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an afternoon during summer

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It wasn’t that Dele was being annoying, well actually he fully was being annoying sure, but he had a very good reason to be. He and Eric had been apart for months now, only now back home together for the past week and Dele couldn’t help but feel like there was endless lost time to make up for.

In some ways, the distance had made them stronger than ever. The hours spent in long conversations to make the space between them feel smaller had made it feel like the beginning of the relationship all over again.

It was like when they had first fallen into it all properly, knowing what they both wanted. It had been falling into the best feeling head-first, knowing they wanted more than friendship, wanted only each other. After that, they hadn’t looked back, only focused on seeing more of each other, tangling themselves up in each other’s lives.

They had gotten used to spending the ins and outs of every day together, training, lunch, walking the dogs, making dinner, watching movies, all of it. Eric and Dele’s lives were overlapped and strung together tight, a perfect tangle keeping them bound close. The routine hadn’t become repetitive, and they weren’t bored of each other, but it had become comfortable.

Eric was always in arms reach of Dele, there when he wanted him, when he needed him, for a kiss, to help him open a jar of pasta sauce that was tough, to scratch the part on his back that he couldn’t reach, to talk with him through last night’s game. Eric would always be there, behind the beats of Dele’s heart, he filled the silences and the breaths, he completed Dele and filled his life.

Eric was a constant, unchangeable, so suddenly finding his certain thing gone, had been ground shaking, to say the least. It was like the world had been flipped on its head, shaken apart for Dele to put back together himself. He had to find a new normal when he really just wanted the normal he’d always had.

It had pulled them apart and thrown them right back to each other, Dele’s heart reaching out more than ever to his boy. They talked easily for hours, with their days no longer spent together all the time, it bought the near-constant need to talk about what they were doing.

Dele would throw together a lazy (but “somewhat green and healthy meal still thank you very much Eric”) lunch while Eric described the plants he was planning to line the garden wall with. Or he’d chat in detail about the paper he was writing, or about the mole he had on his leg that he thought changed colour and if he should see the dermatologist.

Sometimes Eric would stretch out in the sun with Clay and keep Dele on loud speaker while Dele did a zoom meeting or interview. Dele would just leave his phone propped up to the side, out of the view of the laptop’s camera and go about his interview as normal, Eric comforted by the sound of Dele’s voice, able to joke about the interview after it was over.

The pair had found a new intimacy, one that didn’t allow the brush of fingers or a kiss to the hairline, a cuddle or a slow morning of making a mess of their sheets, small gasps and quiet moans between kisses.

The new intimacy was quiet, something Dele didn’t have with anyone else, a comfort that he found in a five-hour facetime, of propping up his phone on the sink while he showered, just to listen to Eric talk about his new show. It was wanting as much of each other as they could get their hands on, the smallest aspects of their lives that no one else saw, the need to hold the small pieces next to each other and make one collective life.

Shamelessly, Dele needed to show Eric the mundane over and over, to feel the comfort of the reassurance that this man wanted to watch Dele brush his teeth, or see what he was having for dinner. He wanted to wash himself over again and again with that acceptance, of Eric clinging to each last word as he spoke about a video game or a softness in his tone when he talked to Dele about his nightmares.

Eric had recorded voice notes of him reading his book aloud, or telling him about his day, to try and give Dele something to help him fall asleep, it was a new vein of their love that hadn’t been flushed with blood till now. Dele had felt dizzy with the affection of a thorough kiss when Eric had had a weighted blanket sent to his place, a card attached talking about how research showed that they helped with nightmares and trouble sleeping.

It was new kind of love, a new deep affection that didn’t even need touch to bloom beautifully between them, it was an I hear you, I see you I want to layer my life with yours, I see the boring parts and they only make me want you more. It was an I’ll be here even when I can’t be here, you can’t lose something that has lodged steady and safe into your own chest, it would be like trying to lose your own shadow, impossible, and only a fool would try and take out the sun that casts it.

In spite of this, the loss of physical affection, the forced being apart had still been draining and hard and exhausting and Dele had missed home and Clay and how Eric made eggs and the smell of their sheets. He had craved the soft light that beamed in through the large glass doors and windows of their living room each afternoon.

