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Ice-filled memories caused a chill to pass over Leo. With a sigh, he curled his fingers around the bed sheet and pulled it more tightly under his chin.
That’s not right.
Leo opened his eyes as he realized it wasn’t just his dream that had left him cold.
The lightweight drapes billowed as a cool breeze swept into the room.
“Jack.” Leo rolled over, and as expected, he found himself alone.
Where are you?
He eased himself across the bed and settled on Jack’s pillow.
Leo closed his eyes and pressed his face into the pillow, taking a deep breath. The sweet smell of Jack’s cologne brought a sense of peace and comfort, but wasn’t quite enough to replace Jack’s warmth. After rolling back to his side of the bed, Leo pushed himself to sit up. He held the sheet across his shoulder as he leaned over to press his phone.
“Too early, Jack.” Leo yawned and rubbed at his face. He gave a low groan and leaned over the side of the bed to scoop up his underwear and T-shirt. He dressed, then sat on the edge of the bed to pull on his sneakers. With another yawn, he got to his feet. He dragged the bed sheet with him and wrapped it around himself as a further layer. He raised his shoulders, hugging the cotton sheet close as he made his way to the swaying curtain. Pulling back the sheer material, he eyed the gap in the sliding doors. He shuddered as cold air chilled his out-reached hand. After bracing himself for the early morning air, he slid open the balcony door.
“Morning,” Jack said as Leo stepped outside. Jack was wearing jeans and a thick coat. “Did I wake
you?” He pushed back his fur-lined hood. His dark hair was shaggy and the lengths of his bangs were sticking up in various directions.
Leo shook his head as he closed the sliding door. “Have you been up long?” He came to stand next to Jack, appreciating how Jack was quick to wrap him in a hug.
“Merry Christmas,” Jack said in a low voice, pushing his face into the crook of Leo’s neck.
Jack’s embrace comforted him. “Merry Christmas,” Leo said and rested his head against Jack’s. He looked out across the city and smiled. The manmade lights, which illuminated the buildings, shone brightly in a variety of colors, and despite the coolness of the early morning, warmth spread through Leo. “Are you okay?”
Jack pressed a kiss to Leo’s cheek. “I’m fine. I was just thinking.”
“About what?” Leo turned slightly so he could see Jack’s face. Was something troubling him? He gently reached up to touch Jack’s face, stroking his jaw. “Tell me.”
Emotions and his feelings were still something Jack was getting used to. He didn’t always find it easy to express himself or intuitively know how Leo felt. It was getting easier, but for the two of them it had become a habit to talk about what was going on in their heads. That way they could figure things out together.
“Nothing bad. I promise. Just…” Jack raised his hand. Slowly, he weaved his fingers in the air, drawing circles above them.
Leo blinked as a light shower of soft white flakes fell over them. He glanced down at the thin layer of snow as it collected at their feet on the balcony.
“I think this is it. The last time.” Jack curled down his fingers.
“What do you see?”
Jack shook his head. “Nothing.” He smiled. “But I feel it.”
Leo wrapped his hand around Jack’s. Jack had told him stories of a world he would never see, of its brightness and colors. Those stories were from a time before Leo had met him. Since then everything had changed for Jack. The colors he once spoke of had slowly faded, along with his power to control ice and snow.
“I’m sorry,” Leo said. A rush of air whipped up around him, chilling his face and he retreated into Jack’s hold.
“For what?” Jack hugged him more tightly. “For loving me? For having me fall in love with you?”
With a sigh, Leo lowered his head and pressed his mouth to the thick material of Jack’s coat. “You don’t miss that world?” he uttered into Jack’s sleeve.
Jack had given up something magical to be with Leo, something, if Jack was right, he would now no longer be part of. Not even in a small way.
“I guess I do in some ways.”
Guilt clenched Leo’s heart.
“But that was then and this is now. I have no regrets. How could I?” Jack pressed his chest firmly to Leo’s back. “Happiness. Warmth. Love. Things I had foolishly given up. You gave me a second chance.”
Leo closed his eyes and listened to Jack’s silky voice. It was like Jack’s words were wrapping around him, smooth and comforting. Jack wasn’t the only one who had been given a second chance. With a broken heart, his feelings walked over, and love thrown back in his face, Leo had been on the verge of giving up on the same things Jack once had.
What might I have become?
“I love you,” Jack said. He held his hand out in front of him, his palm upward. “Once more. For you.”
To Leo’s surprise dim waves of light washed around Jack’s hand. “Is that…” He held his hand above Jack’s and watched the faint threads of blue twist and turned in the space between their hands. He didn’t know what he was seeing, but it was beautiful.
The snow continued to fall. Stray flakes were sucked into Jack’s palm and spun into the light.
Leo smiled as the snow and light joined to briefly outline what looked like a heart.
“It’s yours,” Jack said. When Leo looked up at him, he added, “My heart.”
Arching his neck, Leo met Jack’s mouth with his own. He breathed in deeply through his nose and slid his hand up through Jack’s hair, holding his head steady as he kissed him.
Jack’s heart. Leo was glad. He parted his lips, pushed the tip of his tongue against Jack’s soft pout. He curled his fingers down behind Jack’s ear, letting out a low, contented sound when Jack’s tongue met his. To Jack, Leo had also entrusted his heart.
“I love you,” he whispered as they parted.
A bright smile spread across Jack’s face and he looked up at the sky. The curved lines of light began to fade. They flickered, a soft glow pulsing around Jack’s hand before disappearing.
Leo glanced upward as the snow lessened. The last of the flakes settled on his cheeks. He looked at Jack.
He’s still smiling.
“Does that mean…” Leo gripped Jack’s hand. Was he okay?
With a nod, Jack gently rubbed the wet droplets from Leo’s face. “That was everything I had left. But you saw, right?”
“Then I’m fine.” He tapped the end of Leo’s nose. “Let’s go back inside.” He leaned close to Leo, whispering in his ear, “I’ll let you warm me up.”
Leo laughed as Jack nudged him in the small of his back. “I’ll fix you a hot drink.”
Jack kneed him in the butt. “Sounds good.”
They headed back inside.
“You’re really okay with everything?” Leo said as he sat on the edge of the bed. He toed off his shoes then pulled his legs up.
Jack unzipped his coat. “Honestly, I am. I’ve been okay for a while now.” He let his coat fall to the floor.
That’s right. Jack’s powers had lessened a little with each month that passed.
“Hey.” Jack jumped on the bed beside Leo. He moved forward on his hands and knees until his face was close to Leo’s. “I. Am. Fine,” he said and planted a solid kiss on Leo’s cheek. He moved behind Leo and pulled him down to lie with him on the bed.
Leo settled against Jack’s chest. Jack was warm, his hold inviting.
“Do you know why that is?” Jack asked as he kissed Leo’s hair.
Leo arched his neck to look up at him.
“Because I have everything I need right here.” Jack pulled hugged Leo close. “Everything.”
Leo closed his eyes.
Yes, Jack is right. This is fine. This is everything.