He would recognise that voice anywhere, and he feels something inside his chest crumble a little just at the thought that he finally gets to see him.
Carlos tries to swallow rest of the smoothie he has been slowly drinking under Owen’s gaze. The taste of it is bitter, but still somehow almost sickeningly sweet and it is one of the worst things he has ever drank, but he cannot tell that to his boyfriend’s dad, who is only trying to make him feel better.
Carlos places the glass on the counter and turns around in his seat to see TK walking towards the kitchen of the firehouse. There is a smile tugging in the corner of TK’s mouth, but there is confusion in his eyes, and the perplexed expression just settles deeper when his gaze drops down onto his clothes.
“I told you he’d get back soon,” Owen tells him, as he takes another sip of the water.
“What are you doing here?” TK asks as soon as he reaches the kitchen. He stops close to the other chair next to him, but instead of sitting down, TK just stands there. His eyes travel up and down his body, and Carlos just knows he is trying to figure out if he has been hurt or injured in anyway.
“I’m fine,” Carlos says, under his breath, when TK’s eyes settle back to his face.
TK squints his eyes slightly, as if he didn’t truly believe his words.
“That’s a nice way to greet your boyfriend,” Owen remarks, but he sounds just amused and fond.
TK glares at his dad, but he ends up rolling his eyes fondly before pressing a kiss against Carlos’ temple. “I’m not complaining that you’re here, but you’re supposed to be at work.”
Ever since they took his badge and gun away, Carlos has felt strangely vulnerable. It is not as much about the physical objects of the badge and gun as much as it is about the feeling that they stripped a part of him away from him, and it left him feeling bare.
Carlos knows that part of that vulnerability comes from the feeling of betrayal that came from the way his colleagues treated him. Being suspended and giving up his gun and badge is protocol, he gets that. But they made him stay in that interrogation room for hours alone, as if he had committed the bank robbery himself, instead of just trying to do his job.
Trust is an essential part of teamwork in his job, and he has always had that with everyone he has worked with and he thought it was a mutual feeling, but as soon as his colleagues didn’t agree with one decision he made, they withdrew all the trust they had for him, and didn’t even consider for a moment that maybe he had been right to let the man go.
Instead of any sort of support, he was in the receiving in end of pity, disappointment and anger. His anxiety has been bubbling up ever since he let the man go but realizing that none of the people at his precinct were ready to have his back made him feel like the floor would have caved in underneath him.
Feeling the anxiety, betrayal and frustration blending into together made him miserable and even more vulnerable, and as soon as he stepped out of the station, he knew that there was only one person he wanted to, needed to, see, but now that TK is there, mere inches away from him, he doesn’t know what to say.
“They let me go earlier,” Carlos says, vaguely, and stares at the countertop as if it held all the secrets of the universe. Looking at it feels easier than looking at him for some reason.
“I’ll leave you two to it,” Owen says, and Carlos feels strong pang of gratefulness for him. He is already heading out of the kitchen, but he clasps his shoulder as he walks past him. “But Carlos, I meant what I said, and you’re welcomed to stay as long as you want here.”
He tears his gaze away from the kitchen counter and flashes a small smile at him. Owen’s voice sounds sincere, and he appreciates everything he said, but still the thought of that his boyfriend’s dad managed to offer him more support than his own dad makes something ugly wallow in the pit of stomach, but that is not his fault.
Owen nods as acknowledgement before leaving and by the sounds of it, it seems that he runs into Tommy and starts to talk about some call they were on earlier today, and their voices fade away quite quickly.
“Have you been here long?” TK asks, sliding into seat next to him. He immediately places his hand on his forearm and starts to stroke it slowly with his thumb.
“Maybe fifteen minutes,” Carlos replies with a shrug. “I came to see you.”
“But instead, you got my dad and his advice?” TK jokes and he pokes the empty, green-stained smoothie glass with his other hand. “I hope the advice was better than this.”
“Do you want to talk about it?” TK’s voice is soft and gentle, and Carlos can distinguish the puzzlement and curiosity underlying there, but he also knows if he said no, TK wouldn’t push it.
For some inexplicable reason, telling it to him feels a lot more difficult than it felt with Owen.
“I got suspended,” he breathes out, still looking down onto his hands, but he does glance at TK’s expression, too.
He raises his eyebrows slightly, out of surprise, but otherwise the same softness stays in his expression. The pace of his thumb moving along the fabric of his jacket picks up.
