"Looks like you're in for a tough trip, keep on truckin'!" Hannes tells Alexi upon his and Rael’s arrival in his country; having noticed his complete bewilderment about both the foreign location and the unfamiliar language. Directed towards almost anyone else, this would have been taken as a friendly encouragement, however Hannes had made the classic error of failing to take into account Alexi’s mastery of nit-picking and his general level of hostility. So, by suggesting that Alexi "keep on truckin'" in that blissfully ignorant yet ultimately well-meaning way of his, Alexi had already decided that the hand patting his back might as well have been slapping his face and waving him out the door.
Alexi folds his arms tightly and breathes sharply through his nose. "I've heard enough out of you, anyway!" he shouts at their host-to-be for the next month, head tilted to the side and eyes shut in an attempt to come to terms with this fact – a whole month – not wasting another look at the grinning idiot leaning over him.
This trip is for studying, he reminds himself, though his confidence in this isn't absolute. It seems to Alexi that schools spend far too much of what limited budgets they have on work related ‘experiences’ and coach trips these days. Anyway, what he does know is that he didn't come here to defend his linguistic abilities to people who don't know when to keep their mouths shut, and he certainly didn’t come here to stab Hannes with the dessert fork he spots on the edge of Hannes’ kitchen table after having being let into the boy’s house.
(He isn’t sure why the first object he thinks of to injure Hannes with is a fork, but he assumes that this probably reflects better on him than, say, a machine gun. Hannes would survive a couple of jabs from the fork, definitely. Not so sure about the gun.)
Suddenly, Rael gasps and rushes over to the spare bedroom's window, dropping his luggage in the process. He traces his finger over a peacock-patterned curtain which is swaying lightly in the winter breeze, staring at it with such fondness as to be unnatural in your average teenage boy.
"This embroidery is so beautiful. Your parents must have good taste, huh?" he says, and Alexi doesn't doubt he means every word.
Rael, he concludes. He's here because of Rael.
"That's just how it is," Rael says, hands clutching his knees and eyes half-lidded from the fatigue he must already be aware comes with acting as a supplier for two people at once. "If Elias is okay with it, I have to let him charge off me."
Rael looks at Alexi with a hesitant expression, as if he’s an ocean about to switch from the calm to the storm and flood their entire dorm room. It's a look that makes Alexi simultaneously want to pull him in for reassurance and whack him upside the head for assuming he’d go off on him for something so pathetic. There's no need for him to be so cautious. Alexi's not as fussy as he used to be. It's an emergency; he gets it and he informs Rael so.
He does get it, by the way.
He gets that Elias has a big performance coming up, and that Keel's accident could render all of his work useless if Rael doesn't help him. Elias is a good person. He doesn't deserve to be left alone again and if Alexi was in his position he may very well have given up already. Losing your supplier – twice? Alexi doesn’t even want to consider it.
Shaking the thought, he drowns his protests in his still-steaming hot chocolate.
He gets that he’s selfish.
"Now I can go back to giving to you as per usual. No need to make sure I'm saving anything," Rael says after Keel wakes up and the doctors decide he's well enough to charge with Elias again. He loosens his tie and places a hand on the kitchen counter next to Alexi.
"Yeah, that'll be good," Alexi replies, and Rael trains his tired gaze on him, not bothering to hide the relieved smile on his face. It’s a slightly tilted smile that almost resembles a smirk. Smooth as silk, he leans in so that his mouth is mere centimetres away from Alexi's.
"What's it like having me all to yourself again?"
Better than Floran's homemade gingerbread, he wants to say. Instead, he blinks furiously and straightens his spine. "You dope…"
As Rael crouches down to look at the flowers in the courtyard, Alexi welcomes spring.
"Those are called miniature snowflakes," he says, nodding towards the white, delicate-looking specimens that Rael is currently gleaming at. "Well, that’s just a code name, but I'm not really into flowers."
"I'd love to take a few home…" Rael's narrowed eyes are slightly cunning, and for a moment Alexi fears he's going to whip out a pair of scissors and gather up all he can to put in the empty vase they keep on the coffee table by their pull-out couch. Fortunately for the flowers and for his reputation as reliable garden carer, Rael diverts his attention from the flowerbed in favour of the bench where the Prince had just recently declared his love to his partner, Mireille: the seemingly kind girl he'd known for the duration of about five minutes.
"Not only did they make up, but she got a real confession of love!" Rael had said, full of awe.
