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If Linus had dared

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Before Arthur, Linus had never imagined himself being in love. It was frivolous, he often thought, to dream and imagine things that may not ever come true. Sure, he might wish he were on the beach, cerulean ocean stretched wide in front of him, but he refused to spend hours dwelling upon a different present. His life was DICOMY, and that was all there was to it.
During his time at Marseus Island though, it was as though he had been given permission to wonder. This was a place where dreams and reality were too intertwined to unpick, too interwoven to discern truth from imagination. A place where the forest was greener, the sun shone daily, and people he never dreamed existed were, well, people. In such a place, it was easy to imagine himself capable of love, and capable of being loved in turn.

***

Arthur's hand in his in a dark room, no witness or proof needed. Linus himself wasn't sure it had happened, caught up in everything as he was, but he still imagined. A warm hand tucked gently in his, not a promise, not a question, just there. Just holding him. Linus let his mind wonder, the hand in his drifting gently up his arm, brushing over his shoulder softly. Linus shivered. The hand was warm, but the feeling of another person was so unfamiliar he couldn't control his reaction. He didn't look away from Arthur.

Arthur brought his hand towards Linus's face, cupping his jaw with soft skin. He stared at Linus, eyes searching for something. He must have seen it in Linus's face, because he smiled softly.

"Thank you for your help this evening. Lucy's nightmares are always hard, for all of us. But you helped bring him back."

Linus spluttered. "Me? I didn't really- I mean, you were the one who-"

"You really don't think much of yourself, do you?" His question threw Linus off guard.

"What do you mean by that?"

Arthur chuckled, stroking his thumb along Linus's cheek. "You are a dear man, Linus."

Linus flushed. He wasn't used to this... flirting what was it was, no point denying it. It was over the line and distinctly inappropriate and he would hate to think what Rules and Regulations would have to say about this.

"I- I don't think that's at all appro-" Linus trailed off as Arthur tugged his face closer to his own.

"I think you think too much," Arthur breathed.

It wasn't Linus's first kiss, not by a long shot. But it was his first kiss with Arthur, and that was what made it special. Their kiss was brief, only really a gentle press of lips, but Linus jolted. It was electricity through his skin.

Arthur leaned back, smile still etched on his face. Linus looked at him softly, catching his hand in his own.

"I-" Before Linus could say anymore, Arthur shook his head.

"Lucy will be back. You should get some sleep, Linus Baker. We have all the time in the world."

They didn't, of course, but Linus didn't want to think of that now.

"Tomorrow, then."

Arthur nodded. "Tomorrow." Then, "goodnight, Linus."

"Goodnight, Arthur."

***

Linus opened his eyes. If only he'd been braver, let himself go, dared a little more, and the evening might have played out differently. He recalled the feeling of Real-Arthur's warm hand in his own, and he remembered the feel of Imaginary-Arthur's lips pressed against his. He sighed. It wouldn't do to dwell on what might have been. Even if this place let him dream. Even if this place let him love.