It’s a small difference, but Carlos appreciates more than he can tell that he isn’t assigning the blame immediately on him, even though he knows nothing about the situation.
“I went with my gut, and I probably shouldn’t have.”
It feels like the simplest version of the events. He wants to open his mouth and say something more, but he gets distracted by the bellowing sound of Judd’s laughter from the other side of the room and he can hear Marjan and Nancy joining in his laughter.
TK glances to the direction of his team with a faint smile on his lips, but he nods towards the other side of the firehouse. “Do you want to go somewhere more quieter?”
“Do you have time for it?” Carlos finds himself asking.
Of course, when he headed towards the firehouse, he knew TK was working, but somehow that he wasn’t there when he arrived and now seeing him in his uniform makes it seem more real and there is a voice in his head that keeps insisting that he is bothering him during work.
“As long as the alarm doesn’t go off,” TK replies, simply and effortlessly, as if he would otherwise always have all the time in the world to listen to him.
Carlos nods, and TK immediately hops off the chair and heads towards the stairs. Carlos silently follows him. The firehouse is big on the open concept idea and the place is filled with people, so he cannot imagine that privacy or quietness would be easy to come by, but TK leads him to a small corridor on the second floor.
It’s narrow and there is only one door at the end of it. Storage is written on bulky letters on it and even though the glass-wall offices of the captains are nearby, the corridor does feel calm. It is like a bubble of serenity in the otherwise buzzing firehouse.
There are black clap chairs piled up in the corner and TK swiftly picks up two of them. He places them rather close to the storage door, against the other wall, sits on the other one and holds out his other hand, waiting for Carlos to take it.
Carlos offers him a tiny smile as he takes the seat next to him and gently places his palm against TK’s and intertwines their fingers.
“I come here sometimes when it all becomes—too much,” TK explains, gesturing towards the plain walls. “I’m pretty sure that no one else knows I come here, but I trust you won’t go blabbering about this,” he jokes.
Carlos recognises what he is trying to do. The light joking and talking about something else entirely is just TK’s way of giving him the space and time he needs to recollect his thoughts and decide what to say and what to share.
It’s a small thing, but he feels immense gratitude in that moment, and for the first time since he watched the man leave the scene, he feels like breathing is a little easier. Like the metal ring of anxiety tightening around his chest finally eases up, just because of the grounding touch of his hand in his, and the way he talks to him and seems to consider what would be the easiest for him.
“I--,” Carlos starts, but suddenly rest of the words die in his throat and nothing comes out.
Carlos knows he isn’t technically allowed to speak about an on-going investigation with anyone, but he feels like something will explode in his chest and only leave ruins behind unless he gets to talk about it with him. Besides, he trusts him. Spousal privileges or whatever, he muses faintly, as he takes a deep breath while trying to organize his thoughts into at least something that resembles a coherent sentence.
He wants to talk to him. Not only because he knows that if he bottles this up it will end up affecting their relationship, but also because he has this selfish want of someone just to hold him and reassure that everything is going to alright and that he hasn’t ruined everything.
The only thing that holds him back is the slight fear of his reaction.
He knows TK loves him, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t still be disappointed in him. It would be ideal if TK could just promise that nothing he is about to say would make him disappointed, but that it is just absurd. He has disappointed TK before, and he has disappointed him before, and it is what happens in relationships, even though they try their best.
The previous disappointments were directly related to their fumbling in the relationship. Trying to figure out what they were and occasional missteps they have taken during the course of getting to know each other.
They have forgiven each and every time, but this time it feels different, because it is not about their relationship. This time it is plainly about the way he sees him. As a person and perhaps even more importantly, as someone he works with.
Disappointment is almost an irrational feeling, and he guesses that most feelings are, and it is impossible to control.
He wouldn’t blame TK if he was disappointed, but he doesn’t know if he can deal with the disapproval of a yet another person he loves and trusts.
TK seems to sense his reluctancy because he bumps his knee with his own and squeezes his hand tighter. “Take all the time you need, but you can tell me anything, you know? I’m not gonna just walk away from you, no matter what it is.”
Carlos lets out a bemused huff, but his words actually help to soothe his mind a little.
“We got this call in the morning,” he starts slowly, “a bank robber was on the run. Me and Mitchell found him in an alley, but he had this make-shift bomb vest. He kept telling us that he didn’t want to do any of it, but that he was forced to do it, because the bomb would go off unless he gave the money to the people who made him wear the west.”
