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Learning Not to Be Silent

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"We should have a slumber party," Josh declares one day, straight out of the blue in a peaceful moment under a tree on the school lawn.

"Oh yeah?" Julian says, shifting in place and schooling his face not to break into a smirk immediately. He turns the page of the comic book he has open against Josh's back. "Why do you think so?"

"You guys had one after Limbo, right?" Josh says, twisting around and pushing the comic book down so Julian will look at him--Hellion makes a faint noise of complaint. Josh gives his best pout. "I don't want to be left out this time."

"You were having your thing, remember?" Julian tries to find the panel he was on. "All existential and shit. And I didn't get too involved with the sleepover either because I was snapping you out of it."

"Yeah, well," Josh mutters. With a mighty effort he smothers his glowing blush as he remembers how most of the snapping-out process went. He lets the comic be for the moment to get up and pace. "That just means you should be invested too." He turns on his heel and snaps his fingers at Julian. "Slumber party," he insists.

"I don't think it was a real slumber party so much as camping out in the rec room for a night," Julian says, but as Josh opens his mouth to argue, he surprises him by saying, "But okay."

"Really?" Josh says, lighting up.

"Sure." Julian puts the comic aside. "Don't plan a big affair though," he warns, cracking his knuckles absently.

"Why not?"

"I have a feeling--well. I just don't think the turnout will be so great. Focus on the slumber rather than the party." Hellion shrugs. He watches Josh return again to close his comic on the ground, which is ridiculous because it's a single issue and has no hard spine to protect. Someone's spent too much time with David. "We can just hang out with some sleeping bags, some iPod speakers, and a deck of cards."

"Sounds perfect," Josh enthuses. He gets back down on all fours and kisses Julian on the nose. "Watch out, 'cause I'm gonna invite everyone."
"I can't believe no one came around but us." Josh fiddles listlessly with the radio settings on the speakers from on top of his sleeping bag. On the next sleeping bag, which was zipped together with Josh's in one of the many moments of boredom so far, Julian sighs. He watches his deck of playing cards shuffle and reshuffle itself in a glow of green.

"Told you, bro. Didn't want you to get too worked up."

"But why?" Josh nearly whines. "We picked a great night and everything."

Julian sits up and runs his hand through his hair. "It's Cessily. I knew she was going to do this, I just didn't want to bum you out or anything. My bad, I guess."

"Cessily? She ruined my party?" Josh says, wounded. He hadn't expected her to do something like that--she's never seemed sour at him for having to share Julian with him before, so why--?

Julian snorts, surprising Josh, and looks away. "Uh, look, it's kind of an embarrassing explanation."

"Embarrassing?" Josh repeats blankly.

Julian shifts awkwardly. "Look, she just--she doesn't mean anything by it. She just, you know, saw we were fighting, and this is her way of--when she heard it was you and me planning this, she probably went to everyone like 'I'll kick your ass if you don’t’--y'know--'leave those two alone for the evening.'"

"What? Oh. Oh.." Josh stares into space for a moment. "She ruined my party so we would have a date night alone?"

Julian nods gravely, opening a bag of chips. "She's been bugging me about not taking you on any dates. So." He gestures to their setup of sleeping bags, scattered cards, and a radio on the roof. "Here we are."

Josh thinks about it. "Well, that's sweet," he muses finally, settling down onto the sleeping bag. "Sort of."

“Yeah.” Julian throws some chips into his mouth. He rolls over to look at Josh. “So what do you want to do, other than play War for the gazillionth time?"

Josh mulls it over. “We should get to know each other."

“We do know each other."

"Boyfriends should know each other better than we do. I only knew you for a few weeks when we first met and after that we weren't looking for details.” Josh shrugs. “Maybe we could just. Talk."

"Talk?" Julian says skeptically. "Like, in a serious way? About ourselves?"


"I don’t know how good at that we would be," Hellion snorts, as Josh gives up on the radio and turns on an iPod playlist instead. "We’re asshole teenage boys, talking about feelings is like pulling teeth."

"Well, I figure we've gone through enough bullshit because of stuff we never talked over, that we should." Josh directs his piercing blank gaze into Julian's eyes. "Talk. Or learn to."

Julian's unsettled by his intensity for a moment, but shrugs it off. "Well, let's talk about how shitty your music is," he says, climbing over Josh to wrest iPod control from him. "Soft emo Wonderwall type crap—"

"Hey! Driver picks the music," Josh shouts, trying to push Julian away. "Shotgun shuts his pie hole!"

