Miguel peered out from the threshold of his door at the soaked, dark-haired male standing outside. He was slumped against a post supporting the porch, one hand on his hip while the other rested on his head. "Hola, amigo," the man softly, beaten, blue eyes slowly beginning to fall to the ground between them.
"What are you doing out here?" Miguel was surprised he could manage speech. When was the last time he had seen his friend? Five years? Six? The blonde finally pulled his door open and waved one arm out, the other reaching for his lost friend. He wrapped it around the cold, shivering man's shoulders and urged the man inside. "It's raining, you're soaked, for Christ's sake Tulio, sit." Miguel pushed the man toward a chair before turning in search of dry clothes.
"Since when did you become so motherly?" Tulio sank into the chair with the same dark, lost expression, but at least there was a hint of humor in his voice. Miguel glanced back, shuffling through one of his drawers.
Miguel doesn't say anything, simply frowns as he turns back toward the other man with a pair of pants and a shirt. His mind was a positive whirlwind at the moment. Why would Tulio choose to visit now, in the middle of the night? In the middle of a storm, for that matter? Where was Chel? He strolls toward his friend, perching on a chair beside Tulio. The tiny cabin Miguel called home was but a single room with a flickering, warm fireplace, a few scattered chairs, and a single bed.
"Here," Miguel whispers, handing the bundle of clothes to the still dripping man beside him. Tulio takes them slowly, running his thumbs over the creases in the fabric. He makes no move to undress as much as Miguel wants him too, his green eyes focused intently on his former ... still? best friend. "Tulio," Miguel tries again, turning so he is facing the man. "What are you doing? Where's Chel?"
The short utterance of her name makes Tulio jerk so badly he nearly falls out of the chair. His fingers dig into the bundle of clothes and clutch them to his chest. At first, Miguel thinks it is out of sadness - had something happened to Chel? Miguel remembered, just before they had parted ways in Spain, Chel had been sick. Her immune system wasn't prepared for the many illnesses that resided in Europe. That was when the three of them had begun to lose contact. Miguel had never know the outcome.
But as Miguel continued to watch his friend, shifting his eyes to Tulio's face, he didn't see sadness or remorse - he saw anger. Miguel instinctively reaches out, placing a hand on the other man's back as he withered before him.
"That - that harlot," Tulio growled, abruptly standing and throwing the dry clothes on the floor. He stalked the short length of the room to stand in front of the fire place, hands curled into fists at his sides. Miguel was more surprised by this then Tulio showing up - Tulio wasn't typically angry. And even when he was, he almost never attacked someone he loved. He still did love Chel, didn't he?
"Did she ... what ... what happened?"
"She cheated. She cheated, and she left me, Miguel." Tulio set his jaw with an audible click before whirling around toward his former partner, blue eyes uncharacteristically angry. Miguel watched in a mixture of fear and awe. "And that's not even what I'm so mad about, really. I don't care. I haven't cared about her in so long. It's that she convinced me that I didn't - that I had to stay away from you. My best friend." Tulio looked away, eyes shadowed in shame. "I thought she was all for the adventure, you know? And she was, for a little bit. And then she wanted to be a 'convential Spanish wife' and she wanted me to get a job and, and, she always said what a terrible friend you were and that you were going nowhere and, oh, Jesus." Tulio rubbed his forehead and closed his eyes. Miguel dropped his jaw before standing, watching as Tulio's shoulders began to tremble and shake.
"Tulio, don't cry." If Tulio cried, so would Miguel. The blonde stepped forward and wrapped his arms around his former partner. Tulio was wet and cold but Miguel didn't care, he simply tugged him to his chest and gasped as Tulio buried his face in the other man's neck.
"I'm so sorry, Miguel. I shouldn't, all this time has gone by and not a word and I let her think that you were bad for me. She's wrong. She's so wrong. She was the bad, she was the one ..." Tulio was crying now, sobbing, and Miguel didn't know what to do but close his eyes and stroke the black hair of his partner and whisper reassurances in his ear.