He keeps his voice low, and he mostly keeps his gaze on the sickening shade of beige wall, but he glances him occasionally. TK seems to listen to him intently.
“The fear was genuine. He was truly terrified, like no one’s eyes gleam that way with terror unless they are fearing for their life. He started to talk about his son, and the love he has for his son just blend in with the terror, and my gut told me he was telling the truth. So, I let him go.”
Seconds pass in silence. He feels like his heart might burst just from the sheer uneasiness he feels as the length of the silence grows.
He doesn’t dare to look up and instead he just looks at his own knee. TK’s hand is still in his own and he is making no attempts to pull it away, but the silence that fell between them is killing him.
“Don’t give me that look,” Carlos murmurs, and he isn’t sure if he is even directly talking to him or just voicing his wish.
“What look? I’m not trying to give you any look,” TK finally says, his voice surprisingly kind.
“The one mixed with pity and disappointment,” Carlos clarifies, dragging his other hand along his face and resisting the urge to groan. He still doesn’t dare to look at him.
“I think you did the right call.”
TK sounds determined, but there is still certain effortlessness in the way he says it. As if it would be a fact that he doesn’t even doubt.
“You do?” Carlos asks, the words tumbling out of his mouth half-involuntarily.
He finally looks him in the eyes, and nothing about his expression has changed. It has grown only even more softer if it is even possible.
“Yeah, if you say that the man was truly fearing for his life, then I believe you. I’d trust my life in your hands, so trusting your instincts comes with that,” TK explains, stroking the back of his hand.
Hearing him talk does unfair things to his heart. His words make his heart flutter, and it feels like his whole body would be overflowing with love.
“You might be the only one who does,” Carlos says, eventually when he feels that he can trust his voice again, but the chuckle that escapes his throat sounds meek. “All the people I’ve worked with for—years think that I got played and don’t know how to do my job.”
“I’m sorry,” TK hums sympathetically, but he holds their intertwined hands higher and presses kisses along his fingers, knuckles and back of his hand.
Usually, his kisses send something resembling tiny electric shocks along his body, but now he can just feel the softness and love he has for him.
“There’s more,” Carlos continues sombrely, “bombs, fugitives and robberies belong to the jurisdiction of the Texas Rangers.”
“Shit,” TK curses under his breath, “is it your dad’s case?”
He just hums as a response. “The disappointment in his eyes was clear as day. He said that I don’t have the right instincts and he has always thought I’m too soft for the job, so I don’t even know why I expected a different reaction from him.”
“He’s wrong,” TK argues, almost immediately, but he lets out a long sigh, “but I get it. It’s always the case with parents. You love them, you want to give them the benefit of a doubt and think that maybe they’ve realised the error of their ways and changed. It stings because you still had a change to hope for something different.”
TK is definitely speaking to him, and Carlos can recognise his own feelings reflected in his words, but it also sounds like he is speaking from experience. He knows he is close with his parents, and it is evident that Gwyn and Owen love him, but there are cracks in their relationship, too.
“Yeah,” he agrees, breathlessly.
TK has forgiven him the incident at the farmers’ market, but still his stomach clenches with guilt when he thinks about the fact that he still hasn’t introduced him properly. TK has never made that guilt worse; he has stayed true to his promise of giving him as much time as he needs. But right now, Carlos thinks he might have made a wrong choice by trying to spare his parents’ feelings and his own relationship with them by not telling them about TK.
Another apology dies on his lips because TK continues to talk. “And I know it won’t undo the hurt that others have caused you today, but I’m so proud of you.”
TK reaches slightly to kiss the crown of his head. The slight kiss combined with the earnestness of his voice makes his stomach flip pleasantly and fill the hollow part of his heart with warmth.
“Even if I lose my job?” Carlos half-jokes, but his chuckle sounds hollow to his own ears, too.
“Even then,” TK promises, without missing a beat.
“That—helps, you know. To know that you don’t see me any differently.”
Carlos has always prided himself to be good at talking. He knows how to offer words of comfort to people and he knows how to de-escalate dangerous situations by talking people down from their impulses and plans. He likes to think he knows how to choose the right words and how to help people with them.
But this conversation, here and now, in the desolated firehouse corridor, is making him forget how to use words. It is like his tongue is getting twisted and all the words that come to mind feel inadequate to cover any of his feelings or thoughts.