But a love confession to your partner, the person you’re biologically stuck with for the rest of both of your lives? This isn't something they're going to be seeing a lot, Alexi is certain. You don’t simply tell that person you love them, not in the romantic sense at least. It’s too forced, too awkward. Most importantly, it’s almost always untrue.
No, in this country, the sword is most definitely mightier than the pen. What you do for each other is what really matters.
To prove this theory to himself, Alexi scoops up a handful of miniature snowflakes and offers them to Rael, who receives them happily.
They will wilt soon, inside or outside, Alexi supposes. Rael might as well enjoy them while they're blooming.
When Rael comes home, he's drenched.
His hair is plastered to his forehead and his coat, possessing no visible waterproof abilities, tugs down on his shoulders with all the water its absorbed from the rain.
He sneezes in the doorway – a small, kitten-like gesture – and Alexi would be lying if he said he hadn't observed the action with some level of cute aggression.
He watches as Rael sniffs and shrugs off his coat for a suspended moment before it dawns on him that he's not being very helpful. Promptly, he moves away from the door to let Rael in.
"Thanks," Rael says as Alexi takes his satchel from him and places it on the counter. It's surprisingly heavy, probably due to his array of language textbooks. Alexi maps out the long route from the humanities department on the far side of campus to their dorm room in his head. Rael’s had to lug them all this way in the storm.
"Sorry you had to let me in. I always take my key, I can’t imagine why I would have forgot…" Rael trails off quietly. Alexi finds Rael’s standards for himself slightly infuriating.
"You're sick," he answers, though the question was never posed out loud. "Definitely not on top form, at least. You should have phoned me. I would have given you a lift.”
Rael sighs and drops onto the couch. He curls into himself, clutching a cushion. “And let your pretty face get all red and blotchy in this weather? Nah.”
Alexi grabs a clean kitchen towel from the rack and walks up behind Rael, who tilts his head back to blink at him. Surprising both of them, he begins to dry Rael's hair with the towel in slightly rough, circular motions.
Though he feels dumb doing it, Rael relaxing into his touch makes his heart hot.
They visit Floran and Gil on Alexi's birthday.
The weather is mild – mostly overcast with streaks of sun shining through – so they sit in the garden, spread out on a picnic blanket.
The present-opening process had occurred earlier in the day. He had received various biology books, equipment and clothes from Gil and Floran (practical things; he was pleasantly surprised) and Rael had distributed him with a large number of 'free kiss' vouchers. Alexi had had nothing to say to that.
(In Rael's defence, he had also promised him a trip to the botanical gardens in the near future. Alexi is more excited about this than he plans on telling anyone.)
They're all sitting around this year's ‘slice of Heaven’, as Rael likes to call Floran's annual homemade birthday cake. It's a fluffy sponge concoction with raspberries and icing and Alexi and Rael are looking at it with an unmistakable hunger in their eyes.
"Well, make a wish and dig in, Alexi!" Floran's voice tempts.
Alexi wants to dig at him for being impatient, but the only reason he hesitates himself is because his das has taken the day off work to make a double-layer cake for his birthday and this seems like an event he should savour, even if Floran would take advantage of any special occasion to close up shop.
Rael is pleading with him between gentle nudges to get a move on and Alexi finally leans in to blow out the candles; quite pleased with the swiftness of the motion.
“Ah, I see. All we had to do was get Rael to ask you, huh?” His father laughs.
Alexi is too embarrassed to even give him a look, and instead focusses on cutting up cake to distribute to everyone – save for Floran. Who said getting older made you more mature?
Alexi's mum sends him a letter on the first day of summer, and he receives it on the fourth.
The envelope is covered in a fluid ink-drawn scene of a forest footpath winding around evergreen monkey puzzles and pine trees. For a moment, Alexi is stunned by the intricacy of the design, but then he realizes that the picture has an unnaturally glossy finish and a company logo on the bottom left corner.
So she's not an artistic genius…
A strange sensation of relief washes over him. It doesn't really make sense; he can't expect to be aware of all of his mother’s hobbies and talents, especially after being parted from her for so long. He's aware of some articles – how she works as a chef like Floran, and how he can trust her when it comes to picking safe mushrooms to eat – but he doesn't know how she likes to style her hair, what books she reads or whether she prefers cinema to theatre, and he feels he should know if she can draw.
Slightly pensive, he opens the envelope with care to preserve the image on the outside. His mother's handwriting is clear and bold. It's strikingly similar to his.
