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by beetle
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Gay/Lesbian · #1998876
Written for the prompt(s): Write about an “explosive” moment, time, or day.
Word count: 1,100
Notes/Warnings: None.

The final—absolute final—straw was when the soufflé exploded all over the inside of the microwave.

Devon McClay just nodded to himself, murmuring: “Okay . . . if that’s how it’s gonna be,” and sat down in the middle of the kitchen, on the floor, back against the center island.

And that’s exactly where Chris Janicke found him, still sitting—zazen, and chanting Om—forty-five minutes later.

“Uh . . . babe. . . ?” he began tentatively as he looked around the disaster area that used to be their newly-renovated kitchen. Then he turned his eyes to his suspiciously Zen boyfriend. “What happened in here?”

“I was cooking,” Devon interrupted his chanting to murmur quietly, rather tightly, then resumed his Om-ing having barely missed a beat. Soot-dark lashes fluttered against his tan cheek, as if he was fighting to not open his eyes. Chris sighed and stepped out of the doorway and into the kitchen proper.

“I, uh, figured you'd been cooking,” he said, putting his briefcase down on the center island and venturing: “How did it go?”

The chanting stopped, and for a few tense moments no sound took its place. Then: “About as well as can be expected, Christopher.”

“I see.” Chris took another look around the kitchen—at the crusted over pots and pans; the dirty, greasy stove; the begrimed microwave; and the flour seeming to coat every surface, including the floor, in a fine dust—and sighed again. He sat on the floor, in the flour, next to Devon, never minding his new suit. “And what spurred this attempt at domesticity?”

“Well. We can’t eat out for dinner every night, can we?” Devon took a slow, deep breath in and let it out just as slowly.

“We don’t eat out every night, Dev.”

“Yeah, we don’t. Some nights we order in.” Devon opened his eyes and turned to Chris, smiling wryly. “That’s hardly fair to you or your wallet.”

“In case you hadn’t noticed,” Chris started, taking Devon’s left hand in his right and squeezing it, before bringing it to his lips for a kiss. “I’m a stockbroker. Me and my wallet are fine. And we’ve been getting along just dandy as is with the way things are. You not being a domestic goddess isn’t a dealbreaker for us living together. So what really brought all this on, babe?”

Devon was the one to sigh, this time, then he looked down at their hands: his darker, hand and finer fingers laced together with Chris’ paler, thicker, hairier fingers. “I just . . . I don’t think I—I mean . . . do I contribute enough?”

Blinking in puzzlement, Chris asked: “To what?”

“To you! To us! To this!” Devon blurted out, waving a hand at both himself and Chris, then at the kitchen around them. “I mean, whether it’s financially, domestically—even emotionally—it feels like I don’t contribute enough to our relationship. Not nearly enough.”

That said, Devon was quick to look away, wiping impatiently at his dark, suddenly wet eyes. Brow furrowing, Chris turned Devon’s face back toward his own, leaning in to peck lips that tasted of flour, and a sweetness that was all Devon.

“Baby, you give me everything I need. You are everything I need,” Chris promised, and Devon laughed, watery and humorless.

“But I don’t earn enough, I can’t cook or even get the laundry right half the time—I don’t even tell you I love you as often as I should. I’m like a—a big leech, taking, taking, taking, and never giving anything back,” he whispers, sniffling when the backs of Chris’ fingers brush his cheek.

“You give me all the love and affection I could ever want. And as to our finances . . . my money is your money. It’s as simple as that.” Chris slipped an arm around Devon and pulled him close. “I earn money not for me, but for us. And if I wanted someone who could handle the domestic stuff perfectly, all the time, I’d have shacked up with a maid.”

Devon rolled his eyes, but his lips twitched like he wanted to smile. “You could do a hell of a lot worse than a maid. Like, say, an out-of-work actor who can’t even wait tables. Or do laundry right.”

Chris’ grin was slow and smug. “What can I say? I like ‘em artsy, pretty, and lacking in basic laundry skills. You’re, like, the jackpot for all three.”

“Keep up that sweet-talk and you’ll turn my head completely, flatterer.” Devon rolled his eyes again, but didn’t object when Chris hugged him closer. In fact, he tucked his head under Chris’ chin and this time, his sigh was a bit less discontented. “And you’re sure you don’t want me to do more—contribute more—to us?”

“Like I said, you give me everything I need, babe. The rest I can get from Mr. Chow’s Flaming Wok or Friendly’s Dry Cleaners.

“I still feel as if you shouldn’t have to. . . .”

“And you’re not my maid or my cook, to have to prepare my meals or clean my clothes. You’re the love of my life. The person who comforts me when I'm upset and puts up with me when I'm an asshole. You're the person I look forward to waking up next to every day, the person I want to share all my triumphs with, and the person I come to to lick my wounds when I've failed. You mean more to me than anyone in the world and you're the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.” At this, Devon froze in Chris’ arms and Chris took a deep breath, himself, and forged bravely ahead. “There are no qualifiers to those statements. It’s just the way it is. I love you more than life itself and I’d like to marry you, if you’ll have me.”

Devon sat up and looked at Chris with wide, startled eyes. There was a smudge of flour across his left cheek and Chris' heart sighed.

“You’re kidding,” Devon breathed, and Chris swallowed and shook his head.

“Nope. I want to marry you. Will you marry me, Devon McClay?”

Devon frowned, appearing to give the question serious thought, his eyes drifting to the space beyond Chris’ right shoulder before coming back to focus on Chris’ eyes again. His wry mood had turned grave and solemn, and Chris swallowed nervously once more; his entire world hinged, trembling nervously, on the next words out of Devon’s mouth.

With the same gravity and solemnity, Devon opened his mouth to give his answer, and Chris’ world trembled once more in anticipation.

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