A night in leads to a confesson Luka can't handle.
|Summary: Written for the prompt: Write from the point of view of character “B”. It doesn’t matter which character is the first one to say “I LOVE YOU”. For this assignment focus on the emotions, the reaction of the person who heard the words. This is another one of those milestones that is important in any relationship.
“You’re falling asleep.”
“Am not. . . .”
Luka chuckled fondly, holding Jaime closer and kissing the top of Jaime’s head, snorting a little as one intrepid lock of hair tried to insinuate itself up his nose. “Are, too, Jay. And you’re missing the movie.”
“Nah,” Jaime yawned, shifting a little in Luka’s arms. “I believe the last thing said was: If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.”
Laughing, now, Luka reached for the remote and paused the movie. “That was the last thing said, like, fifteen minutes ago. Average Joe’s is already at the Nationals.”
“Really? Oh, damn. I’m sorry,” Jaime said on the back of another yawn. Luka rewound the DVD, still smiling.
“Nothing to be sorry about. You’ve had a long day.”
“Not so long.”
“Long enough. In fact—” Luka paused Dodge Ball again and started to sit up carefully. Jaime, taking the hint, sat up, too, with a third yawn, blinking his dark eyes at Luka questioningly. Luka’s smile turned apologetic. “In fact, it may be time for us both to call it a night.”
“No—it’s only . . . whoa, quarter to midnight.” Jaime’s eyes ticked from his clock back to Luka, sheepish and chagrined. “I’m sorry, Luka. I lost track of time. I know you have a drive ahead of you, so if you want to go—”
“Want to go? Never,” Luka promised, bussing Jaime’s lips. He tasted like spearmint and sleep. “I always wanna be where you are.”
“Sweet-talker,” Jaime accused, but he was smiling, too. “But that doesn’t cover up the fact that I keep you here late more nights than not, watching movies and talking, when you should be getting sleep.”
Chuckling again, Luka pulled Jaime into his arms and hugged him tight. Jaime returned the embrace with fervor, nuzzling Luka’s neck with a soft, happy sigh.
For his part, Luka could only marvel, as usual, at how well Jaime fit in his arms. How small and perfect he felt there, and how right.
In the weeks since their first kiss—and Jaime’s First Kiss, he’d admitted to Luka tentatively, some days later—Luka had been spending most of his free time at Jaime’s Spartan, fanatically neat and tidy apartment in Hurley. Which was a bit of a drive from Woodstock, but so worth it. Even if all they did was talk, neck, and watch silly movies.
The fact was, Luka had never been as comfortable with any guy as he was with Jaime. Had never been . . . easy with anyone, like he was with Jaime. All of Luka’s previous relationships had been—aside from massively flawed and staggeringly dysfunctional—fraught with some kind of angst and rife with the baggage of prior relationships.
Of course, it probably hadn’t helped that during most of his relationships, Luka had been a boozing cokehead, who’d sought out similar or codependent traits in his partners.
Then Luka had gotten clean, and . . . there hadn’t been many relationships of note in the four years since. There’d been a few dates, some that’d even turned into flings, but nothing serious. Nothing . . . like this . . . like the guy nestled so trustingly in his arms, half-falling asleep in them because he trusted Luka.
And Luka, he of the addictive personality, found himself growing addicted to the feelings Jaime inspired in him. Feelings of warmth and protectiveness. Of sweetly fierce and wistfully frustrated desire. Of a yearning greater than any he’d ever felt for anything that wasn’t a drug.
And so, the words he never said anymore to anyone who wasn’t his mother, came burbling up from out of him almost like a belch: it couldn’t be stopped or held in. (Not that Luka would have . . . but later he’d think that, in retrospect, a nice dinner might have been a better precursor than Dodge Ball: A True Underdog Story and the hours of lazy making out that had come before.)
“I love you, Jay,” he whispered into Jaime’s herbal/mint-smelling hair, then waited anxiously for a reaction and response.
But Jaime didn’t so much as tense up in his arms, nor did his slow, somewhat deep breathing change. Luka swallowed and let out his held breath, squeezing Jaime a little tighter and closing his eyes tight on wetness that threatened to spill over.