"Tulio, please." Miguel was trying to stifle the feelings bubbling in his stomach - finally, finally Tulio was recognizing him as something more than what they had always been. Best friends. Acquaintances. Maybe now ... maybe they could finally be ...
Miguel froze. No, it would never happen. Tulio would never look at him that way. It was obvious - it was proven that Tulio loved women. Look at Chel. She was a gorgeous woman, beautiful, and Tulio had more than once shared his many experiences with her. Miguel tightened his grip on the still sobbing Tulio. Miguel would never have what he wanted with Tulio. It wasn't going to happen.
Miguel shook his head and pulled away from Tulio, trying to find the sobbing man's eyes. "Look at me, Tulio. You can stay here, okay? For as long as you want. We could be partner's again, eh?" Miguel tried to smile, and even though it was a poor attempt, Tulio almost returned the gesture. Miguel squeezed his shoulders before releasing him, bending over to pick up the previously discarded clothing. "Put these on. Sit by the fire. I'll make you something to eat, okay?"
Miguel moved away to rummage through the cupboards of food. Miguel caught and killed almost all of his own food nowadays, something he had picked up from the people of El Dorado. He had learned lessons there he would never forget and had vowed that after leaving, he wouldn't stop learning. That he wouldn't stop going on adventures. Miguel only lived in the cabin a few months out of the year. Most of his time was spent stowing away on ships to see new places.
When he turned around to look back at Tulio, a slab of bread and cheese in one hand and a cup of rum in the other, Tulio was just pulling up his trousers. Miguel blushed madly. He had seen Tulio completely naked a dozen times before, and still, Miguel couldn't help but stare. Tulio was truly sculptured like a god, no pun intended. Even after five or six years a part, he still looked almost exactly the same. He still adorned the same muscles and lean physique and black hair that was pulled from his face in a ponytail. At least Chel had not forced him to get rid of that. Miguel thought it was adorable.
He quickly tore his eyes away and cleared his throat as if that would rid himself of the terribly embarrassing thoughts, crossing the room with his head pointedly ducked. He perched on the bed, the closest furniture to the fire and kept his eyes diverted as Tulio yanked a shirt over his head, falling into the bed beside him. He took the offered food with a smile, sniffing as an elbow arched up to wipe under his nose.
"That was embarrassing," Tulio mumbled as he took a bite of the bread. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be. It's good to see you again, Tulio." Miguel smiled and it was sincere this time. It was real. "Really. I'm glad you're here."
"I hope I'm not bothering you."
"You're not, I promise. I've missed you more than I'd care to admit." He blushed again, looking away. He jumped when a hand curled over his knee, nearly spilling the rum he still had clasped in his hands.
"Me too, amigo." Tulio caught Miguel's eyes and smiled, and even though his eyes were still dark and heavy and sad, Miguel could see a spark of hope in them. Tulio wasn't giving up. He was moving on.
Miguel touched Tulio's hand and they both looked down at the contact between them. Miguel swallowed hard, turning to set the cup of rum on the table beside the bed. When he turned back, Tulio was about to pull his hand away, cheeks flushed a bright pink. Miguel snatched the hand before it could move very far, tugging it back.
"Never leave me again," Miguel whispered so softly it was barely audible and when the silence stretched he thought he had made it too personal, too romantic, and he was mentally cursing himself until Tulio curled his fingers tightly around the blonde male's. Miguel glanced up to see a look in Tulio's eyes he had never seen before - as if he had just realized something he should have known for a long time.
Miguel's heart fluttered. This was what poetry was about.
"I won't," Tulio promised, lips curling upwards into the smile Miguel had fallen in love with years ago.
I do not own The Road To El Dorado.
Should I make this a multi-chaptered fic? I can't decide.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it. Please leave reviews!