He is rarely speechless, but every time it happens, it is with TK.
The only coherence and clarity in his head is currently love, relief and immense gratitude.
“You’re soft, but that’s not a bad thing. In our line of work, and especially yours, it is so easy to become cynical and always assume the worst, but the fact that you’re still gentle and want to see the best in people is amazing. That is not something to be ashamed of.”
The back of his eyes is starting to sting a little.
It is hardly the first time TK has complimented him, but this time it is hard not to overcome with emotion, because he is saying exactly what he has longed to hear all day, and he knows all of his words are laced with love.
“And today? You got into a horrible situation and you still tried your best to help and protect a person in distress. So, of course, I think the world of you,” he finishes, quietly.
Carlos can feel his soft gaze on him, travelling along his face.
Nothing that comes to mind feels eloquent enough, so he just kisses the edge of his cheekbone. He lets his lips linger there for a moment longer than necessary. Not having the words to express himself is odd, but it doesn’t bother him that much when it is with TK. Sometimes, Carlos is convinced that they don’t need just words to know what the other is feeling, that their connection runs deeper than that.
“I think I was right,” Carlos admits after a moment of silence, “or at least I want to think so, but it is difficult not to doubt my instincts.”
Carlos likes to think he is fairly confident person. Sure, he has his own fair share of insecurities and weaknesses, but he always tried his best not to let them affect the way he does his job. The need to prove himself has always driven him forward, but he never expected other people’s opinions to weigh this heavily on himself.
He knows it is because it is not just any random bunch of people. It’s his dad and his own colleagues.
“I’m not saying you shouldn’t feel frustrated or betrayed ‘cause you’ve every right to be upset,” TK says, leaning slightly against his shoulder, “and I get the whole responsibility aspect of it too, and questioning your own instincts might be a good thing ‘cause then you can truly assess if you did the right call, but don’t be too hard on yourself. I know it’s easier said than done, but you did your best.”
“I did,” Carlos confirms, “but that might not be enough.”
If he is being completely honest, he doesn’t care as much what happens to the stolen money as he cares whether people have gotten hurt. His guilt will grow exponentially if he finds out that someone has gotten hurt because of a call he has made. It is the reality of his job, but the thought of it still terrifies him.
“True, but it is all you can do. All-mightiness is not something that comes with the job even if we change people’s lives every day.”
“It’d be convenient if it did,” Carlos remarks, offering him a small, but knowing smile.
TK squeezes his hand in return. “Do you need something?”
There are a lot of things he needs, the top one being that someone would tell him that the bank robbery case ends happily without any injuries or casualties, but most of the things he needs are not attainable. Yet, at the same time, it already feels like he already has everything he needs in the narrow corridor.
TK is already leaning his shoulder against his, so Carlos tilts his head to right only by little, but he still ends up resting his head against TK’s. He can smell the faint scent of the coconut shampoo he uses. “Maybe just stay here for a moment.”
“We can do that.”
“I’m sorry for dumping all of this on you during your shift,” Carlos apologizes after a few moments of silence.
TK did reassure him that it was fine, and he did have time, but the pang of conscience doesn’t leave him alone as easily. Ever since the start of their relationship, they have tried to act professionally when they are at work. Occasional flirting and visiting each other’s stations is something they have done always, but literally dragging him away from his work just listen to and comfort him feels different.
“I’m glad you came,” TK murmurs, “and like dad said, you’re always welcome, and you should do this more often.”
“Get suspended?” He half-jokes.
TK mock-elbows him into his thigh. “No, but you should stop putting me always first in this relationship.”
At first, Carlos isn’t sure if he heard him right. He tries to think what may have caused TK to think that way, but he just stays quiet when he comes up with nothing.
“Sometimes,” TK continues, almost tentatively, “it feels like you tend to consider my feelings before you allow yourself to open up about things that are upsetting you or making you angry. I don’t mind that you’re looking out for me, it’s actually really sweet, but I need you to know that you can tell me anything, and there’s no need to filter or dilute your feelings just because you think it’s easier for me to handle that way.”
The more he thinks about his words, more convinced he becomes that there is a grain of truth in them. Carlos never outright told him how much it hurt when he walked out from their first dinner. The farmers’ market incident and the subsequent fight might have been avoided if he just opened up to TK about his relationship with his parents instead of dodging the questions of when he can meet them as long as possible.