"It’s cake hole! Cake hole," Julian growls. "At least put on some fucking classic rock if you’re going to misquote my shows."

“See, this is what I meant, bonding through learning about each other’s interests.” Josh puts Julian into a headlock. “Aren’t you feeling the love already?”

"You’re a dick and I’m putting on Bon Jovi," Julian mutters, freeing himself telekinetically and scrolling through Josh’s music.

“Okay, I guess that’s fair.” Josh pushes Julian back to the other half of the sleeping bag bed. “Provided you don’t want me to sing you ‘Fix You' by Coldplay."

“Your voice won't be able to take it."

“'How to Save a Life' by The Fray?"

Julian blinks at him. "Wow. Harsh."

Josh thinks about it for a moment. "Wow, yeah, guess so. Never mind then."

They lie back and stare at the purplish dusk sky.

"I never knew you were that broken up over Laurie," Julian says after a while. "Not to be like, I didn't think you really cared about her, but you were so... mad. Killing the guy is one thing, but killing all of them..."

Josh sighs and folds his hands over his chest. "You don't get it." He looks away. "I just miss her so much."

"I do get it," Julian retorts. "You're not the only one had someone you loved die under your hands, asshole."

Josh glares at him. "Who, Brian? At least you got to say goodbye."

Julian glares back, and then pauses, shifts his weight, and turns back to the emerging stars. "Yeah. Guess I did."

There is a pause as they consider the universe.

"So you really loved her, huh?" Julian says, contemplative.

"Well," says Josh. "I don't know about that. We were just like--we hadn't gone through as much. It was different then."

Julian elbows him. "God, you don't have to act like you're fucking sixty-two about it. We get enough of that 'you're too young to have real feelings that matter' bullshit from adults without us telling ourselves the same thing. I loved Sofia," he declares.

"Really?" Elixir says skeptically, propping himself on an elbow to look down at Julian. "You loved her?"

“Yes, I loved her,” Julian retorts. “What do you want me to fucking say, it didn’t matter? It wasn’t real because I hadn’t been to literal Hell yet, and we never got together, and nobody had fucking died before my god damn eyes? Me and Sofia, that was about as much as I'd ever fucking felt before. That was what love was for me. So yeah, I fucking loved her, you cock."

“Wow,” Josh says softly after a pause. “That was kind of beautiful, Julian. If it didn’t come out of your shit mouth I mean."

“Shut the fuck up, I’m a god damn fount of poetry and you know it," says Julian, rolling into Josh so he collapses onto his back. Half on top of Josh, Julian goes to kiss him.

Josh laughs. “Don’t kiss me while we’re talking about our ex-girlfriends," he says, shoving Julian off. Julian laughs too, and they laugh together until they fade into warm silence.

"I haven't laughed about Laurie since she died," Josh says softly.

"I didn't know her too well," Julian says. "Sofia loved her to pieces though. Would choose her over me ten times out of ten. Never knew what you two saw in that girl."

"'Course you didn't," says Josh, elbowing Julian. "She was shy, if you ever bothered trying to talk to her she wouldn't have been able to get a word in past you wanting to hear yourself talk."

“Yeah, yeah, I'm a piece of shit, I know.” Julian waves a hand dismissively. “I'm sure you were so good at listening to her and being sensitive and shit too."

“Fuck off, I tried,” Josh says, crossing his arms. “Look, this is me doing that, with you."

“Yeah, well, see? That's what I'm saying, it's not easy, but we're better at it now.” Julian bumps his head sideways against Josh's, then stops to ponder. “You think Sofia might have said goodbye if I'd been better?" he says, quieter. “Less of an asshole?"

Josh takes Julian's hand, not sure what to say.

“Do you ever miss her? Sofia?” Julian asks, covering his chest with his other arm, as if to hide his heart. “You were her friend too. Hell, she probably liked you better than me because you never gave her as much shit."

Josh snorts. “I give everyone plenty of shit," he says. “But yeah, I miss her. She was wonderful. Y’know, but just enough of an asshole to be worth liking."

Julian contemplates the stars. "I'm glad she's alive out there somewhere."

“Me too.” Josh squeezes Julian's hand, and Julian tilts their heads together and closes his eyes for a moment.

