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I want to witness the beauty of your repair

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Sometimes, when Paul glides his fingers through Gio’s hair, he imagines that the strands are crusty with dried blood. Sometimes, he imagines that he was too late, even though Gio did most of his own saving. Sometimes, he imagines that he did not care, after all.


“They’ll want to know how we met.”

“They know how we met.”


Gio doesn’t seem to have nightmares. Paul doesn’t sleep much, so he thinks he’d know. Some might say that his insomnia is a symptom of a guilty conscience and, though his moral compass will never be like that of Sovereign (their moral compasses are too alike to think on it for long), Paul likes to think his taste in women might be better.

Gio shifts a little in his sleep. Alexis barely moved. Comparisons make for uneasy bedfellows.

Paul tightens his arms around Gio and Gio clings closer. It’s nice, which astonishes Paul more than anything. They live in an apartment in the city, with neighbours on every side, and Paul thinks it might be better for them. There is, strangely, more privacy in this faceless place.

Gio mumbles and mutters and there are fine tremors under his skin.

Gio was right, of course, and, sometime, Paul will tell him so. Gio was the first man Paul ever loved.


“They’ll want to know how we met.”

“They know.” Paul glides his fingers through Gio’s hair. “You ran away from the circus.”

“We should embellish it,” says Gio. “I was an acrobat. The sexiest guy you’d ever seen.”

“You were,” says Paul. “You are. This isn’t embellishment. I want my money back.”

“Look at you,” says Gio, his words slurring slightly as he pushed his head into Paul’s hand, like a cat. “Using your words.” He smiled and turned a little to press a kiss to Paul’s palm. “I’ll embellish. You used to come see me, every night. You never talked to me. You just watched, all shadowy-like. I didn’t know that you were there to save my life.”

Paul kisses Gio’s forehead. He smiles. “Oh, was I?”

“Oh, yes. Unbeknownst to anyone but you, a supervillain was after me.”

Paul holds Gio tighter.

“And, one night, he was going to do it. He was going to kill me by sabotaging the high-wire.”

“And then what happened?”

“You saved me. I fell, but you caught me.”

“That sounds very heroic.”

Gio smiles. “It was. There was a lot of applause. People wanted us to kiss, right there in the big top but you said, no. It wouldn’t be right.”

“You were only seventeen.”

“And you were engaged.”


Because it was different, somehow, when Gio was nineteen and Paul was married.



“They’ll want to know how we met.”

“They know how we met.”



Sometimes, Gio can’t sleep. He dresses for bed, in shorts and a t-shirt that might have been Paul’s, because it hangs off Gio’s shoulder slightly, for all that Gio is broad.

“Mmm, you haven’t shaved in days,” Gio says, lips brushing over Paul’s cheek.

“Do you mind?”

“No,” says Gio. “No, I like how it burns.”

Sometimes, they fuck on the couch, when Gio can’t sleep. Paul glides his fingers through Gio’s hair, damp from a late shower, and he tugs at the collar of his t-shirt and he lays kisses along Gio’s collarbone. There’s no blood, here; no horrifying pallor and nothing sluggish about the pulse at the side of Gio’s neck.

Sometime, Paul is going to tell Gio that he was right.

For now, he tugs Gio’s shirt off and mouths at his chest, which is smooth and wide, with scars that have almost healed.

Gio’s hands ghost down Paul’s back, tender and encouraging.

Paul will fuck him until they both ache with it and Gio can’t sleep but they’ll curl up on the couch together and Paul will be late for work, and Alexis will look at him like she doesn’t now him (and that may be true).


“They’ll want to know how we met.”

“They know how we met.”

“Maybe we can tell them that I came to work at the Fritsche Foundation as an intern, straight out of high school.”

“Maybe we can, huh?”

“Oh, or juvie. I was a young criminal. A petty thief. And you were my last chance before a life of crime swallowed me whole and spat me out in prison scrubs.”

“You’d have looked great in orange.”

Gio laughs. Paul loves it when Gio laughs. “Instead, I showed up wearing a bad-fitting suit and hoping that I wasn’t going to fuck up on my first day, in front of my hot new boss.”

“Did you?”

“Well, I seduced him in his office. Some would call that a win.”

“I bet your hot new boss did.”


The thing with living with Gio is that Paul is learning to say what he’s thinking. He’s still not great at verbalising everything. Well, it’s mostly the love thing; he’s pretty sure Gio knows but Paul’s going to say it some day and Gio will smile at him). Paul talks more, though he’s happy to let Gio lead.


“They’ll want to know how we met.”

“They know how we met.”

“Sex pollen.”


“You were sent a mysterious package in the post. I just happened to be passing by your house. I was - I was delivering newspapers. And I saw that your front door was ajar.”

“And then what happened?”

“You were standing in the front hall, covered in some kind of blue dust. You were sweating right through your clothes.”

Gio leans forward and his expression is cheeky; he is the boy Paul fell in love with (oh, that thought is new and he will savour it).

“You were hard, too. Even from the front door, I could see your cock was huge.”

“What did you do?” Paul

“I did what any selfless citizen would. I got on my knees and swallowed you down. Every last drop. You came like an explosion. Obviously, we had to keep fucking for the rest of the day, just to be sure.”

“Obviously,” said Paul. “To be sure.”


“I think I’m going to be okay,” Gio says, quietly, one night. It’s not as dark as it should be, because Paul forgot to close the bedroom window blinds. He’s not used to the city and how there is always light.

“Yes,” says Paul. “Of course you are. You’re the best man I know.”

“Yeah?” Gio’s eyes are red-rimmed and his cheeks are damp. “You sure about that?”

“Yes,” says Paul. “Yes.” It’s an obvious truth, really.

Sovereign is still MIA and there are rumblings all over the globe about what happens next and the action figures aren’t quite right and sometimes, Gio can’t sleep, but Paul’s better at seeing the truth, and maybe even telling it.




“They’ll want to know how we met.”

“They know how we met.”

“What if--”

“What if I just tell my parents that you’re the best man I know?”