It was a long day. In part because I hadn't wanted to leave the comfortable, happy bubble that Cayn and I had constructed around ourselves, but also because it had been a pretty crappy workday. One kid had thrown up on me, and I'd had to spend the rest of the day in a shirt from the lost and found. It barely fit, and I kept getting whistles from the other aides. My shirt was in a bag now, and I planned on throwing it into the washer as soon as I walked in the door. I was a bit cross.
The door wasn't locked, but when I stepped inside, it was almost completely dark. The only light came from lines of candles that flickered atop every flat surface. I walked carefully across the living room and into the hallway. "Cayn?" Maybe he'd gone to bed.
I stuffed my shirt in the washer, then just stripped down to my boxers and put everything in the wash, along with the contents of the nearest laundry bin. The machine thumped rhythmically behind me as I made my way to the bedroom, dancing with the candlelight.
No answer from Cayn, but if he'd gone to bed, then the candles were just
weird. They were already weird, butI shrugged to myself and opened the bedroom door.
There he was. Standing right across from me, wearing nothing but his bathrobe and a tie, his face blazing dark red and his eyes dimming the tealights on the desk. "Welcome home," he said, barely above a whisper.
My breath caught in my throat, nearly choking me. "It's not our anniversary, is it?" I knew it wasn't, not to the day, anyway. Some part of my brain was holding me in place, demanding an explanation. As stupid as that was.
Cayn slinked over to me with the grace and care of a besotted catI'd seen a lot of thosehis arms gradually lifting to reach for me and pull me up to him. "Does it need to be?" He was definitely attempting a husky undertone, but his usual timid diffidence raised the pitch and added a wavery quality.
I laid my cheek on his arm, noting that he wasn't in a hurry to even touch the bathrobe. This might have been because he wanted me to take care of it, or maybe it was that his hands were already busy. "You have no idea how perfect you are
"Nnheeeemmnot you are," he warbled. Then he squeaked very loudly and jumped, taking me with him. I angled us towards the bed, and we eventually got there.
All of my body ached, and I was sure I still smelled like kid-puke, but Cayn had a sensitive nose, and he hadn't mentioned it. The candles, the bathrobe, the tie I was twisting in my fingers
it was all so elaborate. And Cayn hated ties, he only ever wore them to make me happy. Or win an argument. "Really, love, is something wrong?"
He ducked his head and hid it in my neck. In the years we'd been friends, I'd gotten used to him avoiding difficult questions, but now he'd found a way that came very close to working. And he knew it.
My eyes started to roll back in my head. "Did you visit your dad?"
I couldn't tell if that was an affirmative grunt or sound effect. However, I didn't know if I was allowed to push it. After Cayn had finally introduced me to his dad, we'd gotten along okay, but some things weren't hard to see. He wouldn't be thrilled if he ever found out about Us. I sighed, maneuvering my legs to get at least my bottom half under the blankets.
A warble of my own sang out of me, followed by a surprised whuf. Cayn chuckled into my neck, then eased the sore patch of skin with little kisses that migrated down my chest. I had never been bitten by anyone over the age of six. This felt extremely different. And
if he'd broken the skin, it would leave a mark, almost everything that broke my skin left a mark.
I giggled idiotically, curling around him. It was like getting a ring, only weird and kinky. Therefore, it was a lot better than a ring.
But I was still exhausted, and I didn't think I could match the eager intensity Cayn was radiating like a bug lamp. I swallowed, took a deep breath, then slithered down the mattress to meet his eye. "I can't stay up all night again," I whispered, aiming for tender and hitting allure instead.
His mouth drooped. "But I
The candles'll be good for another hour at least
I had to laugh, and that meant pulling him close to me and nuzzling his self-confidence over the black minimum mark. "I can give you that." Even when he was
Excited, Cayn was a little more given over to cuddling than he would likely admit. And that could be more restful than deep sleep.
I got off work a few hours early the next day, and once again came home to an empty apartment. This time it was locked and Caynless. I sighed at the difference and consoled myself with some of the poetry he'd given me in his sleep the night before. It couldn't possibly have been on purpose, but that made it even better.
The apartment wasn't its usual spotless self, so at least I had that to do. I found a box and started clearing up the candles. Most of them were tealights, and were completely spent, but there were some scented types that were housed in glass jars. They'd probably been school party favors that I'd stuffed in a closet, but they were reusable, so I put them in the box and threw out what was left of the tealights.
It was lunchtime, but I wasn't hungry. In fact, I was kind of
the opposite. I held a hand over my stomach, then guided myself to the bathroom to get a look at my face. Heh, there was the mark Cayn had made on my neck. I ran my fingers over it, careful not to poke too hard, and enjoying the frightening thrill. Then I examined my face.
Yup, going greenish white. I sat on the floor and held my head between my knees, slowly counting backwards from 1000.
That didn't work. I made it to the toilet, and stayed there for a while, just retching and whimpering in broken French. I didn't even move when it stopped. My limbs felt weak and full of water, my entire upper half was sweaty and cold.
The door opened slowly, creaking with a great deal of volume and character. Cayn stuck his head in, then nearly knocked the door off its hinges rushing over to take my arm. "What's wrong?!"
I tried to smile at him, but I wasn't exactly comfortable. "Just threw up a little. Probably some stomach bug, you know there's always one passing between the kids and teachers."
He wiped my forehead with his sleeve. "V-van, I-I-I-I
" He stopped and swallowed as though he were auditioning for a part in a cartoon. "I don't think you're sick."
"What?" I laughed. "What do you think it is then? I don't do this kind of thing on purpose."
"B-Because II had a visitor. Van, you"