Then he's rolling up onto his side. “So as long as we're being hella deep and fucking depressing, I've been thinking that sooner or later I should do the boyfriendly thing and give you a shot at explaining the Reavers thing to me. Why you did it." He twists his mouth. “Which, I don’t want to really, but I never gave you a chance to be heard out."

Josh looks at him warily. “Really?"

“Yeah.” Julian runs a hand through his own hair with a sigh. "Impress me with your good intentions, O healer of puppies."

The problem with that is there were no good intentions, but Josh tells his story anyway. Julian seems deeply unimpressed, but doesn't interrupt.

“Well that was a shit story," he says when Josh finishes.

"Yeah. Sorry." Josh runs his hands over his face and into his hair. “I just fucked up. Real bad."

Julian frowns and drums his fingers, looking terribly unsatisfied.

"I never hated mutants, if that helps," Josh says despondently. "I just--fuck, I was just stupid, and I needed everyone to like me, you know how I am."

Julian stares determinedly into space before his composure breaks and his lips twitch up. “Like last week when you were everyone's water boy."

“Exactly like that,” Josh half laughs. “Because I’m an idiot."

"Yeah, you are." Julian rolls back over to lie next to Josh. "Go ahead. keep convincing me."

"I never hurt anyone," Josh offers. "And when I ratted Sofia out, not only did I save the only one who got hurt, but a bunch of Reavers got taken out. Even Pierce."

"Healing powers are convenient like that." Julian walks his fingers up Josh's arm.

"I've helped more than my fair share of mutants too," Josh continues, struggling not to smile now. "If you think about it, I'm actually a credit to mutantkind."

"My hero," croons Julian. "I'd say I can never stay mad at you, only obviously I can." He rolls on top of Josh. “Just not right now."
"I'll make sure to do something really heroic just to seal the deal," Josh says after kissing Julian briefly. His fingertips brush Julian's sides. "Cure mutant cancer."

"You'd better," Julian says, and closes his eyes to rest his head on Josh's shoulder. "And stop killing people, you ass."

"Maybe I should. Do you think I could have worked things out with Duncan if I hadn't?" Josh wonders morosely, nuzzling Julian's hair.

"Ugh, why would you want to?" Julian grumbles. "He was a bigot. He outed you and beat you and was a for real bigot."

“I guess." Josh sighs and tilts his head away. "I just--well, Laura told me all the Reavers are dead now. So I guess I know. But it still doesn't feel like anything really got resolved."

"Wait, X talked to you?" Julian sits up and stares.

"Yeah? Guess she realized that the Reaver shit had to do with me. Hard not to, with my reaction, I guess." Josh catches the look Julian's giving him and says, "What? Laura's nice."

"For a weirdo clone you mean," Julian snorts.

"For anyone," Josh argues, getting to his hands and knees to forage for food. "Saved your dumb ass a few times."

"Not my fault she's obsessed with me," Julian says, crossing his arms.

"That's her trying to make friends. She felt most comfortable approaching you for some reason, you don't have to be a complete ass about it." Josh examines the chips' nutrition label gravely. "Maybe I'll make friends with her, just to show you."

"Ugh. Josh Foley: taker of charity cases, savior of lost kittens, some poor sap’s annoying boyfriend," Julian exclaims, gesturing widely.

Josh swats at him. "Not a charity case. A friend."

"Whatever you say." Julian frowns. "Hey, why is it we still just talk about girls when we get together alone?"

"We must not be very good at being gay together," Josh says, smirking at the thought, abandoning the chip back to the elements.

"Let's practice," Julian says, wiggling his eyebrows. When Josh laughs, he drags him in for a kiss, and that's the end of the chatter for quite a while.

Chapter Text

Julian smiles down at Josh, face and pale body lit almost entirely by Josh's own glow, throwing sharp shadows past Julian's gorgeously high cheekbones. It's almost embarrassing, Josh unable to hide how he's glowing head to toe like an oversized nightlight, but he can't bring himself to care. Julian has that predatory, hungry look in his eye, eyes that are glowing green with arousal.

He drags the pads of his fingers with purpose down Josh’s chest just to make him gasp and arch at the sensation. Elixir feels every touch go directly to his pleasure centers. In the intimacy his sensitivity is heightened to the soft itch of the blankets, the brush of Julian's calves against his thighs; he can even sense Julian’s capillaries expanded and his heart rate up. Every fingertip draws a hot stripe of electricity down his body, leaves a streak of brighter light, and it's good, so good.