I wonder how you've been doing recently with the move to university. Floran hasn't told me much apart from the fact that you're living in a dorm with your partner (nice kid, I approve!) and you're majoring in Plant Science. You can make a lot of interesting food with plants, you know. We should give it a go sometime.
…Which leads me onto the main topic. I haven't forgotten what I said when I saw you off. I still plan to visit you. It's summer now, which means things are rather hectic at the restaurant and I can't afford to make a trip out of the country, but I want you to remember…
You are loved, Alexi. By me and Floran, of course, and if your partner is anything like Gil, which I have been assured he is, you are loved by him, too. I am so thankful that my prayers have been effective.
Life in your country seems so foreign and strange to me sometimes with your system of supplying and receiving power, but then again, I guess I'm an outsider, eh? If you don't mind me saying this, being a receiver sounds a little troublesome to me, but with your dad, Gil and Rael looking out for you, I'm sure there's nothing for any of us to worry about.
Goodbye for now,
Alexi comes back to the letter many times over the course of the day.
Alexi drives a motorcycle for three main reasons: one, the 'cage-like' vibe one often associates with travelling by car is nothing like the freedom of having no roof over your head or doors locking you in; two, they allow him the headspace he so often requires while living in a homely yet radically squashed dorm room; and three, when Alexi gives Rael a lift, he gets to feel as if he actually contributes to their partnership in a way that only he can.
He realises that reasons two and three are a little counterproductive. ‘Oh really, you’re taking your bike for a spin to get time away from your roommate, the one who’s all pressed up against you while you drop him off at his class?’ one might point out.
But it’s not like that, you have to understand. Alexi doesn’t have any need to get away from the person who’s been in his life since before he entered primary education. He simply needs a little outdoor time occasionally – to just ride in an environment that’s so busy and automatic and hardly feels his presence.
Currently, Alexi is enjoying all three assets his motorcycle provides him with. He can feel Rael's arms practically stapled to his jacket – he's scared; Alexi had been too, at first – and Alexi takes a pleasure that he would never admit to in being the one holding Rael up while they speed past buildings and signs that they can hardly make out. Right now, he is the only thing stopping him from slamming into the road in a most unfortunate (and likely painful) display.
Of course, Alexi is aware that other receivers don't get just as… attached to their partners as perhaps he has. The tingly feeling he gets at the top of his head that transcends down his spine when Rael is around him isn't something other receivers experience, at least outside of charging.
In fact, the sensation Alexi feels when charging with Rael, he has inferred from many hours of aimless driving, is somehow interlinked with this feeling of simply being in Rael's presence. The only difference between the two that he can put his finger on is that the former gives him energy, while the latter puts him in a kind of 'dizzyingly calm' state. Like a trance. Ilse is right to think that being a receiver is troublesome.
"Alexi! Do you have to go this quickly?" Rael shouts over the sounds of cars and Alexi's own bike. His eyes are probably closed to avoid motion sickness, Alexi thinks.
"No faster than the speed limit," he replies. He need not have bothered, as he slows down anyway.
Alexi takes in as much air as he can in his next breath. He needs it.
He doesn't notice it at first.
How Elias has learnt his partner's timetable in such detail that you could ask, "Ten thirty on a Saturday morning?" and with no hesitation at all, he would reply, "Out at the market. He'll be back in fifteen minutes."
How the reason Keel is constantly yawning and nodding off during experiments isn't due to excessive night time studying, but rather having to adjust to waking up at some ungodly hour each morning to charge Elias for his singing lessons.
How the two of them aren't a perfect puzzle-piece fit, (quite the opposite, really) but how they manage to make their partnership work through an equal contribution of both stubbornness and compromise, along with a fear of being left alone to rot that makes separation an inconceivable concept.
Just like me, Alexi thinks, head propped up on an elbow.
They're at a café – the new-ish one with fish tanks surrounding every other table and ambient music that Rael has been wanting to visit for a while now – chatting with Elias and Keel about what they're doing in the summer holidays. Suffice to say, Rael is doing most of his chatting for him. This wouldn't be anything new if his answers weren't so quick or… sharp.
"We're planning on spending a week at the lake, since my aunt has a lodge down there," Keel informs them, glancing at Elias who seems to have a permanent smile etched onto his face.
"Yeah!" the kid replies, though despite not being able to touch the floor while sitting on his chair and so just kind of senselessly swinging his legs, he's not really a kid. There's something about his disposition and general outlook on life since the death of his first supplier that makes him overly weary and incredulous. Alexi knows what that's like, and so he ignores the feet kicking his legs under the table every couple of minutes.
