There was nothing all around but sea water, and sea water, and more sea water. The ebb and flow of the smooth tide brushed up against the bottom of the boat, nudging the little skiff painfully slowly towards --

Well, towards nothing.

There was only the endless green-blue of the sea, and the endless bright blue of the sky, stretching off far into the distance. All food had run out -- was it a day ago? two days? -- and the sun was getting hotter, the situation completely helpless. If there were only land, an island, a place to touch solid ground again... But there was water, just water, going on into infinity. The line of the horizon was merely where blue met more blue. One solid color, impossible to escape from.

Miguel flopped his head listlessly against Tulio's shoulder. Pursed up his lips and let out a long, weary sigh.

"It's useless." He could feel Tulio shift a little. Now, all he had to wait for was his companion to reassure him about how he still had a plan, and how all they needed was an apple core and a horse hair. Something like that. Tulio always had a plan, was one of those people who could get you out of anything after a little scheming, so long as he had something to work with.

"... It's useless," Tulio groaned in response.

"What do you mean, it's useless?!"

"I mean, it's useless. You just said so yourself, it's useless!"

"Well, there has to be something--"

"It's useless, Miguel. Useless."

There was silence between them. Miguel picked at a lock of his hair, pouting a little.

"Well. Fine."

"Stop pouting."

"I'm not pouting!"

"I can feel you, you're pouting."

"So what if I am?" Not only was Miguel pouting, but he was sulking, now, too, huffy and indignant. Great. Just great.

"I hate it when you pout." Miguel said nothing in return, just folded his arms over his chest and brought his knees up a little. "Look," Tulio murmured after a moment, "I didn't mean that. Really. I just--"

"All right. I know. It doesn't matter."


"Fine." Tulio picked at a splinter of wood from the edge of the boat as Miguel sunk lower against his back. It was a familiar weight, the feel of his best friend and sometimes-more-than-that against him. Despite the sea water, despite all the salty, rotting sea-smells, he could still smell Miguel all around him, familiar and comforting. It was keeping him sane and driving him nuts, all at the same time. Naturally, he was the one who always thought of the Plan. They'd get into scrapes, and Tulio would think something up to get them out. It was his job, almost, his duty. And now?

Now, he had failed. Not only himself, but Miguel, as well.

He wanted to apologize, but he didn't really do apologies too well. Managed to screw them up every time, no matter what. That thought only made him scowl and tense up a little, half stabbing his finger with that splinter.


"What's the matter?"

"Nothing, nothing...I'm all right."

"'re sure?"

"Yes, yes, I'm sure!"

"Fine, then! Fine."

Again, silence fell, stretched taught and painful between them. This wasn't good. Tulio could feel his stomach rumble, could hear the answering grumble from Miguel's, and he wilted, positively drooping back against his friend.

"We may never get out of this, you know."

"I know. ... I was the one who said it was useless, after all."

"Right. Forgot about that..." Tulio wilted a bit. Couldn't find the courage to go on and just shut his mouth, just shut up, allowing himself, for a mere, terrible moment in time, to pout.


"...Miguel?" Tulio tilted his face back a little over his shoulder, eyes catching his companion's own emerald ones. He really did like Miguel's eyes. They were soft and sweet, a veritable mirror into the blonde man's impossibly kind soul. Miguel lifted a finger, rubbing absently at the stubble on Tulio's cheek.

"You need a shave."

"Yes. Yes, I happen to know this. I don't happen to have a razor on me--but- just-- hold on for a moment, all right? I'm...trying to be serious."



"All right, all right, I'm serious now. Go ahead. Spill it, is." Tulio swallowed. It was exceedingly hard to concentrate with Miguel's face so close to his, with Miguel's finger scritching at his cheek. At the same time, he wasn't about to brush it off, wasn't about to push his friend away, because he happened to like it when Miguel touched him. Miguel's eyes were, as always, bright and open and honest. It was hard to concentrate when you were looking at them, too... Nonono! All right. He had to think. Had to keep to the Plan of the moment, which was -- well, Not To Get Distracted By All The Things Miguel Did (And Was). It was at least a plan he could hope to stick to. It was at least a plan that would give him a purpose.

