The noise Eros made could not rightly be called a scream, nor was it a groan of horror. A garbled open-mouthed combination of the two burst from him as he grabbed at sheets and flung himself away, rolling to cover himself. He heard Martin’s warning shout, felt fingers grasp for his ankle - but too late. He hit the floor with a thump that knocked the breath from him.
“Douglas?” Martin’s voice was over him. “Are you all right?”
Eros groaned. Skies, his head felt as if Titans were beating the inside of his forehead. A hand plucked at the sheet and he yanked it away, tugging it more tightly over his head. “Don’t look at me!”
Eros huddled under under his shroud and tried to bludgeon his aching brain into cogitation. How could he retrieve the situation? Skies, what if it was too late? What if Martin had been god-stricken, his mind warped into a degree of love that wasn’t of his own volition. No. No, think harder, sky-god. He must have only seen the guise. “Ah. You got me. It’s Douglas. I, er. I wasn’t myself last night. Had a bit to drink after you left. I, er, don’t really know how I ended up here.”
The mattress creaked as Martin sat over him. Under the edge of the sheet Eros could see the toes of one foot curling into the carpet. Martin sounded less nervous and more exasperated. “I can hazard a guess. You’re being ridiculous.”
“Am I?” Eros squinted at the toes. Martin had a few fine ginger hairs on his biggest. How had he not noticed that before? How cute. He pushed the distraction away. “Well. Breaking into houses, not in my usual line.”
“You somehow mistook my house for yours and wound up in my bed?”
Eros grasped at this. “Yes! I, er, decided that I’d help you after all. With your… problem. Taking you away from your husband. We’d better hurry, my captain. Get a bag and some things together.”
The toes flexed into the carpet again. “Oh. Will you help me pack?”
“Well, that’s great,” Martin said, and now he was fully exasperated. “It’ll go much faster, since you know where everything is. This being your home as well as mine, Eros.”
Shit. Shit. “No, not quite right, though I can see how you might confuse me for a love-god. It’s really Douglas.”
“Douglas.” Martin’s voice was flat. “Douglas, the smooth-talking smarm-god. Who, incidentally, would never cower like a panicked blancmange on my bedroom floor.” There was so much truthfulness in that sentence that Eros found himself offended. “Do you think I’m an idiot?”
“No,” Eros allowed. “But I am curious. What makes you think I’m your husband?”
“For the gods’ sake, I can’t talk to you when you’re like this!” Martin’s foot moved to lift the edge of the sheet. Eros’ hand shot out and grasped his ankle.
“All right,” Martin sais in a soothing voice as if to a frightened animal. “Okay. You… you just stay there. I’ll talk to the sheet.” Eros retracted his hand. “Um. Well, there’s lots of reasons why I called you my husband. Because you are, aren’t you.” Eros said nothing. “Okay. Well, at the end of the long list, there’s the fact that I woke this morning next to a man I’d never seen before who happened to be wearing my copilot’s trousers and a shirt that was stained with green whiskey.”
Eros shut his eyes. “How do you know I'm not just a random stranger who saw this Douglas, beat him senseless and stole his clothes?”
“Oh ye gods." Eros allowed a smidgen of hope into his heart before Martin bludgeoned it. "Eros, I hope I know you well enough after a year to know you would never do such a thing to a friend of mine. I trust you.”
Eros shuddered, the words curling tight around his heart and cutting until it bled. Martin, Martin, no, don’t.
“And aside from everything else, I heard you. Last night.”
“You weren’t asleep?” Minor outrage sparked in Eros. Martin made a noise of negation. “Oh. Oh, skies. You weren’t asleep.” If Eros hadn’t been so intoxicated, he might have noticed that Martin hadn’t been making that odd whuffling snore of his. He’d been awake. “The whole time?”
“How do you expect anyone to sleep when a singing housebreaker climbs in your bed, mutters drunk confessions and cries all over your face?” Martin asked.
“It was not all over your face! Why didn't you say anything? It could’ve been a real burglar!”
“Most burglars don’t have the unmistakable voice of my husband. Most burglars wouldn't go for a first storey window without a ladder,” Martin pointed out. “And I… I was waiting.”
