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What We're Given and What We Make

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Martin wakes to Gerry’s soft touches, his fingers mapping constellations from the freckles on his arm. “Mm. Morning, love. Jon already up?”

 

“Actually, I think you’re on top of him.”

 

“Ah, alright.”

 

The sunlight is filtering through the window Jon forgot to close and it’s been letting in a cool breeze all night; it’s probably why Jon’s currently burrowed mostly underneath him, an almost imperceptible bump in the covers. Martin loves the fresh scent that floods the apartment but Jon’s bound to be grumpy about it, waking up with a stuffy nose and an irritated throat. He’ll blame it on one of them; Jon enjoys dodging responsibility for these small, inconsequential things. And they always let him.

 

Gerry meets his eyes with a knowing look, stopping his ministrations to reach up and give Martin a dry peck on the forehead. “Sleep well?”

 

“Reckon so.” He reaches out to tuck a stray lock of hair behind Gerry’s ear, smiling at the demure look it earns him. He’s so lovely in the morning light, clothes rumpled and the remnants of eyeliner smeared across his cheek. Jon likes to help him take it off in the evening, smooths a towel across his face like Gerry’s made of porcelain and liable to break. The intimacy of the motions and the tender care behind them makes Martin want to put pen to paper.

 

When he first met Gerry he expected someone much, much different, the image from Jon’s starstruck tales paint a certain type of picture, you see. Someone arrogant and dashing, a hero from some gritty drama. But he’s shy, quiet and almost unassuming. Jon drags him over from the bar, practically vibrating in excitement and where he should feel jealousy at their interlocked hands he instead feels a sense of belonging, like the man’s hands are made for holding and the other’s waiting for Martin to take.

 

“Martin, this is Jared Keay-”

 

“Ger-ard,” the man stresses, throwing a fondly exasperated look Jon’s way before meeting Martin’s eyes. “You can call me Gerry, though.”

 

Gerry. There’s a friendly cadence to it, warm and kind. Martin likes the way it rolls off his tongue, likes to whisper it to himself when the man dozes on his chest, soft and unguarded only when he’s alone with them. It had taken them quite some time to break his shell and see past the deflective humor and occasional posturing. Breaking down his walls was a task Martin took to with relish- he’d done it with Jon, and he’d do it again. Gerry was worth it.

 

And Gerry’s not one to ruminate, he doesn’t like to dwell on the memories of times with his mother or at the Institute where Jon currently slaves away. But Martin knows he hasn’t quite shaken them off, he can read it in the way he considers his words, when he hesitates at certain touches. Martin can relate; he still hears the phantom echoes of his mother’s voice, her criticisms that followed his every move. When it gets to be too much Jon assures him of his importance, of his worth outside of being useful, and now he has Gerry to do that too. These days, Martin’s starting to think he deserves such devotion. 

 

He hopes Gerry’s starting to think the same.

 

He remembers when he first opened the bookstore, when Gerry helped him set up shelving and plan the layout. Gerry’s telling one of his stories, one Martin’s heard a thousand times and will gladly hear a thousand more. He passes Martin a hammer and for a brief moment their hands touch; an electric pulse shoots up his spine and he knows Gerry feels it too, judging by his own shiver. They were getting close; Gerry spent many nights at their flat slowly opening up and feeling comfortable in his skin. Martin’s been waiting for this moment but Gerry didn’t expect it; he withdrew from them until he could put a name to something he’d never quite felt before. 

 

And so two became three. 

 

“You know, I didn’t think this would ever happen to me,” Gerry confesses one night, while the two of them lie in bed, Jon puttering away in his study. “Didn’t think I was built for it. But then Jon came along and you, and- I don’t know. It just feels right.”

 

“Because it is,” Martin replies, running a hand down Gerry’s back, rucking his shirt up just a bit. He’s so sure of the truth behind his words because he’s watched it happen. He’s watched Jon’s admiration give way to something deeper, Gerry’s easy acceptance of his boundaries. He’s felt the way his own body reacts to Gerry’s presence, how his smile lights up any room. They don’t make each other whole, but they make each other happier. And isn’t that the point, to be loved for one’s self and not what one can give? “We’re all built for love, one way or another. We just have different ways of expressing it.” 

 

Gerry and Jon are born storytellers, their banter and chemistry off the charts, and Martin could listen to them for hours not saying a word. In years past he would’ve felt jealous but now he feels only adoration at their closeness and how relaxed they are with each other. He admires the ease with which they spin worlds for Martin to get lost in. 

 

But late at night Martin speaks in rhythms that could put their words to shame, reading an odyssey in a line of tattoos on skin just to see the blush on Gerry’s face. His I love you is a prayer, devotion enough in every syllable to make Jon weep. These are the nights where they forget the outside world exists- they have only each other, their bed, their hands, and Martin’s words.

 

He enjoys this power, but uses it sparingly. After all, his partners can’t always be putty in his hands.

 

So Jon works, Gerry plans and Martin dreams of a time when the three of them can be happy and content for all days, when the lines of stress fade from Jon’s face and the touch of a hand brings only the echoes of love and not pain. When Gerry’s touches are no longer hesitant but bold and purposeful. He thinks that day’s coming.

 

But for now he laughs when Jon groans to life underneath him, takes the blame when he inevitably complains in a nasally tone about the open window. And when Gerry shoots him that secret little smile, he’s reminded that this is enough, that he’s enough. 

 

He finally has a home, and a family to fill it.