“I couldn’t pinpoint when it happened even if there was a gun to my head, but I love you. I half-think I have since we met, despite everything else that happened that night. And I know it’s only been a few weeks, but . . . I’ve never felt this way for anyone in my life. Never . . . loved anyone the way I love you. I don’t expect you to say it back yet, or even feel it back, yet. I just . . . needed to say it aloud. To say it to you, even though you’re asleep. And maybe that makes me a coward . . . saying it now, instead of when you’re awake, but it had to be said. And I have no doubt it’ll slip out again in some idle moment, when we’re both awake and neither of us expects it.
“I love you, Jaime Soto. And I never want to let you go.”
Luka fell silent, then, continuing to hold Jaime protectively and possessively. After nearly a minute, Jaime sighed again, leaning up to nuzzle Luka’s neck once more.
“Then don’t,” he murmured sleepily, and Luka froze, his eyes opening as the bottom dropped out of his stomach. But before he could do or say anything, Jaime was murmuring again. “Stay with me, tonight?”
“I—I . . . yes,” Luka stammered, then cleared his throat, forcing himself to relax. To not read any more into this than he’s been doing. Jaime was mostly asleep, after all. And anyway, he obviously didn’t mean stay in the you-can-do-it-put-your-back-into-it kind of way. “I mean, of course, ljubav.”
That, too, simply slipped out, along with a whole early childhood’s worth of memories of his parents sharing that endearment back and forth between each other and among their children like a particularly good meal.
He remembers the look his mother would get in her solemn dark eyes whenever his father called her moja ljubav, moj život, moja voljena, at once trembling and fierce, as if no one had ever loved her like Dimitrije Petrovic loved her. . . .
Luka supposed no one ever had, for when he’d died, he’d taken her with him, heart and soul, if not body.
Having never expected to find a love that would come even close to defining him so deeply—nor, when it came down to it, wanting to find such a love . . . for what would he do once it was taken from him?—to hear one of his father’s old endearments for his mother come tripping off his tongue was . . . disconcerting.
He needed to regroup. To retreat. To re- . . . something.
“Maybe, uh . . . maybe I should go,” he said quietly, disengaging from Jaime’s arms and standing up with a grunt. He could feel Jaime’s surprised, dark gaze on him, but dared not meet it. Instead, he patted himself down for the usual suspects: wallet, keys, cellphone, cigarettes, and lighter.
“But you said—” Jaime started, then fell silent for a few moments. “Of course. If you need to go, I won’t keep you.”
Something in Jaime’s tone made Luka want to look at him and see what was going on, on that lovely face. But again, he didn’t dare. He turned his gaze to his jacket, where it hung on the back of the front door. “Yeah, I’ve got a . . . thing, in the morning. In Woodstock. It’d be better if I went home.”
“Okay?” Jaime said softly, almost questioningly. “Have a good night, I guess?”
“I will. You, too,” Luka grabbed his jacket and opened the door, stepping into the hallway, still without having looked at his—his—
Whatever Jaime was to him.
But then he heard the gentle barely-there pad of Jaime’s are feet across the living room floor, stopping when Jaime was directly behind him. Wiry-strong arms wrapped hesitantly around Luka’s waist and a lithe body pressed itself against his back . . . a warm face between his shoulder blades.
As he leaned back into the embrace briefly, savoring the sweetness of it, Jaime spoke: “I love you, too, Luka. I’m not just saying it back because you said it, or saying it to keep you here, I just . . . wanted you to know. Even though I’m scared, I’m kind of excited, too. Because I’ve never been this happy in my life. Never. You make me happy, and . . . well, that’s it. Good night.”
And with that, Jaime was letting go. By the time Luka’s shock allowed him to move, to turn around and ask—he didn’t know what—Jaime had already shut his front door with a near-silent click.
After raising his hand to knock twelve different times, Luka finally turned away from the door and slunk off down the hallway, to the stairs and the exit.
After all, he had that thing in the morning. And it wouldn’t do to miss that.