Julian’s hands settle at his hips and his thumbs rub circles inside them, reaching too teasingly long but not far enough. Hellion nuzzles at Josh’s cheek, oh God, he can feel his stubble from not shaving and the gentle irritation is another wave of sensation, an arousing burn on his face.

Julian whispers in his ear something about how gorgeous and fuckable Josh is. Josh can't be sure; he doesn't process it quite with his language centers so much as his cock, which aches wonderfully.

Then Julian’s biting him just hard enough to drive him crazy in delicious short nips, around the shell of his ear down to the lobe and then under his jaw, down his neck. He tilts his head to inhale Josh’s scent, just for a moment, and then starts sucking at his skin, small points of stinging pain and perfect pleasure.

“God, you make me so fucking wet,” Julian growls against Josh's skin. His gentle rubs at Josh’s hips turn into bruisingly-tight gripping, and one knee forces Elixir's legs apart. Josh is gasping by now; he can feel the blanket held tight between his fingers because he can’t help but grasp it for dear life. His heels dig in and his toes curl. Everything is so much, so much--
“Jesus Christ,” Julian mumbles, elbowing a slumbering Josh for the second time. He’s been making noise in his sleep for ages. At first Julian had thought it was a nightmare, and was about to wake him, but then he had mumbled Julian’s name.

Julian, of course, had been instantly curious. He wasn’t sure if Josh usually talked much in his sleep, but it was worth a shot to take a listen. He’s not a telepath or a god damn saint, so he doesn’t know what's in Josh’s head and fucking sue him if he kind of wants to know.

At first Josh makes little noises, but then he starts expanding into dumb Josh-like phrases like 'capillaries're expanded', and 'heart rate mffghfn'. By the time Julian picks up the pattern--'pupils dilated and active mucous pr--fngggh oxytocin--', it's too late. Josh has started outright moaning, and breathing harder in his sleep.

Julian's at a loss of what to do, here with his boyfriend apparently having a fucking sex dream that might be--"Julian," Josh groans--definitely is about him in some way. He feels like he's intruding, or being voyeuristic, or something, but that's stupid. This is his boyfriend, and it's not like he planned for this to happen.

He's still mulling over what to do when Josh rolls over and yep, he's hard, of fucking course he is, why is this a surprise? But it does catch Julian off guard, because that's a dick, that's his boyfriend's dick, that's a dick that theoretically he has rights to and wow no. Nope. That is not a thing happening or being thought about right now.

Hellion turns around to unzip the sleeping bags and make his valiant escape, but Josh makes a noise of complaint. He wraps his arms around Julian's waist, and they're fucking spooning now. Josh nuzzles his face into Julian’s neck and sighs softly against his skin and it's fucking perfect actually. Julian almost never wants to move.

Josh has to have fucking conditioned him to his touch or something because Julian fucking loves it. Josh’s hands are gently holding his sides with his arms wrapped snugly around him, and his thigh shifts against Julian's knee. He's so warm. It's heaven, complete with the stupid golden glow, except for the frigging cock hard at the back of Julian's thighs.

What if Josh gets going with rubbing? Could he fuck between Julian’s thighs in his sleep? What's that fetish called? Intercrul—intercl--something. Which actually sounds--it sounds--Julian's not thinking about this. About Josh rocking against him, holding him close, hands clutching at him, moaning. Not even a little.

Look, they haven't even talked about sex, which no fucking duh they haven't because even bringing up his downstairs situation, fucking forget that, even if they are supposed to talk now.

Julian has a lot to say about what he doesn't want to do, and what if Josh doesn't take it well and does want to do it and tries to talk him into it, not even being an asshole about it just trying to convince him, and--
Julian's hyperventilating.

“Julian, please,” Josh murmurs, and now he’s shaking. Fuck it, okay? Fuck it. Morning wood's a thing, right, you get a boner during REM sleep or fucking stage four delta sleep, whichever one, it's probably fucking nothing. There are a million dreams Josh could be having that involve Julian.

He just needs a moment to work out what he's going to fucking say when he wakes Josh up, that's all.
Julian is kissing Josh’s neck with lips grown fat from pressing them hard against his lips and body. His teeth and tongue flick at Josh’s pulse point. Julian shifts his legs against Josh's and drops to his elbows, bringing them chest to chest, situated between Josh's thighs. Josh forgets how to breathe--his erection brushes Julian's pubic hair.