“Waiting for your husband to come home?”
“No, Eros. No.” Eros pressed his cheek into the carpet at the ache in Martin’s voice. “I was waiting for you to finally tell me the truth. I’ve been pushing at you for weeks. Why couldn’t you tell me?”
“I…” Eros was caught. He expelled a breath. “How long have you known?”
The foot shifted, toes clenching. “I guessed something was off ages ago. I was more certain after I had a little chat with Arthur. That day you saw us hugging?”
“Ah.” Eros contemplated. “In retrospect, I overreacted.” Like a jealous husband, in fact.
“Yes, Douglas. Though why you couldn’t have said something then? For a while I actually thought -”
“That Arthur was me? Skies, Martin! Arthur couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag!”
“I know. But I’d asked about the bandanna. Did you ever notice how odd he got around me sometimes? For a while, I thought he had some sort of crush. He got so upset when others were, well, acting interested in me in, well, overly-familiar way, yourself included. But it turns out he really was looking out for me. You know about his father.”
“Right.” Gordon Shappey was an adulterous bastard that had never prayed to Eros or enjoyed his truest blessings. Eros had never thought about how that might affect Arthur’s home-life when he was young and impressionable. He shifted. The carpet really was beginning to itch but he wasn't ready to emerge and destroy Martin’s mind. Perhaps he could hide under the bed. No, that would be cowardly. Never mind that’s he’s seen you already. “What about the bandana?”
“It’s an interesting thing,” Martin said. “Remember how surprised I was that Arthur was such an amazing matchmaker? Second only to yourself, of course.” Eros groaned, knowing where this was going. “Turns out he was taking lessons, kind of. From Douglas Eros Richardson. Your days off must have been incredibly tedious, having to hide from me -”
“I wasn’t hiding, I… fine, yes, we met up sometimes, chatted about things. I helped him, I admit.” Eros couldn’t just switch off being a love-god, after all. Helping Arthur pair off his friends had been a vicarious pleasure.
“Meddler. And besides chatting, you went shopping?” Martin’s voice was amused. “For things like ugly rainbow bandanas?”
“I didn't mind. Much. Arthur’s a good sort,” Eros said. “Fine. Is that the bulk of the evidence leading you to think that.. that I'm Dougas and your husband Eros both? A stained shirt, a bandana...” He remembered Martin’s face, blindfolded with bright cloth, crying out his pleasure in a hotel room. “Circumstantial.”
“A bandana that you and he both bought. A bandana that was somehow left in my hotel room. Where would my husband get such a distinctive thing? Except from a certain cowboy shop that Douglas had visited, or from Arthur himself. One of his daft gifts, maybe. But still.”
The metaphorical card was laid on the table. “But still…”
“And there’s what I heard last night. And who I found in my bed, before you decided to make yourself into a bedding burrito.”
“Ah.” Eros’ heart sank. Yes, that. Fine. You win, Martin. “How, er. How do you feel right now?”
“Um?” Martin said. “Besides annoyed?”
All right, perhaps it wasn’t too late for Martin’s free will. Cautiously Eros asked, “No overwhelming passion? Burning desire? Would you like to have some sex, perchance?”
“I don’t think now’s the time, do you?” Martin’s voice was tart.
Better and better. Martin’s feet curled over each other. Eros couldn’t help himself - he stretched out an arm and touched Martin’s big toe. It twitched. He grasped it between thumb and forefinger, rubbing. Martin giggled nervously but didn’t pull away. Eros drew in a long breath. Now came the real test. “Are you ready to quit flying now?”
“What?” Martin yelped. “No, of course not! Anyway, that was part of our arrangement, you promised - why are you laughing?”
He was, helpless chuckles that shook him. Oh, thank Nyx, Martin wasn’t god-stricken with hopeless love, Eros couldn’t have borne it if he had been. Martin was wholly himself, the uptight, funny, determined, sweet thing he’d always been. “Nothing,” he gasped. “It’s nothing. I’m lying on the floor under a sheet petting your toe. I’m in love beyond all reason. It’s a reasonable specimen of a toe. It has hair on it and I love it because it’s your toe. I’m past all hope.”
