This week’s challenge over at Terrible Minds was another fairly simple one: Knock, knock, who’s there?
And for me, this one came out different than usual. No science fiction, no danger or action. Instead, my muse grabbed hold of a character I write on an RPG site (set in the Mad Max universe of all places) and his lover. This is an AU of that relationship, set in the present day but it is, perhaps, a little bittersweet.
The First Goodbye
He was just putting the finishing touches on the sauce when the knock came on the door. He smiled, but ignored the knock for a moment as he added another pinch of salt to the pan, stirred, and tasted again, nodding to himself when the result was perfect. The knock came again, impatiently, but still he waited, making sure to put the spoon away in the sink before turning down the heat to leave the sauce simmering. Only then did he turn away from the little kitchenette and headed to the door, checking in the mirror as he passed to correct the tie and smooth back a stay dark hair.
Leaving the apron in place around his waist – it was all part of the show, after all – he went to open the door, greeting his guest with a wide smile. “Hello, sailor,” he said, closing the gap between them to wrap a hand around Nolan’s neck to pull him into a deep and long lasting kiss. Pulling back, he looked into those gorgeous blue eyes as moved his hand forward to caress the man’s cheekbone with a brush of his thumb. “I’m so glad you could make it.”
“Of course, sweetheart,” Nolan said with a smile, looking down at Hunter as the younger man pulled him inside, closing the door. He took a deep breath through his nose, closing his eyes for a moment at the scent that spread through the small flat. “Something smells good.” Looking over toward the kitchenette to see the pots and pans on the stove, a look of surprise crossed his face and he turned back to Hunter with a raised brow. “I didn’t know you cooked?”
“I don’t, not really,” Hunter admitted with an embarrassed smile, a touch of red rising in his cheeks. He’d thrown away the food containers, but didn’t want to spoil the mood by going so far as to confess to having gotten take-away, though Nolan was clever enough to figure that out on his own. “I wanted to make tonight special, though.” After all, it would be a long time before they saw each other again, and if the stories were right, the food on the carrier wasn’t the greatest.
Still smiling, Nolan stole another kiss from Hunter before he could return to the kitchen to finish the meal he so desperately wanted him to believe that he’d cooked himself. “It smells wonderful, sweetheart,” he said, reluctantly letting the younger man go, while he busied himself with taking off his coat after checking that he’d remembered to put the present in its pocket. “When’s dinner?”
“Ten minutes,” Hunter replied, stirring the sauce again to make sure it didn’t burn, at least. “Help me set the table, will you?” He nodded toward the small two-seater table by the window, looking out at a view of the brick wall of the building across the street. There was a white tablecloth on the table already along with a glass vase holding a few blue wildflowers that Hunter had picked from the yard of an abandoned house earlier in the day. Nolan did as he was asked, found the plates, the cutlery, and the glasses, all of them mismatched but somehow just right for the night and for the kind of person Hunter was. Disorganised, impulsive and artistic. Everything Nolan wasn’t, which was probably why he’d fallen so hard for him. Opposites attract and all that.
“You’ll remember to email, right?” Hunter asked again, after dinner when they had moved to the sofa, the younger man curled up in Nolan’s warm embrace. His worry and anxiety was getting worse as the time grew shorter. Just twelve hours now before his lover was leaving for the next six months. “And Skype at least once a week?”
Nolan’s free hand came up to run across Hunter’s cheek, sliding back into his hair to pull him in for a gentle kiss. “I promise,” he said quietly and severely, the tone of his voice putting an emphasis on the promise that the words themselves couldn’t. “And I’ll send you as many pictures as I can, too.”
Hunter laughed at that, his mood improving just slightly at the inside joke. Nolan was a notoriously bad photographer; cutting off heads, crooked horizons, not to mention the blurry and shaken pictures that seemed to be his speciality. The pictures were terrible, but Hunter still appreciated the intent behind them; to show him the kinds of adventures his sailor was having when he was deployed.
Falling quiet again, he let his fingers wander up Nolan’s torso to the top of his shirt, where he started to undo the top button, eager now to not waste any more of the last precious hours they had together. Just one more night and a morning. It wasn’t enough, it wasn’t nearly enough. But he’d known that when he’d gotten together with the man. He just hadn’t expected it to feel so… hopeless.
“Wait,” Nolan said, taking Hunter’s hand to stop him from opening any more buttons. “I have a present for you.” He smiled a reassuring smile as he shifted, leaning over to give the younger man a kiss before getting up from the sofa, motioning for Hunter to stay where he was. “Wait here.”
Hunter watched as Nolan went to the door where he got something out of the pocket of his coat, then came back to sit next to him, offering the small present, a simple unwrapped black box, reminiscent of a ring box. His breath caught in his throat as he looked up at Nolan, then opened the box and found a key there, knew what it meant and that it was worth so much more than any ring.
He smiled, the anxiety fading and he tossed the box on the coffee table, and got back to what he was doing. Nolan might have made him a promise with the key, but he still wasn’t going to waste the time they had left tonight.