"What are you going to do, Alexi?" Elias asks him. "I mean, Rael said he was going to visit his mum and dad for a couple of days, but you're going with him, right? I'd hate it if Keel suddenly left and I was just stuck here…"
(Keel rubs his shoulder gently, as if to say "I'm not going anywhere.")
"He's coming back with me," Rael answers before Alexi can get a word out. "We're going to see Gil and Floran, too, before we go back to our dorm. I'd feel guilty if he had to endure my mum's fawning for nothing."
His laugh comes a second too late and lasts a moment too long to sound genuine. Alexi frowns.
"Di avere sentimenti per?"
"To have feeling for."
"Tenere molto a… Sorry. I'm not very good at pronouncing these."
"To care deeply about." Rael smiles. "Don't worry about that. I'm the one who needs to learn this stuff."
"I guess so." Alexi shrugs before scrolling through the next page of Italian phrases from the list Rael has printed off. "Ti amo."
"Ah, that one's easy!" Rael spins round from his desk to wink at Alexi. "I love you."
Alexi scoffs and turns his head. He knows what ti amo means, of course he does. It's basic knowledge, like how red and white mixed together make pink and how there are three hundred and sixty six days in a leap year. But Alexi hadn't particularly wanted Rael to tell him that there are three hundred and sixty six days in a leap year. For one thing, he doesn't doubt the truth in that specific statement.
What he'd wanted Rael to say was 'I love you', which he had done, and now Alexi doesn't know how to follow up or what he even wants to happen now. Rael is still looking at him, tapping his knee with a pen, cap-side up. He's probably waiting for another phrase.
"A cadere per," he reads, voice as level as he can make it.
"To fall for."
"Seriously?" Alexi is sure his pupils are dilated as far as they can go. A breeze from an open window flicks his hair in front of his face; fuelling his exasperation. "Every single… why are they all romantic? Even if it's in Italian, it feels weird saying all this."
Rael laughs. It's almost a laugh Alexi has heard countless times before, but not quite the same. There's an echo there, an artificial quality.
"They're all from the relationships module. It's mostly revision. There’s a speaking test coming up soon so I have to work on my vocabulary."
"Oh…" Alexi falters. "Well, you're doing fine."
They finish off the list in a quiet half hour and Rael practices writing out the phrases a few times. After a while, he stretches, states that Italian really isn't his forte and then shuffles off to bed. Alexi stays seated on the couch and stares at his mother’s letter long after he grows tired and the words lose their meaning.
He’d not noticed the message on the back of the note until somewhere around his sixtieth re-read.
Ah, before I forget, my beautiful son, call me ignorant of your culture, but you do understand that besides the kissing, a boy that grabs you by the collar when you’re being difficult, steals your jumpers even though they’re far too large for him and looks at you like you’re one of Floran’s prized pastry creations is probably interested, right?
These, Alexi thinks, hand hovering over a group of off-white mushrooms with small round caps. I think I'll avoid these.
While Ilse clearly doesn’t have any insight into her son’s personal life, she does have a gift with plants, and has taught Alexi in some detail about this particular type of mushroom. From a distance, they are easily mistakable for Lepiota, (though of course, Lepiota don't grow in this country) but when you get closer you can see that they are actually a fatal breed, most commonly known as 'destroying angels.'
Of course, he will always makes sure to ask his teachers if the plants he finds in the forest are actually edible before he blends them into a soup or something. After all, death by poisonous mushroom would be a truly stupid way to go.
Suddenly, Alexi hears crunching behind him and a pair of arms circle his shoulders. "Don't pick anything that could kill us, okay? I'm trusting you here."
Alexi doesn't have to turn round to know that the arms and voice belong to Rael. His playful tone alone is enough for Alexi to be able to distinguish him from any crowd, and he’s pretty sure they’re alone here anyway. He feels a tickle on the back of his neck and wonders if it’s the wind making his hairs stand on end or Rael poking him in hopes of gauging some reaction.
Alexi's head is dizzyingly light, but his knees are beginning to feel the strain from being leant on for so long and so he stands to face Rael.
"You don't look very well," Rael tells him, and before Alexi can shrug and insist that he's fine (he is; the dizzy feeling is nothing new) there are lips on his and fingers in his hair and energy is coursing through his veins.