“Oh gods, Eros, please will you come up here?” Martin begged.
“All right.” He paused. “I’m still a bit concerned. I’ll do this in stages.”
“For the sake of the heavens, I’ve already seen you!”
“For my peace of mind, then.” With care he unwound himself from the sheet and sat up. He looked down - yes, there was Douglas’ large chest under the open uniform shirt with its smattering of curling hair, the powerful arms and capable hands. Not a bad guise at all, this body. He rolled his shoulder, smoothed back his mussed hair and looked at Martin. “How’s this?”
“Very handsome.” Martin’s lips parted in a smile. “I always thought so. I really envied you. If I hadn’t been married… anyway. Gods, look at you, Douglas Richardson in my bedroom. Why am I so lucky? Come up, sit beside me.” He scooted back against the headboard while Eros settled himself. He held out an arm in invitation but Eros shook his head.
“I’ve a bone to pick with you, Martin Crieff.”
Martin’s eyes widened. “What now?”
“You… you set out to deliberately see me in person, in spite of my warnings and outright saying you couldn’t. You defied your god.”
Martin’s brows drew together. “You’re not my keeper! And you’re not my… okay, you’re my god, but you’re also my husband!”
“You little idiot,” Eros growled. “Don’t you realise the risk you took? What if you’d lost your reason? What if you’d become so enamoured that everything else faded into insignificance, including your flying? I’d never be able to handle the guilt if that happened!”
“It was my risk to take!” Martin shot back at him. “I had to do it, I took the chance because you wouldn't! Someone had to be brave enough to try, and, and… I don’t think it would have changed the way I feel about you! So, so, so there! Who’s the idiot now, huh?”
“What?” Eros said, dumbfounded.
“I’m already blind in love with you! It doesn’t matter if you’re Douglas or, or Eros or whatever! Don’t you see, I’d love you no matter what!” Martin was leaning forward with hands clenched as if just restraining himself from either pulling him in for an embrace or pummelling sense into him. “What I mean is, I’m already crazy about you. If I went mad seeing you, it wasn’t going to change anything! I wouldn’t even have noticed the difference! Or cared! I want all of you.”
Eros gaped. The ache in his chest began to warm, just a little. “You mean that.”
Martin pulled at his hair in agonised frustration. “Yes! For the sake of the heavens, please will you just… just let me see you?”
Eros took a breath. The guise began to slip away. Martin watched, mouth open a little, breath quickening. Eros flushed with unaccountable shyness. Ridiculous in a being of my age and suavity. He’d never felt this exposed while sitting mostly clothed with another person. “All right?”
Martin grinned. “Still think you’re a berk not telling me ages ago. Keep going.”
“Martin,” Eros said in warning. “No mortal can withstand my full presence. I don’t want to -”
“I’d give up flying for you,” Martin said. The impact of the statement was a punch in Eros’ chest. He gasped. Martin scooted forward and took his trembling hand. “Go on.”
Trust me, he meant. Show me. Eros looked at his husband, the blaze of his beautiful determination and let it bolster him. He had to do this or let his cowardice taint their relationship forever. He relaxed and let himself be.
Martin’s face glowed with wonder, his hand lax in Eros’. “Martin?”
“Uh?” Martin shook his head as if to clear it. Eros released his hand and leaned back on an elbow in an assumed casual pose.
“Don’t you think I’m the most handsome man you’ve ever seen?” He knew well the appearance he presented - fit, well-muscled, chocolate dark eyes and hair - the full flower of manhood. Even in a partial guise his very presence exuded dangerous amounts of sexual passion and love.
Martin’s eyes were running up and down the length of his body as if mentally stripping away the wrinkled pilot’s uniform. He wet dry lips. “What?” The clear grey eyes returned to Eros’ face at the question.
Eros felt the prickle of foreboding. “Tell me what you think, dearest.”
Martin smiled, besotted. “I love you.”
Eros’ stomach turned over. “Do you?”
