’re all man, babe.”
The last ray of sunshine falls beneath the horizon. All they have is the red sky and the shadow of a crescent moon. It can’t be less than sixty degrees, but Harry feels cold in its absence anyway. His hardy British constitution has been wiped out by multiple tours in South America.
“Ah! What was I thinking!” says Harry. “You’re right. My beefy shoulders will rescue you from incessant gal pals speculation.”
Kendall playfully ribs him in the side with her elbow.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you’d want us to be mistaken for a lesbian couple. Passing the buck of gay rumors down the line.”
It’s too quiet for a moment. They don’t talk about this - Harry’s exes, or the tabloids, or the thousands of people on twitter who @ him with compromising pictures. They don’t talk about it, because Kendall has it way worse, and because it’s dreadfully unsexy. They don’t talk about it, because Harry has a growing sense that they’re right in the entirely wrong way.
“I would never,” he says.
“Then don’t joke, and just say yes,” says Kendall.
“Okay,” says Harry. He presses a kiss to the part in Kendall’s hair. “Let’s go be heterosexual on Ellen Degeneres’ boat.”