Julian slips his hands up Josh's body slowly, appreciatively, his eyes following their path. Finally he tangles one hand in Josh’s hair and jerks him up by the jaw with the other to kiss him. His lips are passionate and move at just the right speed. It’s wet and hot and perfect.

“I want to fuck you so bad,” Julian murmurs in a low husky tone that makes Josh moan. He snaps his fingers and Josh’s hands are dragged together above his head and telekinetically bound; he swallows and his heart misses a few beats, and Julian has that smile again.

“All mine," he murmurs, running a hand over Josh’s chest and down to his neck. “You’re so sexy, Foley," he intones, rubbing the other hand down Josh’s thigh and back up the inside of it.

“Please,” Josh whispers, not sure what he's asking for.

Julian slips down his body and pulls Josh’s legs over his shoulders; his thighs are shaking. Julian licks and nips the underside of Josh's knee, which is arousing in ways Josh never would have expected.

Julian licks a stripe up the inside of his thigh and then starts again at his knee, biting and sucking his way up. Josh thinks to turn off his healing locally and lean up as far as he can to watch brownish hickeys form; Julian notices him looking and meets his eyes, mouth still fixed on sensitive skin, and Josh has never seen eyes that dark with lust. It sets his head spinning.

Julian notices the hickeys and begins to kiss them individually. "I like these," he says. "Maybe I'll hold you so hard you bruise, huh?" The green handcuffs tighten. "Maybe I'll fuck you raw, make you wake up brown."

"I love you," Josh whimpers. It's not what he'd meant to say. It's what he means. Julian just smiles that same smile and bears down so low his tight stomach is pressed against Josh's cock, and grinds.

Josh cries out and arches up against him. "Fuck, Julian!"

"Mm-hmm," Julian hums, smugly satisfied, running his nails down Josh's thigh. "Scream for me, baby."

"Touch me," Josh begs. "Please!"

Julian runs a single finger down the line of Josh's hair from his navel, plays with the white curls of his pubic hair. "How bad do you want it?" he teases, so collected while Josh is shaking apart. “Tell me."

“I want it so bad--please, I need it! I want--want you--more than anything."

“Hmm,” Julian considers, tilting his head with a seductively evil smile. “All right.” He leans in at Josh’s ear. “But only because you’re so hot when you beg.” One hand props him up and the other starts moving tantalizingly slowly down the middle of Josh's chest--
"Wake the fuck up!"

Josh stirs vaguely and Julian kicks him again. He's rolled over to face Josh, shoved his arms away, and is whispering, "Swear to god I'll kill you, fucking murder you." He's about to kick again when Josh opens white eyes languidly.

"Julian," Josh breathes, and when Julian goes to say 'No shit, Foley,' he finds his lips already in use. Josh brushes Julian's hair back behind his ear and then twists his knuckles into it with the same passion he presses himself against Julian with: a completely unprecedented fervor.

Julian pushes Josh off him, face hot. "Jesus!" he hisses, and then finds his next complaint dead in his throat as a mussy-haired, eyelids-low Josh groggily licks their saliva from his lips.

“Hey,” Josh says, nudging closer. “Kiss me."


"Let's make out. I'm really fucking horny."

"Yeah, I know you are, asshole," Julian snaps, remembering himself. "You nearly started dry-humping me in your sleep a minute ago."

Josh pauses. His pale irises, barely visible, stay focused on Julian's mouth for a moment, and then snap up to his eyes. "What?" He comes more alert now and sits up, getting his bearings more fully. "Shit. Shit, I'm fucking--I'm totally hard right now."

"No shit!"

"I must have been in REM sleep, so I--" He breaks off and flushes brighter as the memory of the dream comes back. Josh shuffles awkwardly back toward his side of the sleeping bag. "Was I, uhm--did I say anything?"

Julian turns red. "N-no," he says hastily, then backpedals, "Just some m-medical bullshit, I didn't--" He aggressively looks away. "Nothing."

"Oh God." Josh covers his face. "I was talking and moaning, wasn't I?" He peeks between his fingers. "Seriously, what was it?"

"It was--you could tell it was a wet dream," Julian admit, rubbing his neck. "You know, involving. Present company."

"Shit," Josh says loudly, flopping down on the roof. "Shit, that is so embarrassing. God, I'm sorry. And we haven't even--mother fuck."

