Night Fox shouldn’t have done it. After all of this time-he had to KNOW by now.
When he cupped his partner’s face and breathed a kiss on to his lips it-
It did things to his lizard brain. And it was not fair because it was not his fault. He couldn’t possibly, in any plane of existence, be expected to-
-‘Reason’ or ‘think’ at this moment.
It wasn’t to be a passion play exactly. These were the moments he loved: Perched on a low rooftop, in his arms…
Agent Twilight loved his life.
Gio’s eyes shot open and struggled to match the lack of light. When he made out unfamiliar patterns and furniture in his sight he let reality just stomp on his heart like an elephant. He swore it was so powerful it actually hurt his spine. It wouldn’t surprise him really considering how deeply in love he was (still is) with Paul.
His eyes left the balled up bunch of clothes on the vanity that wasn’t his and focused on the doorway of the room. Wrong color of course.
Again, he was confused. Judging the time by his internal clock it was way past the time for any of them to be asleep. He’d heard her outside of her room late at night before but she always passed his-the guest room to go to her mother. He wasn’t certain if it was his situation making it difficult for him to catch up to reality or lack of sleep as of late. After all-who wanted to be drenched in the dreams of a love that just couldn’t be? It did nothing for him.
“I’m sorry were you asleep?”
“Yeah, but its fine.”
It was only then that he remembered the past few hours. The Meta Legion had called Aso out of retirement to pursue Batu and Eli. Cosmic Champion had been called to an emergency across the city so Dion wasn’t here either.
“Is something wrong?”
“I-I had a nightmare.”
The young girl finally stepped into the room fully. She had on a pair of shorts and her large Highway Unicorn sleeping shirt, which was normal but she had her legs locked stiff, her normally warm cocoa eyes were faded and her hair, instead of done up like normal was hanging down around her face with an occasional part defying gravity here and there. It was honestly adorable. Clutched in her arms was her favorite stuffed animal, Lint Zeppelin. All were bad signs.
Gio pushed the green blanket (wrong) off of him and turned to sit up on the edge of the bed. Not his-guest room-guest bed.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
The girl dropped her gaze to the floor and shifted her socked feet back and forth for a long ten seconds before she looked back up.
“I don’t know. Do you talk about yours?”
Figures. She knew.
He frowned, “No. I don’t.”
Silence settled. He stared at Zari, she blinked, tilted her head sideways so that her hair fell to that side and her eyes took on a bit of the old warmth she had shined with days previously when he had first come to stay with the Jenkins. She smiled despite the silence and even if it was an uncomfortable, awkward smile it was a smile and that made it all a little better. Somehow.
“Uh, I’m kind of hungry Mr. Taviani. Are you? Mom showed me how to make grilled cheese and since neither of us can sleep?”
Her face fell.
“-believe a good grilled cheese could get my mind off of my dreams,” Gio finished with a smile.
And it was contagious because she smiled a bit wider and it caused his grin to grow and it went back and forth until she was giggling and he was laughing as he climbed to his feet and crossed the carpeted floor. Zari’s giggling fell to breathlessness before she released her tight hold on Lint Zeppelin with one arm and held out her hand to him. He smiled a bit wider and reached out to take the small hand in his own as his laughter quieted too.
“So you make a mean midnight grilled cheese sandwich huh?”
“You bet Mr. Taviani!”
“OK Zari, but please-call me Gio.”
The girl beamed as she guided him down the hallway and towards the kitchen.
“OK. Gio. My favorite grilled cheese is with swiss-what’s yours?”
“Uh, provolone or muenster.”
“Oh good we have both, though muenster’s such a weird cheese don’t you think?”
“I guess it is,” he said with a smile.
Later, when they had created and consumed every variety fried cheese sandwich with every cheese the Jenkins family possessed, the duo settled on the living room couch and Zari turned on the TV series: Night Fox. Gio was certain he hadn’t made any noise but when Zari asked if they could watch Highway Unicorn instead-he didn’t hesitate to give it his vote. So late into the early next morning he ended up with Zari leaning against him, clutching Lint Zeppelin loosely to her chest with a wide smile on her face. Filled with magic midnight grilled cheeses and good dreams-she slept peacefully.
As for Gio though, he scooped up the remote, turned the volume down on the TV and switched the channel back to Night Fox. He managed five seconds of staring at the actor who did his best to replicate Paul. It wasn’t enough. Not nearly enough. So he switched back to Highway Unicorn. It honestly wasn’t that bad for a children’s show. He could have gone back to bed but there was nothing but bad dreams there. Besides, he didn’t want to disturb his companion.
There were things he had to think about anyways. Not Paul. Not at all. All of that was-the past. Once upon time he had lived in the city. Maybe it was time to call on some old friends he had known.
But for now-he’d just focus on the taste of mozzarella clinging to his tongue and the burn of pepper jack at the back of his throat. His life was a problem to be dealt with.
But for now…
Just for now…
Zari Jenkins. Grilled cheese. Highway Unicorn.
It made him smile.