He was alone.
It was a beautiful place, really. The ground he kneeled on felt like cotton and silk, a gentle breeze blowing, the smell of honeysuckle and roses in the air. The sky above him danced with lights, shades of purple and green swirling.
But that didn't matter. None of it did.
It was so empty, and he was so alone.
Trapped, with nothing but his own thoughts, his own memories. He felt aimless, meaningless, hopeless.
He lay down, staring up at the sky, sure it was all an illusion, his breath hitching as it all came flooding back to him. The pain, the sorrow, the grief.
Why did he have to be here? He didn't want to be anywhere. He wanted it all to end.
He lay, hands tight by his sides, listening to nothing but the thump-thump of his own heartbeat, a heartbeat that shouldn't be there, when suddenly, he sensed a presence.
It was like nothing he'd ever felt before. A flame, burning within him, surrounding him. As though someone's very soul had joined with his own.
He slowly stood up with shaking legs, the intense flame, flickering, dancing within him, turning around to try and see what it was that was making him feel like this.
A figure. In the distance. Like a mirage, blurry with light. He was unable to make out who it was, so he just stood there, waiting.
The figure walked slowly towards him, until finally, they got close enough that he was able to make out who this flame, this spirit, was.
He froze at the all-too-familiar features.
No. His mind repeated like a chant. NoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo.
Hadn't he already been through enough?
Hadn't he already suffered enough?
Did his own mind have to torment him with this?
He knew it was just an illusion. It always was. Always had been. Ever since that fateful day the presence had haunted him, like a spectre. At the corner of his eye, but never really there. Haunting his dreams, his nightmares.
Just the mere thought of it all made him feel like he was drowning, unable to breath, unable to stop.
He fell to his knees, breathes turning to sobs, tears flowing freely down his face. "Go away!" He screamed, shutting his eyes so tightly that he could see stars in the blackness. "Stop! Don't torment me like this! I know he isn't here! Please don't make me think about him! I can't do this anymore! Please!"
He placed his head in his hands, weeping, when suddenly he felt strong arms wrapping around his body.
The fire burnt brightly now. Waves of feelings rushed through his very being, his very soul. He had never felt anything like this before. It was as though two had became one. A bond, a love, wrapped around him, comforting him, understanding him.
It felt wonderful.
He felt whole.
Slowly, he opened his watery eyes, feeling the warm breath against his neck, a head nuzzling into him. His whole body shook from the touch and the emotion.
Finally, the figure spoke.
The voice sounded so confident, so sure.
The very voice that had tormented his mind for the better part of two years. Haunting him, crippling him.
He shivered, lost in thought, before finally speaking, one single, solitary word, that used to come to him as naturally as breathing, but now physically hurt to say.
Fingers laced his own in response.
He felt the tears returning, running down his cheeks.
"Is... is it really you?" It was all he could think to say.
The figure whispered softly in his ear, "Of course. I would never leave you."
That was a lie. He had left him. Not by his own choice, of course, but he had. And it hurt. It hurt so damn much. Everyday he'd wake up with a tear-stained pillow, feeling so empty inside. Life had no meaning without him. He'd felt broken without him. Everything hurt and it never stopped.
Everyone said they could understand, but they couldn't. No matter how much they cared, they could never understand. They didn't have what they had. They didn't love him like he did. They didn't know what it was like to devote all of your love, to devote your very being, your very soul, to one person, so fully. What it was like to live for someone. And how, without them, you couldn't go on.
Sometimes he'd close his eyes and remember the good times, how things used to be. The two of them, together, on the most backwater of roads or on top of the world, always there for each other, always something deeper than friends. Then he'd open his eyes and realise that it was all gone, crushed by cruel fate, leaving him without his better half, and break down.
He'd felt like he was free-falling since that cold day in November, unable to stop, nothing but sorrow and regret following him.
And finally he'd crashed.
Without him, he'd been nothing.
He didn't want to believe it. He knew how easily one could be tricked by their own emotions.
But his touch... his love. It all felt so real. He could feel it within him, surrounding him, consuming him. He realised how much he ached without it, how utterly obsessed with it he was. It was his everything.
Finally, still shaking, he turned around, steel-blue meeting warm brown. Those eyes, the eyes he had seen a thousand times, filled with the same warmth and affection as always, were looking at him, beaming, for the first time, since...
...Since he'd lost him.
He froze, lost in them, until finally he broke down, whaling.
"E-Eddie!" he cried, "Oh G-God... it really is you..." He buried his head in the smaller man's shoulder.
The other man rubbed soothing circles into his back, speaking gently. "It's okay. It's okay. I'm here. I'm here."
The two sat like that for an age, time not seeming to pass in the strange place, until finally, he asked, voice low, "...How?"
His dearest friend replied, "That doesn't matter right now. This-" he squeezed their joined hands, "-Is all that matters."
He spoke again, voice shaky, "It really is you... I know it is.... but why are you here... with me? All I wanted was to be with you again... but I know after all you've been through... you deserve so much more... I'm-"
Fingers covered his lips, the other man grinning. "Don't. Say. Anything. Everything I ever did, Chris... it was all for you. That'll never change."
He froze, looking into the warm eyes, sensing the honesty within them, and more importantly, the unconditional, unbridled love. He sat, silent, stunned, before his sobs turned to tears of joy. "...You really.... you really...." He couldn't get the words out, instead settling for resting his head in his dearest friend's chest.
Suddenly, fingers cupped his chin, turning his head towards him. By now, the flame burning within him was an all-consuming fire, trapping their very souls together, one being, feeling each other's pain, each other's love, the most natural thing in the world, as though it had always been this way.
He didn't mind though, being trapped. He loved it. It was intoxicating. The others man's love filled him with happiness he hadn't felt in such a long time. It burnt, but it felt right.
Which was why the others man's kiss felt so right. He didn't even feel shocked. He just melted into it, wrapping his arms around the other man's waist, letting out a low moan. It felt perfect. He could stay like this forever.
Eventually, the two rolled onto the golden grass and the plum flowers, pulling away slowly, laying, tangled in each other as though they were one and the same, staring up at the dancing stars, listening to the rhythmic beating of each other's hearts.
The shaking had finally stopped, and he felt calm. It was only then that he noticed how the other man looked so young, hair long and dark, cascading down his face. He looked so beautiful like that. Absolutely beautiful. He wondered if he looked the same.
"Eddie..." he smiled, trying to get the words out. Why was this so hard, when they both knew the truth. "...I love you."
"I love you too," was the only response he got. It was the only response he needed.
"Please don't leave me?" He wrapped his arms around the other mans waist, savouring the touch. After so many miserable months without him, he was never going to let go.
"Did you miss me?"
"Everyday." The other man's voice cracked slightly.
"I missed you so much..." his voice shook once more, "Too much."
He felt the sorrow returning, but with a gentle kiss, it was gone again.
The pain was still there of course, numbing him deep inside. He knew it would never go away, and he knew they'd have to talk about it eventually, deal with it.
But right now, as the scent of honeysuckle in the air grew stronger, as the glowing purple and the soothing green in the sky danced a tango, and as the flames within them burned with warm passion, joining them together, it didn't matter.
"You're here..." He whispered, before kissing the younger man's cheek. "...I'm here."
They had each other, and that was enough.
"...I'm here." He repeated, and their fingers laced once more, two bodies and two souls intertwined in each other's love, together, here, for evermore.
Finally, he drifted off, letting the fire consume him once and for all.
* The End *