“Yes. Absolutely. I adore that beauty mark by your mouth.” Martin nodded a few times, his smile still loopy with happiness. His brows drew together. “Your chin is a lot pointier than I’d imagined. Huh. I didn’t expect that. I mean, when I felt it in the dark -”
“What?” Eros exclaimed. “What?”
Martin looked panicked. “Oh, oh shit, I mean, yes, you are very attractive, but maybe not the most handsome - oh, gods, just strike me down right now.” He buried his face in his hands. “I didn’t mean it!”
Eros made a sound halfway between a sob and a whoop. Laughing, he dragged Martin atop him in a flurry of flailing hands and a knee to his thigh that made him grunt. “You mean you don’t love me?”
Martin braced his arms on either side of Eros’ head. “No, I meant that. I do love you but -” The words were cut off as Eros rolled him over with a kiss. Martin returned the frantic open-mouthed presses as best he could between Eros’ chuckles. Eventually he gave up and let his head fall back while Eros buried his face against Martin’s shoulder and wheezed with laughter and relief.
When his breath returned, Eros mumbled, “I’m so sorry.”
Martin’s hands ran possessively up and down the curve of his husband’s back. “I can’t believe you put us both through that. And surprised you just didn’t use an arrow on me.”
Eros nuzzled the soft spot beneath Martin’s ear. “It would have been easier. But I found I wanted you to love me for myself.”
Martin turned his head to allow Eros better access. “I am so angry with you right now.” His loving tone belied his words. “I ought to run off with ‘Douglas’ just to prove a point.”
“You can still run off with ‘Douglas’ if you want,” Eros returned. He pressed a last kiss and moved to the side, letting his guise flicker into place. When he spoke, his tone was Douglas’ rich baritone. “I may have been a little inebriated last night, Martin. But I assure you, I was quite willing to give up my role as the god of love and live as if I were mortal Douglas Richardson.” He winked the famous Richardson wink and Martin snorted.
“Wouldn’t that be the headliner of the decade.” Martin turned on his side to face him, eyes were soft. He ran fingers through the smooth greying hair. “Though I love you like this too. No more pretending, please.”
“Except in bed?” He waggled his eyebrows Douglas-style.
Martin grinned. “Yes, except then, First Officer.” He wriggled closer, tangling his legs with Eros’. Eros chuckled his wicked Douglas laugh and scooped him closer but Martin stiffened in his arms. “Wait. Wait. D-did you say you were going to give up being the god of love?”
Eros didn’t dare to so much as blink. “Yes, I did.”
Martin’s eyes held his gaze, searching their depths. “F-for me?”
“Of course, darling.” Eros smiled.
“Douglas,” Martin said.
It was probably the Douglas-smile that gave him away, Eros reflected with bitterness. Apparently the ‘act’ was all too easy to see through if one was married to a Martin. A Martin who loves you, his heart sang, and that’s why you’ll never get away with tricking him again. He sees through you, he sees you.
He supposed it was worth it.
“Douglas,” Martin said again, and why did it sound so right, Martin saying Eros’ assumed name with the old familiar suspicion? Eros throttled the urge to laugh. Douglas, what have you done now, no, don’t try to put me off, I’m your captain - I know you, it said. “Explain yourself.”
Eros rolled away to sit up and rubbed his hands down his aching face. The Fates either loved him or hated him, giving him Martin. “Yes, my captain. But you’re not going to like it. Come on, love. I think I’d better soften you up first in the time-honoured fashion of grovelling lovers everywhere by making you a hot breakfast first.” He extended a hand and helped Martin up.
Martin didn’t like it, as Eros had predicted. Damned if Eros was going to let his folly poison their marriage any further, but it was still painful. Over omelettes, sausages and several cups of coffee, Eros poured forth the tale. The narrative was punctuated with exclamations of amusement, shock and fury from Martin.
"You mean, you were the one sitting with that, that slick catamite waving a dildo?" Eros roared with laughter and promised himself Pothos would hear his husband’s opinion of his guise-style later.
“A bet. A bet.” Martin had real trouble swallowing that part. “I was a bet. You bet you could make me fall in love with you. This whole thing was, was a bet.”