There are countless smaller examples too about tough days at work, but he can honestly say, he has not thought about it that way when he has done it.
“I—do that,” he admits, almost abashedly and he hears the slight note of surprise in his own voice, too.
He cannot tell if it is a conscious thing or not. He can trust that TK will be there for him when he needs him, and he hasn’t doubted that fact in ages. He supposes it stems from the idea of not wanting to be too much or burden him unnecessarily.
“I know protecting people is a big part of who you are. It’s like wanting to help people is a part of me, but you can come to me and vent about your day and just want someone to comfort you. I don’t want you to feel like you’ve to second-guess whether you can do that with me.”
His words are carefully chosen, and it is starting to sound like TK has offered some thought into it prior to this conversation, too, and Carlos isn’t quite sure how to explain the kind of emotion it awakens in him.
“When they let me go from the station, my first thought was that I needed to see you, and I just went with it.”
It is the truth, and he wants him to know that he isn’t intentionally trying to keep him at arms’ length or try to hide anything that is going on with him.
“I told you you’ve got good instincts,” TK jokes, but the affection shines through it.
Carlos just rolls his eyes, fondly, but it is impossible to stop the wave of warmth that washes over his chest.
“I’m not trying to make you feel guilty about it,” TK adds, turning his head a little to flash him an affectionate smile that reaches his eyes. TK rises his index and middle finger of the hand he is not holding and gently pokes him in-between the eyebrows. “I just want to make sure you don’t get too stuck in your own head.”
“I know that you’re there,” he replies, easily, and rests their intertwined hands against his own thigh, “and that you’ll catch me if I fall.”
TK smile is delighted, and despite all of his thoughts colliding and crashing together, it doesn’t escape his mind that TK looks truly stunning in his new uniform. It almost like this one fits him better. The paramedic uniform hugs the curve of his shoulders and his triceps more tightly. It might also be that TK’s happiness about his new position fills up the uniform better.
Or it may be that Carlos is just head over heels in love with him, and he would look beautiful in anything.
His phone pings. The sound is almost harsh as it breaks the silence. He fishes out his phone from the pocket and he mindlessly stares at the bright screen that displays the text his dad just sent him.
“I should go. My dad wants me back to the precinct in a couple of hours,” Carlos tells him, stuffing the phone back to the pocket, “he might just want to ask more questions.”
TK nods, but he lets go off his hand. Instead, he places his palm on his knee and squeezes it slightly. “Hey, you got this.”
Carlos isn’t entirely sure if that is true, but he does feel considerably better than he did when arriving to the firehouse.
He is almost reluctant to leave the corridor and TK because it feels like everything is a little better in their tiny corner, and that the harshness and heaviness of the situation will come crashing back down as soon as he leaves.
Carlos is not exactly left with options, so he stands up, but he stops when TK’s fingers curl around his wrist.
“Wait,” he says, but he is sliding his other hand underneath the collar of his own uniform. His fingers are on the chain of his necklace and he yanks it from underneath of his clothes. For a moment, it just hangs there, against his chest, but he pulls it over his head, too. The necklace hangs from in between his fingers, and he hands it towards Carlos. “You should take this.”
Carlos’ eyes dart between the silver necklace and TK’s face.
Carlos knows exactly how damn much the necklace means to him. TK is always wearing it, and it is such a constant thing in his appearance and presence, that in Carlos’ mind, the necklace has inherently become a part of him. The way the necklace presses between their chests when they are kissing. The way it gleams when the first rays of sunshine hit it when they wake up together in bed. The way he has run his thumb along the chain of it countless times.
The only time he has seen him without it was when he was lying in the hospital bed after getting shot.
It is with a startle that Carlos realises that TK is lending the necklace to him because he knows Carlos views it as a part of him. He wants to give him a tangible part of him, just to comfort him.
“Are you sure?” Carlos asks, because he doesn’t want him to do anything he isn’t fully comfortable with, and somehow this little gesture feels big and profound. “I’ve never seen you taken this off voluntarily.”
“Maybe I haven’t had good enough reason yet,” TK says, winking. “But seriously, you’re having a bad day and I want to be there for you, and if you have this,” he continues with a softer tone as he waves the chain from side to side,” then I can be with you at least in some way.”
“That’s—thank you,” Carlos replies quietly, and it sounds inadequate to his own words, but as he looks up from the necklace, and judging by TK’s affectionate and bright smile, he might have gotten the point across anyway.
