I'M HALF CRAZY
by Rex Luscus
It had been two hours. Two hours of more or less sitting in silence, both of them locked in their own little worlds, occasionally passing a silent plea to the other, unable to respond. They had gotten really good looks at their own knees--D propped up on the couch with his arms around his shins (he had to be in bad shape if he was allowing shoes on the upholstery), and Leon at the other end leaning forearms on thighs, his tongue thick in his throat. This was what happened when two guys tried to talk about something big.
For the hundredth time, Leon glanced over at D, who was still examining his knees. D looked miserable--a new look for him, which gave Leon an uncomfortable bubble in his chest and made him want to reach over there and--he didn't know what. He had no idea what to do, and that made him want to scream and bang his head against D's fine maple coffee table. Surely other people in the history of the world had been in similar positions--how the hell did they handle this?
He leaned back in the couch with a gusty sigh, hoping perhaps to get some kind of reaction out of D. Sure enough, he saw D look up in his peripheral vision, and mustered the nerve to turn his head and meet D's eyes. They were still miserable, but there was a shade of expection in them now. Leon had to be a man. He had to shoulder the burden for both of them. If chicks could do this, so could he.
Heart in his throat, he reached out and tentatively curled a hand around D's bare ankle.
D's eyes slipped shut and he let out a sigh so soft it could barely be heard. Leon ventured a light caress with his thumb. "Look--" He stopped and cleared his throat. Going so long without saying a word had rusted the pipes. "Look, I could sit here for ten more days like this, if that's what you want. Just--don't throw me out. I..." He paused; now that they'd started, the words didn't seem to want to stop. "I've been looking for you for five goddamn years, and I don't think I could take it if you threw me out."
"Why..." D murmured, turning back to his knees, "Why have you disturbed my peace?"
Leon stifled a nervous laugh. What was D, a fucking mummy? Then Leon wanted to laugh because he'd turned his life upside down and here D was, talking about peace like it was his goddamn right. "Because," he said after composing himself, "nobody gets peace. Sorry. Not till you're dead, anyway."
D's face took on a bit of its old haughty offense for a moment, like it used to do when Leon dared to insult him. Then it dissolved back into misery. And despite it all, Leon felt like something on the bottom of his shoe for putting that look on D's face.
"You may be used to this," D said softly, "but I am not."
Leon almost said something flippant, but caught himself in time. Instead, he squeezed D's silky ankle and kept his mouth shut.
"What should I do?" D asked. "You must teach me, Detective--in this, you have the greater experience."
This time, Leon really did laugh. D's head jerked up. Leon stifled it and his smile turned tender. "You think I know any better than you? Why do you think I've been sitting here like a goddamn wooden Indian for the last two hours? I'm a moron when it comes to--" He froze, choking on the word 'love' with a dizzy lurch. "...to this kind of thing."
D had noticed the save. He looked away. "You are as afraid as I am," he said, the disappointment in his voice chilling Leon's blood.
He drew a breath. Be a man, Leon. "Yeah," he said. "I am. But I'm here, aren't I?" The squeeze he gave D's ankle was a puncuation mark this time.
D didn't respond. He kept not responding. They were back to silence again.
Then D spoke again, startling Leon out of his funk. "I have seen these things end badly," he said. "So many times."
Leon thought about it. D had a point, actually; he was like those guys on the force who made their families live like fucking mob witnesses because they saw one horrible thing after another happen every day. D--although admittedly complicit in it--did nothing all day but watch people destroy themselves for love. No wonder he was so afraid of it.
"You only ever see the ones that end badly," he told D. "Doesn't always have to be like that. In fact..." he shrugged. "I'd say on average, it usually isn't."
D looked back at him. "And what do you think is the likelihood that we would be among the lucky?"
"I have no fucking idea." Leon shrugged again. "Nobody ever knows until they try."
D's hand twitched where it lay tangled with his other on his shin. Then it slowly unlaced itself and drifted hesitantly toward Leon's.
This is it, big man. Put your money where your mouth is. Leon reached out and grabbed it. Then, without really thinking, he was using it to pull himself down the couch, sliding under D's legs so that he was virtually in Leon's lap. D uncurled himself, and Leon pulled him into his arms.
Hugging had always seemed a little dorky to Leon. It was something you either did with your family, or did as part of the standard preliminaries with someone you wanted to bang. Except with his mom and his kid brother, it had never been an end in itself. And while he did have certain--ideas--about what he wanted to do with D eventually, this was enough for once. It was thrilling, even. D was like an antique or a sculpture in a museum that you could look at but never touch, and finally holding him felt like something huge opening up, something he'd only dreamed about. He'd never realized that there could be so much, so many amazing possibilities, all wrapped up in one little person. Because whatever D was--spirit, demon, god--he was also just a guy. One who could huddle up on a couch and look scared and lost, like humans had been doing since history began.
Leon held him like he was going to fall off the edge of the earth if he let go.
He wasn't sure when things changed. One moment, he was nervous because D seemed to be pulling away, then the next he was looking into D's face and it was full of things Leon had only ever imagined he'd see there someday, and when D's cool hand touched the back of his neck it was like a vast space had opened up in front of him and he was falling into it whether he was ready to or not.
D's mouth tasted like the sea. It tasted like lavender, and sweet cream, and the time his mother had taken him to Coney Island, and the one Christmas his dad had been around, and the first time he'd held Chris, and every other sweet, sad memory he only ever thought of when it was hidden cleverly behind something else and slipped out by accident.
Suddenly he understood exactly what D was afraid of.
D's thin chest was working hard, heaving against Leon's, and he broke off the kiss with a shaky breath. "Wait..." he murmured, eyes darting, fingers smoothing Leon's shirt restlessly as though he didn't know where to touch first. "So much all at once...it is making me--"
"Shhh," Leon whispered against his lips. "Slow. Go slow."
"Yes." D's body relaxed, and he sagged into the crook of Leon's arm, head falling to Leon's shoulder with an elated, overwhelmed sigh. Leon wanted to take that sigh and hide it away, so that one day when he was old and wondering whether he'd ever been happy, he could take it back out and remember.