And maybe just a bit, he’d missed Eric.

So yes, he was being annoying but he felt like he had every right to be when Eric had decided to spend the warm summer afternoon outside with his laptop and novels, working on a paper instead of with Dele.

Sure they had been back together a week, But Dele had only really just stopped climbing into every one of Eric’s showers, and Eric was still waking him up most mornings with a hand down Dele’s sweats, or his lips on the low of his back.

Just last night, Eric had pulled Dele into bed and demand he lay directly on top of him, his cheek pressed to Eric’s. Dele had mumbled something about squashing him but Eric had just pulled him firmer to his body and told him not to move.

So yeah, maybe Eric was being affectionate and trying to make up for the lost time (and only had to do the coursework now because he’d put it off earlier in the week to take Clay on a walk and have a small picnic in the fields by Eric’s place) still, Dele missed him.

It felt stupid to miss him it had only been around two hours since Eric had kissed him up against the kitchen counter, mouth tasting like mate, mumbling about the laundry that would love to be put away by Dele, before he had slipped outside with all his study supplies.

But two hours felt so long, and Clay was sleeping in the yard and Dele had actually put all the laundry away and there was nothing to do and he was bored. Besides, for some reason, Eric decided the warm weather meant no shirt ever and a sad excuse for football shorts that looked like they maybe fit Eric when he was seventeen.

He looked sinful sprawled out on one of the chairs pulled up at the back table. His thighs sprawled carelessly open, and his whole body dipped in sunlight, sweat glowing on his skin, it lined his shoulders and lit up the hollow of his throat, his chest shimmered like the surface of water under the sun and Dele was having trouble looking away.

Dele gave up on not giving in and placed the glass of orange juice he’d been sipping at down on the bench before he walked out into the backyard. The home was open, doors and windows pulled up and out to enjoy the lush sun that had been beaming down all afternoon, the heat that had hit them earlier that week and lingered.

Dele tugged at the loose tank he’d thrown on that morning, one of Eric’s judging by the way the armholes dipped down below his ribs, as he stepped onto the soft grass of their yard, working his way over to the table.

Dele’s perched himself on the edge of the table, let out a small sigh as he pulled his phone out of his pocket and lazily scrolled across the screen, not really looking at it as he watched Eric from the side of his vision.

Eric didn’t seem to move or react, just kept typing idly away and Dele let out another small breath, a huff almost, and he placed his phone down on the table, reached his arms up above his head with a small grunt and arched his back in a stretch.

Eric shifted at that, the tapping of his fingers on his keyboard slowed and he paused, seemed to blink slowly as if considering something, and Dele tucked a grin in the corner of his mouth, twisted his torso to the side, away from Derek and then toward him. Eric was already watching him, when Dele’s eyes found him, blue eyes focused on him in a way that made Dele’s stomach tighten.

“Hi” Dele mumbled after a few quiet breaths, smirked when Eric gave him that look, the look that told him that he knew what Dele was up to. In truth, Dele thought Eric should learn to expect it more, really and not look even slightly surprised that Dele was trouble making.

“Hey” Eric mumbled after a moment, placed a hand under his chin, resting his elbow on the table as he continued to look at Dele with sharp eyes. Dele shrugged and smiled back at Eric, eyes darting over his handsome face, the slight scrunch of his brow and squint of his eyes, the fondness hidden under his expression.

“What are you up to mate?” Eric asked, with a quirk of his brow, eyes dragged back to his laptop screen for a moment, as if considering the work Dele was distracting him from, and no that wouldn’t do, at all.

Dele hummed and leant in closer to Eric, mirroring him with a hand under his chin. He let his bottom lip jut out and he looked up from under his lashes, lazily shrugged and swayed slightly as he watched a stray bead of sweat roll down the side of Eric’s neck.

Dele licked his lips, unable to help himself and watched the movement of Eric’s throat as he swallowed before he spoke.