“It’s okay,” TK reassures, smiling disarmingly.
Carlos opens up his palm and TK places it carefully in the middle of it. He doesn’t know the entire story behind the necklace. He knows the pendant has the number of the firehouse TK worked in New York engraved into it and that he always wears it. Carlos isn’t sure what has made him to wear it every day, but he knows the importance and significance of it.
It feels like he is holding something immeasurably precious in his hand, and in a way, it feels like he is holding all the trust and faith TK has in him in his hands.
Carlos carefully puts it on his neck, slipping it underneath his t-shirt. The chain is long, and it feels slightly warm against his skin, but pendant of it rests against his chest, approximately where his heart is. The thought of it alone makes him smile.
TK is studying him with his gaze, but a gradual grin appears on his lips. “It looks good on you.”
Carlos resist the urge to huff amusedly, because there is no way TK is getting more than a glimpse of the chain near the collar of his jacket, but he supposes it is the thought that counts.
“I will take care of it,” Carlos says, and he intends it as a vow.
The necklace means the world to TK, and for him, right now, it actually might mean more than that, and he wants him to know it.
“I know,” he replies, easily, leaning into his seat a little. “It’s not the first thing I’ve given you.”
“My heart,” TK clarifies, with a brilliant smile, as he stands up too. He loosely wraps his arms around Carlos’ waist. “You’ve taken pretty good care of it, too.”
He is tired and the emotional turmoil inside of him is stark and confusing, but still his smile and words manage to make his heart somersault.
“You have mine, too,” Carlos admits softly and kisses his forehead. He gestures towards the necklace on his neck. “And I’m giving you this back when you get off shift. The other one I’m not going to give back.”
“Hmh, good,” he hums, approvingly, “the other thing is definitely non-returnable. It’s yours now.”
His heart is no longer somersaulting, it is has moved onto do something that feels like a full gymnastic routine.
Carlos loves him with everything he has, and it still feels like a privilege that he took a chance of them after agonizing heartbreak, and obviously he is going to cherish his heart and love. It is not exactly terrible fate if ends up spending forever doing it.
“Thank you for all of this,” he whispers, melting into his touch slightly more.
“Of course,” TK replies without hesitation. He places his fingers to the base of his skull, and it is exactly where he is holding all the tension, and Carlos isn’t sure if it something that TK knows or if he accidently managed to find his sore stress spot. He wouldn’t be surprised if it is the former. Yet, he almost shivers under the touch of his fingertips gently digging into his tense muscles.
“And I didn’t say any of that just because I’m supposed to be in your corner. I said all of that because I genuinely believe in everything I just said.”
Carlos knows it. He is also aware that his flirting and small love confessions are genuine and earnest, but also a way to distract him from everything for a few moments. It works, too.
“I love you.”
“I love you, too,” TK replies, kissing the corner of his mouth briefly and placing another kiss on his shoulder, while Carlos kisses his temple. “Text me if anything happens?”
They make it to end of the corridor until Carlos stops abruptly. TK instinctively stops too, but he shoots a puzzled look at him.
“Hey, I never asked. How is your day?”
He guesses it is understandable that he got a little caught up with his own issues, but as soon as the idea of not asking about his day gets stuck in his head, he cannot shake it off.
TK laughs, quietly and disbelief colours it slightly. “I found out something,” he says, sounding suddenly more grave, and Carlos doesn’t miss the way TK’s gaze darts towards the direction of his dad’s office. He flashes him a quick smile. “But that can wait. I’ll tell you when I get hom--,” TK valiantly tries to swallow the rest of the word, but he fails miserably. “I’ll tell you when I come over.”
“Are you sure?” Carlos asks, trying his best to bite down his smile.
He needs to get down to the precinct at some point, but he isn’t in such hurry that he wouldn’t have enough time to listen what is on his heart.
However, the only clarity in his mind currently is home.
The light weight of his necklace against his skin feels like home, too.
It is unbelievable how much a small word can cause such blinding and warm happiness. He cannot quite interpret whether TK seems to be relieved or disappointed that he didn’t pick up on his slip.
“Okay,” he replies, kissing his head one last time before heading towards the stairs. Carlos stops before the first step and turns around. “You know, you can call it home, too,” he calls out to him, softly, before going down the stairs.
None of his stress or anxiety has magically evaporated into thin air, but his heart feels a bit lighter when TK’s delighted chuckle follows him down the stairs.