There's an 'mm' that definitely doesn't come from one of his woodland friends in the forest, but Alexi has no clue if it's an utterance of his or Rael's. It turns out that as Rael strokes down his arm with a nail that stops only to circle his wrist, he doesn't really care.
It feels like Rael's given Alexi a week's supply of power when they finally pull apart. Usually at this point, after charging, they would continue with what they'd been doing before or wave goodbye to each other for the day, but now they do nothing but catch their breath and stare.
"Alexi?" Rael breaks the silence after a long, silent moment. He doesn't wait for a reply before continuing. "Does this mean anything to you?” He gestures to their proximity and heavy breathing. When Alexi doesn’t respond, he runs a shaky hand through his hair. “Am I… just a battery?"
The trance has vanished now. Just a minute ago he’d been floating. Now Alexi is left rooted to the ground with no breeze to push him along. There are a hive of questions swarming around his mind, the most prominent being – Ilse knew?
He finds himself thinking back to when they were younger and wore knee breeches and bows round their necks. He remembers school trips and holding hands and ordering different meals at the canteen so they could share, all an attempt of Rael’s to get to know him better. He remembers Rael asking him the exact same question right before Alexi shoved him to the grass in anger and showed him how he felt. It was the biggest argument they’d perhaps ever had, and the only one worth having.
"I'm just a big battery, right?" Rael had said then, and now he's saying it again. Sure, he says it in a more controlled voice than he had back then, but it's just as painful to hear, and Alexi just doesn't get it because haven’t they been through his already?
"Why do you even have to ask me that after so long? We're partners – we show how feel about each other every day! Gil and Floran talk about it all the time, how much you mean to me, how much power you have over me – what other confirmation do you need? We're not like Mireille and the Prince…" He looks away.
"Not like I haven’t tried," Rael says quietly, so quietly that Alexi hardly hears him, and then he's gone.
They can't avoid each other, not really. Partners never can. They've all been born into such a dysfunctional country where their lives stop being their own from the minute their biology screws them over and they’re assigned a partner. From then on, they have to learn each other's schedules, endure each other's illnesses, fit in with each other's families, share their rooms and holidays and even beds sometimes – all while having to meet up to kiss at least twice a day, no matter how many people are around or how they might feel about each other at the time.
Despite all of this, Rael is doing a pretty good job of avoiding Alexi.
He doesn't eat with him or take trips into town with him; he doesn't let him help him with his course work; he refuses every time Alexi offers him a lift and, after they charge; he leaves as swiftly as if he'd never been there at all. Nothing like the time in the forest.
At the moment, they're not even charging, and it's unbearable. Alexi has found an available supplier at the clinic whose partner has a cold, but she doesn’t match his wavelength, she doesn’t fit.
He's looking down at the tennis courts below him without really looking at all when someone starts hammering at his door. He doesn't answer it or say anything – he knows it's not Rael because Rael always takes his key – almost always – but he's left it unlocked and so when he hears the handle turn and footsteps growing increasingly louder as they move towards him, it’s more of an annoyance than anything else. Probably Noah from downstairs hoping to borrow some flour, or his partner Rosie wanting help from Rael with an assignment.
Just as Alexi’s about to explain that Rael isn’t home and, no, he doesn’t actually know when he’ll be back, the intruder speaks. "Alexi, you absolute idiot! I don't know what the situation is with you and Rael right now, but he's my friend, and if you want to avoid a severe whack to the head you will move your stubborn little butt to my hotel room this instant! Jesus, as soon as my school breaks up for the holidays I take the first train over here to see you guys and the sight that greets me is Rael collapsed on the floor because someone hasn't been charging with him since last week! I can't believe he's done this again. How much drama do you two need to have?"
Wait – who cares about Hannes… It's what's brought him here. It's Rael.
He's grabbed his keys before Hannes can take a step out of the room.
In this country, marriage is not practiced. Alexi has known this for a long, long time, and it has never mattered to him. If marriage were to be practiced, there would be no way of keeping the superficial relationship ‘add-ons’ or ‘upgrade’ or whatever you want to call it away from what's truly important.
Whoever the doctors decide is going to connect to your wavelength the best is worked out when you're a child, and from then on your partner is the single most significant person in your life. When Hannes had first visited, Alexi had told him this, told him that it would be stupid to complicate their relationships worse than they already are.
Told him that, although same sex pairs get put together often enough, they're still definitely the minority, and that sometimes, it can feel like some cruel joke played by God.
What a load of drivel that had been.