“Dearest, parroting the word ‘bet’ isn't going to change it.” Martin glared but subsided muttering. Eros went on.
Martin held up a hand to halt the explanation. “Okay, so you thought you’d been infected with longing. But really - marriage?” Eros drew a steadying breath. Besides wanting Martin for selfish reasons, it had made perfect sense to marry Martin to keep him near and limit Martin’s opportunities to find love elsewhere. No, he wasn’t proud of that.
Nor was was he proud of how, as Douglas, he’d arranged to make Martin so unhappy at MJN, so insecure in his skills as a pilot that he’d quit flying and thus spend more time with Eros. The drinks trolley surfing, the cat, the botched landing with the brakes on... The list of all the small humiliations Douglas had heaped on Martin made Eros feel small and sick.
“And… and you... Douglas.” Martin gulped and set his utensils down. “You… at night, you comforted me. I was so happy. But, b- but you also encouraged me to go in and make a fool of myself. You gave me the idea to try and bully Douglas… I mean you… and make you call me ‘Sir.’ And then in Qikiqtarjuaq…” He covered his mouth with his hand.
"I know. I’m so sorry." Eros approached Martin with caution, but Martin turned and grasped his shirt, burying his face against his stomach. Eros ran gentle hands over Martin's shoulders. "Don't forgive me. I drove you to the edge; it was cruel and needless. I haven’t forgiven myself. I nearly killed what was best and brightest in you. That trip to Qikiqtarjuak, I saw. I couldn't go on after that.”
Martin’s voice was muffled against his shirt. “I did wonder. That was what started me guessing about you. You, I mean Douglas… you were much, well. I wouldn't say less sarcastic, but definitely nicer after that.”
“And you did get your own back, after all. Bashing my ginger beer. Finagling a salary. You had both of myselves worried, the way you’d gone all secretive and odd. But you handled everything magnificently.” Eros bent and kissed the bright curls.
“You… you made me work for it, didn’t you? All that stuff I accomplished. You didn’t make it easy,” Martin said. “Especially your apology.”
“A little. But it was sincere. I was and am very sorry for how I treated you. And may I also say you made an attractive scoundrel with your open shirts and stubble? It was all I could do to keep my hands off you in the flight deck.”
“You and Laird Leverhulme’s son,” Martin shot back and managed a snicker at Eros’ growl. “Okay. What about the exploding toilet?”
Eros sighed and sat back down. “My own influence has nothing to do with your bizarre turns of luck, Martin. Why do you think I kept imploring you to pray?”
“Blue-footed booby,” Martin muttered and attacked his sausages. Eros sniggered.
“Dearest, you’ll saw through the plate like that. And I did save the day, didn’t I?”
Martin popped the bite of sausage in his mouth. “Yes,” he said grudgingly. “And so all this time, you were in fact with me all the time. Watching out for me.” He twiddled his fork, uncertain. “Um. So - the Vulcan trip. Would you have given yourself away - I mean, would you have saved me if… if I’d... if I'd...?”
The coffee cup trembled in Eros’ hand. He set it down and blinked as the handle came away in his hand. Martin's eyes widened. “Martin,” Eros said. “I don’t think you want to know. I don’t think anyone wants to know what I’d be capable of, or what I’d have done if you died on that fucking trip.” He continued staring at the piece of china in his grip.
A hand crept into his field of vision, pulled the handle away and curled around his. “I didn’t. You saved me. With Arthur’s help. And, and the peanut butter.”
Eros lifted Martin’s hand and kissed it in a gallant gesture. “Anything for you, my captain.”
Martin’s mouth curled. “Including doing everything in your power to stay near me. You are ridiculous. I was fine, you didn’t have to.”
Eros used his leverage on Martin’s hand to reel him close enough to nibble small kisses along his jaw. “Au contraire. It was completely needful, in case you’d forgotten our night together.”
“Wasn’t talking about that,” Martin murmured. “I was talking about how you stayed with me in the hospital, holding my hand.”
Eros drew back. “You were sleeping!”