"As I was saying -- we may never get out of this. Certainly isn't a wonderful way to die--"

"What way is?"

"--and it's a way I never saw us going, but..." Silence. Gulp. Plow on. "Just -- before we go, I thought...maybe..." Tulio licked his lips. Shifted a little bit, unconsciously into the finger on his cheek. Miguel tilted his head to the side, brow furrowing a little; a sudden glint lit up in his eyes, flickering amusedly. Almost as if he were saying, 'I know something you don't know...' It ticked Tulio off. He frowned, half heartedly, and then just gave up when Miguel next spoke.

"...are you trying to get up the courage to kiss me, Tulio?"

"What?" The blonde grinned a bit as his friend nearly jumped a foot in the air. Really. Tulio could be so bloody clueless, sometimes.

"It's the horse that's making you nervous, isn't it. Don't worry, Altivo won't look. Will you, Altivo?"

Altivo snorted.

"I don't believe that's what I was--"

"Oh, do shut up, will you?"

They kissed.

It was a nice kiss. They had kissed before, numerous times, but this was an especially nice one, Tulio decided. It had been a long time since their last kiss. He'd missed kissing Miguel. If he had had need for a Plan for the future, it would be To Kiss Miguel A Lot More Often. He drew his lips thoughtfully over Miguel's, stifling a smile as the other man wrinkled his nose at the feel of stubble against his cheek.

"Sorry," he murmured against Miguel's lips.

"Don't worry about it," Miguel returned.

They kissed again.

And then they kissed some more, and then they started touching, and it was a little awkward, because the boat was rather small and rather cramped and rather splinter-y. But it had been a long time since they'd last touched each other all over, like they were suddenly and shamelessly doing, and as Tulio ran his hands up underneath Miguel's shirt and over his chest he thought to himself what a pity it was he couldn't have another plan for when they got out of this mess, which was To Touch Miguel A Lot More Often, Too.

Somehow they got their pants off, not bothering with shirts, because they were in a bit of a rush to get to each other, and it didn't really matter at all that their shirts were still on, did it? Miguel nuzzled against Tulio's cheek, not minding the stubble one bit, and Tulio pulled Miguel up into his lap, finding this all very nice, and a lot more effective than just babbling out what it was he wanted to say. It amounted to much the same thing as this, after all.

The boat rocked a little, unstably, to their movements, and then a little faster, as their movements went a little faster. Neither Miguel nor Tulio seemed to notice this, however, and really, who cared, anyway? So they got a little sloshed with sea water, so they got a little sticky. They could just wash it all of, later. Wasn't like they were in need of any water, as it was.

And oh, it was very much worth it.

Altivo ruffled out a deep sigh -- was now really a good time for this sort of thing? -- and covered his eyes with his hooves. Really, people -- especially men -- were so very silly sometimes.

"Ah," Tulio murmured.

"Ooh," Miguel returned.

"Yes," Tulio agreed.

"Yes," Miguel echoed.

They fell silent for a while, nestled up against each other. One of Tulio's arms was thrown around Miguel's waist; the shorter blonde man was curled up against Tulio's chest. It was certainly very comfortable, to laze about that way. Not that they were lazing, because there was nothing else to do, but that wasn't the point. Tulio found that it seemed right, to be sprawled out like that. Right and above all just comfortable. As if they were made to lie that way.

"Well," Tulio murmured, feeling lazy and satisfied, and a little bit lost. "That seemed to say it all."

"Mrm," Miguel purred, butting up underneath his chin, golden hairs tickling his friend-turned-lover's neck. "Say it again?"

"Well, I don't know if I can get the wording quite right..."

"Bloody hell to the wording, you twit."

"...Ah. Yes. Right. Well. Let's see, I think it went a little bit like this..."

It didn't take very long before the boat began to rock again. Altivo sunk down inside it, shaking his mane a bit and rolling his eyes.

It was going to be a long day.