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Looking back on it later, he’s pretty sure it was just… thinking.   That it was simply the first time since it all ended that he truly had the leisure of processing everything that happened.  But, whatever it was, it hit Gordon hard.   Practically knocked him clean out of himself.


… Feeling this way near anyone, let alone Benrey, felt wrong for some reason.  Like he was being such a burden the presence was yet another sensory input eating away at him.  Ah- sensory overload.   Now that was a tangentially similar experience he was familiar with, although it’d been some time since he last dealt with it.  Obviously he came very, very close quite a few times recently, but, still.  He stood up, trying to look as though he had a purpose, as he rifled through old solutions in his head.  Okay, usually, the best thing to do is to get away, typically somewhere without much going on, not much to take in, often quiet and...




His breath hitched.


Benrey stirred the tiniest bit, looking up from whatever time-waster he was messing with on his phone now.   “What’s up?”


“Nothing!  Nothing’s up, I just gotta… uhhh…”


“... Go take another massive dump?”


“Wh-  That’s not something I do frequently, man.”


“Big boy gotta go take a rancid shit?”


“I’m walking away now.”


“Yeah, go ahead, you, uh… smelly.  Like aaa… like a rose.  Look like one, too, all pretty an’ shit.”


Gordon was already halfway out of the living room.  “Okay, thanks, love you too.”


Around a corner and hopefully out of earshot, he let out a shaky breath.  Alright, he… he was at a loss, actually.  This, this exact scenario, despite how much he’d just tried to kid himself, wasn’t exactly something he was used to.   And even if he was, it’s still, y’know, really bad.   Bad, stressful, helpless, and, as he glanced into the rooms he could hole up in only to find them all pitch black not far beyond the threshold, pretty damn overwhelming, too.  Logically, he knew that could be fixed with just the flick of a switch, but his brain had clearly chucked logic out the window a little bit ago.  He knew this feeling would already be squashed if it hadn’t.  But, in the safety of that well lit hallway, he let out a sob.


Oh, he hated this.  He hated having to just hang on for the ride as his mind went every which-way.  He hated the static in his right arm.  He hated feeling tears and snot catch in his facial hair as it all became too much.  He hated sliding down against the wall and curling up on the floor.  And he hated just barely hearing footsteps approach him.


“... Gordon…?”  He didn’t even need to look up to know the way Benrey was looking at him.


“‘m sorry.”


“Hey, how come you’re sorry?  I’m not the one crying on the floor, bro.”


“You don- you didn’t need to see me like this.”


“Bu-”  Benrey glanced around.  “Look, I…  I don’t…”  He awkwardly inched a little bit closer.  “You wanna hug?”


He wiped away some snot on the back of his left hand.  “Yeah, man.”


“Well, uh…”  Sitting down beside him, he opened his arms.  “C’mere.”


Without another word, he was scrambling into his embrace, pressing his mess of a face into a hoodie that, frankly, could probably stand to be washed soon, anyway.  As warm arms wrapped around him, he let out a shaky breath.


Mind churning, Benrey started gently rubbing his back.  “You’re alright, dude.  Everything’s, uh- everything’s chill.  Um…”  He shot a glance at the top of Gordon’s head.  “Wanna talk about it?”


“I- I d-”  His weak attempt at talking about it died off in a broken sound as he clutched at Benrey’s back.


He sputtered as he patted Gordon’s shoulder blades in a way he hoped was comforting.  “ Uh, that’s cool, too!  We can just, y’know, keep hanging out.  That’s fine.”


Nodding into Benrey’s chest, he tried to focus on the contact instead.  It felt a little less impossible to reel his thoughts back now that he had some form of anchor.


At some point, Benrey started humming.  It wasn’t, like, good, objectively, but the vibrations through his chest did help soothe Gordon a little.  When it started sounding familiar, he looked him in the eyes as best as their positioning would allow.  “Is that the song that never ends?”




“What is wrong with you?”


“Alright, guess I won’t hum forever.  Even if you seemed like you were loving it.”


“I was loving it until I realized it was something I’ve already heard enough of for one lifetime.”


He scoffed before holding Gordon’s head to his chest, lightly massaging in silence.  “Weak.”


After a moment, he adjusted against Benrey just enough to not get his voice muffled.  “Wasn’t saying you should stop.


“Wow, somebody’s needy, huh?”


“You started it.”


He pressed a kiss to the top of his head.  “Uh-huh, sure.”  Eventually, he did land on something far less annoying, though the quality was still mediocre at best.


“How the fuck are you bad at humming?   I figured you’d be a natural since-”  Realizing something, Gordon sat up a little.  “Wait.  The sweet voice.”


“What about it?”


“You haven’t used it on me at all yet.”


“Well, yeah, you usually don’t like when I do that.”


Looking up at Benrey, he gave a weak smile after a moment.  “... I love you so much.”


He made a few silent attempts at responding as he opened and closed his mouth.  “Uh… love wins.”


Finally managing a laugh, he buried his face in his hoodie again.  “Thank you.”


“Sure, man, I mean…  I know you’re doin’ a whole lot more than just tolerating me now and all, but it’s the least I can do, y’know?”  His back straightened as he suddenly got hugged much tighter.  “Oh, shit, thanks for fixing my gamer posture.”


“What’d I ever do to deserve you?”


Benrey nuzzled his nose into his hair.  “You didn’t have to do anything, Gordon.”  Feeling the sobs come back, he started swaying the both of them side to side ever so slightly.  “You’re just a good guy.”


Sitting up again, he pulled away a bit.  “I was such a dick to you, though, right?  I was a dick to you and- and-”  At some point, he’d started grabbing at his massive scar, not even thinking about it.


“Hey.  Hey. ”  Benrey wove his fingers between the ones on Gordon’s right hand.  “You didn’t deserve that.”  When the grip that couldn’t possibly be comfortable didn’t let up, Benrey carefully tugged the arm away.  “Stop- cut that shit out.  You’re okay.”  He punctuated it with a kiss to the back of Gordon’s hand.  “We’re not at Black Mesa anymore.”  Kiss.  “Things are chill between us now.”  Kiss.  “‘m not gonna let any of that happen again.”  One more for good measure.


He wrapped his left hand around the ones that were holding and being held, as if that made the gesture twice as real.  “Okay.  Okay.  I’m… I’m okay.”  For a moment, he just sat, rocking slightly, letting his breath finally start to even out.  “... Damn, you’re really taking this seriously, aren’t you?”


“I mean, I’d kinda be a shitty boyfriend if I didn’t.”


With a laugh more resembling a huff, he raised their hands a little.  “Here’s to not being shitty boyfriends.”


“Oh, shit, cheers,” was the only warning Benrey gave before giving the tangle of hands a big, sloppy lick.


As disgusting as that was, Gordon still giggled as he pulled away.  “Aw, man, c’m on!


Benrey mirrored his smile as he watched his face.  “... You gonna be alright, dude?”


Gordon still felt like absolute shit.  But, taking a deep breath…  “I think so.”


“Cool, ‘cause I need to take a wicked piss.”


“... Were you holding it in this whole time?”


Standing up with a grunt, Benrey helped Gordon off the ground.  “Yeah, duh.”


“Why couldn’t you just make me wait, like, two minutes?”


“... Gordon.  We just cheersed to not being shitty boyfriends.”


He wiped the back of his hand off on his pants.  “I remember, yeah.”


Backing up towards the bathroom, he pointed at him all the way.  “Yeah, don’t… don’t you forget it, or I’ll, uhh… make a… bad…”


He couldn’t help but snort watching him bump directly into the doorframe.  “Benrey!  Just go pee!”