“Ah,” Martin crowed. “Got you!” Grinning so widely that his eyes were squeezed to slits, Martin’s triumph was so palpable that Eros could only return the smile. “Besides, there was my phone.”
“Loads of texts from Hermes, of all people, and not one message from my loving, my frantically worried husband.” Martin smirked. “You didn't send any. Because -”
“Because I was bit busy keeping your insides from killing you, landing a plane -”
“Eating fried testicles! And going shopping for gay cowboy accessories with Arthur!”
Eros threw up his hands. “Yes, yes! Don’t forget ‘worrying himself so distracted that he made several errors in judgement that led us -’”
“Here,” Martin said. “It led us here.” He lifted his chin. “With my detective work.”
“And a bit of derring-do,” Eros finished. “Don’t be smug. I’m giving credit where it’s due for once. Am I ever going to be allowed to forget this?”
“Not a chance,” Martin said cheerfully. “It’ll be nice to have the memory of my triumph to cling to when I’ve lost the cheese tray yet again or when some other bizarre misfortune lands me in it knee-high. Sorry, Douglas, but I need it.”
“Blue-footed booby,” Eros breathed, and dodged the corner of toast Martin flung, chuckling. “Come, my irascible darling. The weather’s fine. Let’s get cleaned up and go for a walk.”
Showering with Eros was lovely. Showering with Eros as Douglas with the bathroom window open and sun streaming in was a whole new realm. It wasn't a fantasy Martin had ever entertained before, but he willingly let himself be backed against the tiles and caged in by Douglas’ larger form. The thrill of the illicit combined with a heady feeling of rightness as his first officer cupped Martin's head and drew him to his softly smiling mouth.
Martin kept his eyes open, droplets clinging to his lashes and running into his mouth as he gasped open-mouthed, drinking in all the sights he’d been denied so long. Douglas’ dark eyes were half-lidded, hair darkened and slick. The murmured wicked commentary sent jolts of arousal skittering up Martin’s spine as Douglas’ hand clasped their erections together and wanked them with maddening slowness. And when Douglas’ face went slack, mouth falling open as he groaned Martin’s name, it sounded like a prayer.
They dressed between lingering kisses and made their way out, taking a track that led through farmer’s fields. Strange, Eros thought, how familiar it felt. In a lovely way. Martin’s shoulder brushed his as it so often had when they’d walked together as captain and first officer. Martin twined his hand with his and smiled up at him, nudging him with his elbow.
“We can do this now.”
“Yes,” Eros said, throat tight. “We can.” He squeezed Martin’s hand.
They spread their jackets and sat with their backs against one of the trees skirting a field where sheep grazed. “Smells rural,” Martin joked.
“Don’t be snobbish. This is a fine, classical scent,” Eros responded. “Reminds me of when the world was younger.”
“Dirt, dung, sheep…” Martin leaned his head on Eros’ shoulder. Eros buried his nose in ginger curls and took an exaggerated sniff.
“Post-coital lads. Yes, just like the old days,” he said happily. Martin snorted and linked their hands again, gazing across the fields. He sighed.
Eros grimaced. “Well, there’s no changing the past.”
“And luck. Imagine if I'd never been at that pub."
“Yes,” Eros mused. His mouth opened as a memory surfaced, Tyche’s sly smile swimming in his vision as she’d patted his cheek. “He has all the luck he needs,” she’d said. Martin’s luck, its wild swings from bad to unbelievably, once-in-a-lifetime good. Eros felt annoyance and amusement bubble up within. She’d known all along, damn her. “Just your luck, which we all know is infamous.” He released Martin’s hand and draped an arm over his shoulders, pulling him in tight.
“Mm.” Martin was quiet a moment. Eros felt the tension as Martin started winding up again. He puffed a silent laugh.
“A bet, a sodding bet! Honestly, Douglas, if -"
"Darling, really, the bet was an excuse -"
"- you ever try this again, I swear -"
"- because you were sitting there, and all right -"
"- you will be sleeping on the sofa for eternity, and -"
"- I was in denial but what's a love-god to do when -"
"- I will take every landing from you from now on -"
"- it's love at first sight? Nyx's tits, take all the landings, I don't care!"