He's starting to get it, he realises, as the apparently incompetent courier in front of him refuses to move and Hannes’ nails dig into his waist. It’s starting to click what Rael and Ilse and Floran have been hinting at for all this time he's remained trapped in his own denial and self-pity. His relationship with Rael is biological, sure – they're partners! But they aren’t stuck like this, they’re not damned to a life of simple acceptance of their condition. They’ve had the chance to embrace it.
He's been so useless, even more so than he’d thought – assuming that the pen is dependent on the power of the sword, when in their reality, without the pen, the sword has little motivation to do much of anything at all. Alexi has been feeding Rael on blushes and weekly lifts to school, maybe with the occasional paying of their lunch or dressing up to meet Rael’s parents. How could he let these tiny acts become the only indication that he cares for partner at all? Of course you need to show how you feel, but Alexi’s been a bundle of mixed signals from the start.
He arrives at Hannes' hotel room cold and numb, but this hardly registers. Hannes nods at where he'd laid Rael down before running over to their dorm. (Rael hadn’t had his phone on him; there’d been no way to obtain Alexi’s number. He couldn’t remember how to find the medical room for the life of him – even if he had it would have taken too much time to find a suitable receiver. Hannes had explained everything on their way over.)
Somehow, Rael is conscious and sitting upright in the bed, and Alexi is too happy to see him to question it.
"Have I ruined everything? I couldn't– I just– you mean everything to me." He winces. It had come out before it could be tweaked and modified in his head. It ends up sounding too raw. Maybe this is what Rael needs from me more often.l
Rael watches him curiously. “I didn’t bring flowers,” Alexi adds, wanting to kick himself for how stupid it sounds. “I thought it would be… missing the point.”
Rael shakes his head. “Just kiss me, please. This energy is killing me.”
Alexi doesn't miss a beat. He sends every feeling he possesses for Rael along his wavelength as he kisses his partner. The envy that stirs within him when Rael transfers power with someone else, the warmness he experiences when Rael shuffles into a room in one of Alexi’s ugly jumpers or when he squeezes up next to him on their couch, the doubt he knew for far too long when he would jump in and out of step with the boy every other day. The constant longing, adoration and desire he can’t imagine he’ll ever stop feeling for him.
"Thank you," Rael breathes after Alexi kisses his cheek and his head stops pounding. "For telling me."
They ring in the New Year by watching the annual countdown fireworks.
They’d been laying side by side on Alexi’s bed, watching some vaguely interesting documentary on the secret life of mallard ducks when Rael’s phone alarm went off, reminding them that they were meant to be meeting Hannes at the plaza in twenty minutes.
They arrive on time – perhaps even a little early – spotting Hannes relatively easily from behind a horde of people, leaning on a tree in the centre of the plaza, waving them over. “You guys did remember your tickets, right?” he asks, digging his own out of pocket and flashing it in front of Rael’s face.
Rael and Alexi exchange glances before frantically checking their pockets and coming up empty. “Hah, thought not,” Hannes says with a grin. Alexi doesn’t even bother questioning why Hannes seems to be pleased about this display of forgetfulness, or why they’re starting the New Year with him in the first place, assuming he’ll be filled in shortly.
“So… guess who found the best place to watch fireworks from in the whole town?”
“Well, he wasn’t wrong,” Alexi admits as the first fireworks rise and explode directly above them.
“Right? This place’s observatory’s pretty darn useful for people who just can’t bear to pay £3.50 entrance fees for local events – oh, and for people who forget their tickets.” Hannes laughs. “Aren’t you glad I chose a uni up here? It’s even cheaper than in my country, like two birds with one stone!”
“A dream come true,” Alexi mumbles while Rael jumps up and down at the news, squeezing Hannes’ hands. Still, he considers, there’s no way Rael would have spent the entirety of the Christmas holiday on my bed watching awful reality TV with me if he hadn’t got involved, so I suppose I should thank him sometime.
"I'm so glad you guys decided to stop dancing around each other," Hannes says now, letting go of Rael’s hands and winking at Alexi, who can’t even summon the reserve of annoyance he generally keeps in the back of his mind for when Hannes says something stupid.
Right now, in this surreal moment with his entirely real boyfriend – he still can’t believe that’s the relationship they have now – he’s perfectly content with listening to the church bells count down to the New Year and watching Rael watch the fireworks with a hand smoothing his shoulder.
The title comes from John Mayer's song, 'Wheel'. I hope you enjoyed this little story for my favourite manga J