“Right then” Eric mumbled, looked over Dele as if considering him once more before he turned toward his laptop once more, fingers tapping at the keys after a few moments.

Dele sighed again, reached up to fiddle with the few curls flat with sweat sitting against his forehead as he eyed the slope of Eric’s shoulders, felt his breath kick up in pace as he followed the shift of muscle as Eric worked.

Eric’s skin had already started to glow under the attention of the sun, skin tanned with his freckles darkening. Growing up in Portugal had attuned Eric’s English complexion to avoid burning and instead take easily to a tan after just a couple days in the sun.

Eric stayed focused on his work and Dele knew he needed a better tactic, climbed off the table and moved to stand behind Eric, his hands moved to rest on the warm skin of his shoulders. Eric leant back into the touch as if subconsciously, and Dele grinned, felt the firm bundle of muscles under his touch and felt a small bloom of pride spark in his chest, and well as a heat low in his stomach.
Eric was the fittest he’d been in a while, training hard and his body was showing the benefits of it. Dele would love Eric regardless of how his body looked or changed, but seeing the confidence in how Eric carried himself, the beaming smile when his times got faster, found a hard session easier, meant everything to him. After all the bullshit of last year, Dele adored seeing Eric strong and confident and succeeding. Dele drew his hands across Eric’s shoulders, leant in to press a kiss to the back of Eric’s head.

“You need sun cream” Dele muttered, drew one of his hands to the back of Eric’s neck and began to scratch lazily, smirked when he heard Eric stumble a breath. Dele felt a sense of relief when the sun dipped behind a cloud, bathing them in a smattering of shade.

“Already have it on” Eric mumbled.

Dele sighed again, Eric wasn’t making this whole ‘steal his attention’ thing easy by any means. Eric seemed to pause at the sound and he tilted his head back to look up at Dele with soft eyes.

“You ok?” Eric asked, his cheeks and nose pinked with the summers day. Dele just shrugged lazily and gave a small nod before reached up to press the tip of his finger to Eric’s nose.

Eric hummed, reached up and caught the man’s wrist, tugged Dele’s hand down to rest it against his shoulder, holding it there. He paused and his eyes scanned Dele’s face and Dele dropped his eyes away, cheeks flushed.

He’d tease Eric all he could, try and sneak his way into attention but whenever Eric saw through him like that, seemed to find the sincerity at the heart of his actions, it still struck right through him.

Dele wanted the affection, wanted Eric’s focus, but he also didn’t want to take him away from getting study done that he needed to. In truth, Dele had more than enough to keep himself entertained, but he found himself missing Eric when he was in other rooms after being apart for so long. He could be near Eric now after craving to be, so why wouldn’t he be, he tried not to be insecure about wanting affection, but he worried occasionally about being annoying, too much.

A small smile quirked at the corner of Dele’s mouth as he imagined Eric’s reaction to that thought. Over and over again, Eric showed him and told him he loved his affectionate side, would get frustrated with Dele thinking he was being too much or asking too much.

Eric smiled up at Dele, bought Dele’s hand up from his chest and pressed a kiss to the middle of his palm before he pulled back to speak, lips brushing the skin.

“Come on them, c’mere, you can sit on my lap until I’m done working,” Eric mumbled, tugged at Dele’s wrist, and the boy didn’t need much persuasion, stepped around to set himself on the arm of the chair. Eric’s hand caught Dele’s thigh and tugged him down until his arse was sat on Eric’s thigh, his legs slung over the edge of the chair, the arm of it under his knees.

“S’bit hot..” Dele breathed, “..for a cuddle” Dele muttered, his lips somewhere near the line of Eric’s jaw, where he smelt like his deodorant and slightly of sweat.

Eric just shrugged and leant in to press a kiss to Dele’s shoulder, left his chin resting there as he looked over Dele’s body to watch the screen as he typed. Dele settled after a moment, the sun dipped behind the clouds, for the time being, taking away the intensity of the heat and made the press of skin more bearable.