"- not to mention take the entire cheese tray... What did you say?"
"You can have the landings. They mean a lot to you, apparently, and I can't deny you - ow!" Eros rubbed the place where Martin had pinched him.
"No. Before that," Martin said.
"It was love at first sight."
Martin was quiet. "Really?" he said at last.
"Yes." Eros shifted. “You must understand, Martin. I would've done my best to win you, bet or no.” He grimaced. “You're right. Involving you in the wager was a terrible thing. But - it kept me from... well."
“Shooting me in the arse with an arrow,” Martin finished. "Making me a, a kind of love-zombie."
“Exactly,” Eros said in a low voice. “And I would have cheated myself as much as you. You would've given up flying. That... would not be the man I fell in love with."
“I guess... I guess it did work out, when you put it like that. Serendipity. All right.” Martin played with Eros’ free hand, sliding his fingers between until they slotted together. “I tried not to love you, you know.”
“I’m aware. I don’t hold it against you. You were right not to.”
“I knew it was a losing battle after that night in Kamloops. And then I was so upset and confused… And then there was that enlightening chat with Arthur.”
“And the clues fell into place, and I went through Hades for weeks believing I was losing you. Did you do that on purpose?”
“No!” Martin was indignant. “Not really. Well, maybe a little. It wasn’t easy, deceiving you.”
Eros exhaled heavily. “Again, well within your rights to punish me. Leaving me for Douglas, egads.”
“Let’s not think about that any more.” Martin leaned up to brush his lips over Douglas’. “For today anyway.” He smirked at Eros’ groan.
“You’ll never let me forget it.”
“I will. For weeks at a time, even. B-but... I do forgive you.”
Eros rested his head atop Martin’s curls, enjoying the slight weight resting against him. Martin wasn’t finished, though, as the comfortable silence was broken with his next words.
“P- probably would have loved you anyway. You gave me flight, you know.”
Eros made a low noise of negation. “No, darling. All I did was try to keep you from it because I'm a selfish sod and a clot. No, Martin, unless you meant it as a sweet metaphor for love, I most certainly did not help you fly.”
Martin straightened to turn and face him, Eros releasing him with reluctance. “You don’t remember, do you?”
Eros frowned at him. “Remember what?”
Martin ran a hand through his curls. “Oh, gods, I suppose you wouldn’t, I mean, it was years ago. Well, maybe not so long ago for someone like you.”
“Yes, I’m an ancient being and you’re a mere stripling in comparison, no need to belabour the point. What is it I’m meant to remember?”
“When I was a child. I met you when I was five. You must remember the story, I told it to you… to Douglas. On the night of my stag do?”
A glimmer of memory came to Eros. “Oh. Hang on a moment.”
Martin opened his hands. “I was playing in a field, pretending to be an aeroplane…”
“And I saw this little chap in a blue shirt with a spark so bright it caught my eye even from on high and dropped down to investigate, yes!" Eros took in Martin’s expectant face and blinked. Serendipity strikes again. “Skies above.”
Martin nodded. “You told me… you told me to become a pilot. That I would never be alone if I flew.” He swallowed. “And, and it’s true. S-so how could I not love you? You, you gave me the determination to, to follow my dream. T-the things you say you love me for. I became a pilot because of you.”
“Martin,” Eros breathed.
“And, and flying with you, b-being with you, I learned so much. About flying and, well, about having confidence in myself.” Martin choked a laugh. “You, you helped me be a better pilot. A better man. S-so, even if I have rotten luck the rest of my life, I’d still thank the gods that they sent you to me. Because you’re just what I needed. And, and I love you, Douglas Eros Richardson.” He smiled.
Eros reached for him and Martin clambered into his lap, clutching fistfuls of jacket. They kissed, fervent and deep until they were both gasping. With his eyes closed, Eros could still see Martin’s spark blazing as he told Martin everything he felt without words. They kissed and all fell into its proper place. Finally Martin drew back and rested his forehead on Eros’, ginger lashes fanning his cheeks. Eros rocked them both gently, arms and heart full.
“Love you too, Martin Crieff. Love you, too.”
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