"Haven't even is right," Julian mutters, feeling an unexpected rush of mixed emotion, and he slips out of the bag entirely and turns away to sit on the cold roof. He starts pulling on his shirt and hoodie, which he had discarded before settling in to sleep.

"Julian?” Josh says, sitting up in confusion. “You okay?"

“I’m fucking fine,” Julian says, flipping up his hood. “Fucking peachy."

Josh blinks at him, then gathers the bag around his waist in horror. “Oh God, I didn't--did I do something? While I was--? Shit!"

“No, you didn’t," says Julian, hearing his own voice hollow. "It’s nothing. We’re not going to talk about this."

“I thought we do talk now,” Josh says, sliding out of the bag in hopes the cold will help settle what remains of his erection, which it does, but he immediately begins to shiver. “Or try to." He scoots closer to Julian, then hesitates. “Did--did this bring up some shit for you? The trauma stuff?” A glow sets in the middle of Josh’s chest as he warms himself, but the rest of his skin is notably dull, almost murky.

Julian tries to answer but finds his throat too tight, and anyway he has no idea what he was going to say. He tucks a loose lock of hair behind his ear, then stares out at the horizon, which is tingeing lighter blue.

“It's not what you think,” he mumbles finally, flipping down his hood. "You didn’t trigger me or anything.” At Josh’s look of confusion, he tries to rephrase. "There was no--the trauma didn't come up like--" He sighs in frustration. "Look, I just--"

Josh crawls over to sit beside Julian and puts his hand on his shoulder. Julian looks at him, and tries to find the words in the face of Josh's patience. “Do you want to fuck me?” he mumbles finally, not managing to make eye contact.

Josh blinks. “What?”

“Never mind. I’m just gonna tell you right now, if you do, that's not gonna work out for both of us.” Julian crosses his arms defensively.

“Oh. Meaning you don’t want to?” Josh hopes he’s not being too nosy, when in fact he’s lost entirely.

Julian considers this, frowning deeply and drumming his fingers on his biceps. “Meaning,” he finally grinds out, “you know what happened to me. And it pretty effectively put me off—whatever you’re probably thinking.”

Josh starts stroking Julian’s back. “There are a lot of things I might be thinking of,” he says gently. “A whole variety.” When Julian twists his face, he continues carefully, “But I’m okay with you ruling out stuff right now. Laying future ground rules. I mean, if you’re saying no entirely, that would be okay too, I guess. But it doesn’t really sound like it."

Julian looks back at Josh and uncurls himself a little. He scrubs his arm over his face. “Uhm. I might—really? Are we really going to just talk about this?”

Josh shrugs. “I’d rather talk first than do something without asking and upset you.”

“That’s gay,” Julian accuses softly.

“You’re the one discussing gay sex with your boyfriend who you’re dating homosexually."

“Yeah, well, rubber, glue.” Julian gives Josh a shove, then pulls him back telekinetically to bury his face in his shoulder. “I don’t know if I’d enjoy anything we tried,” he admits. “Since I’m—y’know. Cut down.”

“Oh. Shit, you really think you wouldn’t at all? Don’t you jerk off?” Julian glares up at him with a green glint in his eye that makes Josh momentarily fear for his life. “Shit, sorry! Stupid question. Sorry."

“I don’t want anything in me, either, so don’t even suggest that. Not gonna happen."

“Well, Christ, of course.” Elixir’s eyes soften. “That makes sense. Off the table. Got it.”

Julian peers up at him in some surprise. “Oh. Really? Okay.”


“Well, I just thought you would put up more of a fight.”

“Seriously?” Josh pulls away to raise his eyebrows in disbelief. “Christ, I wouldn’t—" He runs his hand through his hair. “Jesus, Julian, I’m not a total asshole. Shit, I’d rather cut my hand off than do something that brought your shit back up for you.”

Julian pauses as his brain recalibrates. “Really?”

“Yeah. Like—“ Josh grunts and shakes his head. “It just fucking kills me, what happened to you. If I could do anything to change it—well, I’d do anything.”

Hellion is already kissing him before he can think to say anything more. Josh pulls him slowly into his lap and they kiss in the blooming dawn.

"Maybe we should get back in the bag," Josh murmurs, grinning. "It seriously is way cold out here."

"Not with my space heater," Julian says, and the glow spreading across Josh's chest may not be purely to do with temperature control.