Free Fiction: Hanging
by Sylvia A. Winters
It’s story time!! This one’s a little 1k m/m fluff thing.
Nate groaned in protest, the insistent beep of his alarm paying him no mind. Finally, grudgingly, he swung an arm out of bed and whacked down the snooze button, buried his face in his pillow. His head hurt, stomach churned, and the room felt tentative, like it could tip over at any moment; staying in bed was certainly the best option.
He hadn’t realised how much he’d been drinking last night, how wasted he’d been, but he had hazy memories of throwing up in the bushes outside Amanda’s house, stumbling into the road on the way home and lying face down on the kerb, hoping home would come to him. How he’d eventually gotten back was beyond him.
Ten minutes later, and the alarm was off again. Snooze. Another ten minutes. Beep. Beep. Beep. Nate hit the off button and pushed himself up to sit. He felt shivery, and his hands were shaking as he peeled back the covers. Tea. He needed tea. And a fucking cigarette.
In his t-shirt and boxers, Nate made his way quietly into the kitchen, unsure who was out and who was asleep. If Jeremy was in, he’d be feeling just as bad as Nate by now.
Heaping sugar into his mug, he waited for the kettle to boil, holding his hand out in front of his eyes and watching it tremble. Water boiled, tea in one hand, cigarette packet and lighter in the other, Nate pushed open the kitchen door. He took a seat on the outside step and watched the sun play through the leaves of the old sycamore that stood just outside their yard.
He was halfway through his cigarette, just starting to sip at the sugary, milky wonder that was his first morning cup of tea, when a shadow fell over him. Tipping his head back and releasing a breath of smoke, he saw Jeremy standing over him, wearing an old Sisters of Mercy t-shirt and a pair of blue-striped pyjama bottoms.
“You’re still alive then,” Jeremy said, voice sounding smokier than usual.
“Can’t put this horse down,” Nate quipped, shooting him a grin. “So how’s your hangover, on a scale of one to ten?”
“Not too bad. Only a six and a half this time.”
“Oh, nice. Mine’s a seven.”
“I thought it’d be more, given last night.”
“What did I do?” Nate asked. Really, it might be better if he didn’t know, but something perverse in him had to.
Jeremy smirked. “Aside from vomming in Amanda’s mum’s roses and claiming the side of the road was your bed?”
Nate winced. “Aside from that, yes.”
“Well. Said bed you invited me into. Heck, you invited Chez and Mark into it too. Said you’d never had a foursome before.”
“True,” Nate conceded. “I haven’t. Is that it?”
“No.” The tone of Jeremy’s voice had changed, expression darkening, lips thinning.
Nate almost didn’t want to ask, but he did. “What else?”
Jeremy swallowed, and Nate thought he saw a flush of pink colouring his cheeks. “You kissed me.”
“I what?” Nate damn near inhaled the whole fucking cigarette, catching himself in time and spitting it out onto the ground. He tightened his grip on his mug. There was no way he would … no way, surely, that he could lose that much control of himself? He would have remembered, at least.
“I … Nate. You said you loved me. I’m not talking, y’know, the way we talk sometimes, man. You said … Well, maybe you know what you said.”
Nate didn’t know exactly, but he could just about guess. He’d lived with Jeremy for nearly eight months now, and in that time he’d fallen; fallen hard. Something about Jeremy, his thick mop of ginger hair, easy smile, the creases at the corners of his eyes; something about the way he made a cup of tea, the way he sang when he was cooking, about the way he’d say hello to cats in the street and let them curl around his ankles; something about the shy, self-conscious smile he’d give whenever he took out his reading glasses, the way he rubbed the bridge of his nose when he was thinking. Something about Jeremy had snagged at Nate’s heart and try as he might, Nate had not been able to untangle himself.
“I’m sure I was just messing around,” Nate said, ducking his head and pretending to take a long sip of his tea.
“Nate. Look at me.”
Nate looked, trying not to let the fear shine in his eyes, trying to keep from spilling his tea over onto his bare, bony knees.
“Do you remember what I said back?”
Nate shook his head. Again, he could guess. Something along the lines of ‘get away from me, you freak’. Although, no, that wasn’t very Jeremy. Perhaps an awkward, ‘thank you’, a pat on the shoulder and a ‘let’s get another drink’.
Nate was completely and utterly unprepared for Jeremy’s next sentence. “If I felt the same,” he asked, “what would that mean?”
Nate felt his lips part, his heart stutter, fluttering wildly in his chest. Something warm fizzed through his blood. Surely Jeremy didn’t mean …
“What would that mean?” Jeremy asked again, and there was a hesitancy in his voice now, something intense in his eyes and in the line of his mouth. He was scared, maybe just as scared as Nate had been all these months.
“I guess,” Nate said, finding his voice. “It would mean we’re both twats. For not saying anything sooner.”
Something in Jeremy’s shoulders gave, some tension there slipping away. He laughed. Nate grinned.
Soft fingers brushed over Nate’s cheek, thumb smoothing at the corner of his eye. “I think you should stand up,” Jeremy said. “So I can kiss you.”
Heat flooded under Nate’s skin, rolling through him. Part of him still couldn’t believe Jeremy was serious, that this was happening. Some delirious, hungover dream, perhaps? But he stood, setting his tea down at the edge of the step, and he and Jeremy were the same height again, give or take an inch.
Nate watched as Jeremy’s eyelids fluttered closed, the dark of his lashes stark on the pale white of his skin. And then he was leaning in, his lips soft, mouth warm. It wasn’t the most skilled kiss Nate had ever experienced, and the post booze-up breath was less than desirable, but this was Jeremy, his Jeremy, and Nate had never felt anything like it in his life.
As they parted, Nate had to wonder what would happen next. Would it last? Suddenly he realised he didn’t care. Whatever the future might be, this was now, and this was theirs.