Eric’s body shifted easily under Dele’s and he took comfort in the movement of his boy’s body, the shift of his biceps where they were pressed against Dele’s sides as he typed. Dele’s breathing steadied as he settled back against Eric’s chest, let his mind focus o the steady thud of his own heart and the rise and fall of his breathing as the afternoon slipped past them.

“How many words you got left?” Dele asked, let his head loll back against Eric’s chest, grinned when Eric pressed his chin into the top of his head, rubbed it side to side to make Dele squeak.

“Like two hundred left in the word count the I need to finish referencing then m’done” Eric explained, voice low and calm.

Dele nodded, shuffled where he was sat to tuck his nose into the side of Eric’s throat. He breathed in deep, and the familiar comforting smell of home rolled over Dele, and his smile bloomed easily. Dele reached up to place his hand flat to Eric’s chest, sought out the steady thud of his heart under his tough and let his hold linger there.

Eric paused every few moments to touch Dele, a pet to the curls at the back of his neck, a kiss to his shoulder, Eric finding Dele’s hand to bring it to his mouth to press a kiss to his wrist or fingers or knuckles. The afternoon drew out, as did the sun from behind the clouds, drenching them in warm rays of light once more,

Dele sleepily offered to move, aware of their skin sticking together in the heat but Eric had let out a hum of disagreement, asked Dele to find what page a particular quote was from in one of the books he was referencing. Dele had just shrugged and happily helped Eric compile his references, fingers working clumsily to turn pages and follow the sections that Eric had circled in pencil.

By the time Eric clicked submit on the paper, Dele was scratching through Eric’s chest chair, a circle of nails as he let his slow blinks dip. He wasn’t quite dozing, but it was hard to fight sleep when he felt so relaxed and warm, safe in the familiar cradle of Eric’s arms.

The tap of the keys from Eric’s typing, paired by the man’s quiet whispers of thought every now and again, and the rush of wind through the trees, Clay’s occasional shuffle it was peaceful. It made Dele’s heart feel full to brim, and it felt awful to think of just weeks prior when this all felt like a distant hope, something to dream of.

Eric’s hands slid up Dele’s sides, spread out wide over Dele’s ribs just under his armpits, helped to twist him in his lap to face him. Dele smirked and sat more comfortably, wrapped his arms around Eric’s neck, contentment feeling as though it was radiating off him in thick waves.

“Alright? Didn’t bore you to death?” Eric asked as he leant in close, knocked their noses together in a lazy nuzzle, his breath fanning out over Dele’s lips.

Dele nodded, lean in to chase a soft press of lips, that Eric turned into a slow kiss, a drag of his tongue over Dele’s lips to part them before he licked into his mouth. Dele let himself melt into it, slumped forward into the warmth of Eric’s body and wrapped his arms tighter around Eric’s shoulders.

One of Eric’s hands stayed steady on Dele’s waist, grip firm as the other mapped him out, slipped under his tank top to drag over Dele’s stomach, came to rest on his tummy, thumb brushing over his belly button. Dele squirmed at the touch, let out a small squeak into the kiss as his toes curled, sensitive to the touch. Dele caught Eric’s hand and tugged it away from his stomach to stop the tickling, instead of linked their hands and let them fall to rest between them.

Dele keened forward even as Eric pulled away, he paused to draw in a short breath before he met his mouth once more, small pecks where Dele caught Eric’s bottom lip, felt the scratch of Eric’s beard against his cheeks, a warmth flooding his cheeks at the feeling.

Dele pulled away from the kiss to trail his mouth down Eric’s chin, follow the trail of the bead of sweat that had teased him earlier, made his way to the base of Eric’s throat and dragged his teeth to make the skin lightly bloom red before he sealed it with small kisses.

“Baby” Eric’s mumbled and his hand came to rest in Dele’s curls, voice husky and eyes dark as he looked at him. Dele just smirked and tilted his head up into the touch, cheeks flooded red at the pet name.

“s’Too hot” Dele huffed with a small laugh, asked a question that Eric hadn’t asked and leant in to even out some kisses over Eric’s collarbone and shoulders.

“Too hot” Eric agreed, voice low and warm, arm wrapped around Dele’s waist and kept him pressed tight to him.