Elliot woke up again around ten. In contrast to earlier in the night, he felt calm, and his mind was pleasantly fuzzy. The apartment was still, the air pleasantly cool. Sunlight streamed in, and the buzz of New York City traffic washed over him soothingly.
He and Tyrell had fallen asleep not long after they finished their conversation. Tyrell had begun to dose still sitting on the floor, with his head resting on Elliot’s shoulder, until Elliot had woken him up and moved him on to the bed. How Tyrell could even fall asleep in that position Elliot wasn’t sure, but he knew they’d both regret it.
Strangely, given what they’d both just done, Elliot felt weird about staying in the bed with him. It felt presumptuous somehow. He didn’t know how Tyrell felt about him. They’d kissed, sure, but Tyrell had been so distraught that he probably would have accepted comfort from anyone. Maybe he was pretending Elliot was Joanna. For some reason though, Elliot’s gut told him that wasn’t true. He knew how he had felt during the kiss, and it was impossible to believe that feeling was one-sided. The way Tyrell had moved, responded to him, moaned at his touch… that was hard to fake, and he didn’t think Tyrell would bother trying to just for his sake.
Jesus, he was married though. It seemed ludicrous to Elliot that after all his morally questionable decisions, this one was really tripping him up. The brutally honest part of Elliot told him that his guilt was less about morality, and more about self-preservation; if he got attached to Tyrell, and Joanna came back, he would be alone and sad again. Best to just leave it alone altogether, the little voice inside him hissed.
Elliot ignored it though, and threw caution to the wind as he snuggled down beside Tyrell. The way he saw it they both craved comfort right now, so he wasn’t going to deprive them of that. His decision was rewarded by a sleepy murmur from Tyrell, and an arm around his waist. The weight felt comforting, and reminded Elliot that he was real, and solid, while the warmth spreading in the pit of his stomach reminded him that he was alive. He smiled into the darkness.
Elliot remembered with a small laugh, the first time he’d had that arm around his waist. He was definitely finding out that Tyrell was a cuddler, and he found it endearing. No-one would guess it to look at him, and Elliot felt like it was a secret they were sharing. Careful not to wake him up, Elliot pressed a gentle kiss on Tyrell’s forehead, and turned his body round slowly to face him. He watched the older man sleep, taking in his smooth, pale skin and the way the moonlight caught his hair and made it look silver. He looked at his lips, and remembered how soft they’d felt on his. As was becoming habit, he tenderly moved Tyrell’s fringe away from where it fell into his eyes. Only after he was satisfied that Tyrell was sleeping calmly and peacefully had he allowed himself to fall into a warm, comfortable sleep.
Now, Elliot studied him again in the morning light. His hair was dishevelled by sleep, mouth parted slightly as he breathed softly. He was a lovely sight, Elliot thought to himself, as it struck him that Tyrell really was, rather beautiful. If Elliot thought about it hard enough, he supposed he could always remember feeling a certain sort of attraction to him. But it had been the sort of attraction you might feel towards a flame- you’re drawn to it because something about it is compelling and mysterious, yet you keep away because instinctively you know it’s dangerous. It was only in the last couple of days that Elliot had felt his attraction morph into a real connection. Perhaps it was seeing him at his most vulnerable, the weight of the secrets they shared, or simply being in such close quarters, but Elliot felt magnetically drawn to him.
He liked the way Tyrell moved, fluid and graceful. He liked his long, lean body and how he took care of his appearance. He liked his smile, the genuine one, as rare as it was to see. And of course, he liked his eyes. How could anyone not? The bluest Elliot had ever seen, they were sharp, intelligent and expressive. Elliot had found them unsettling at first, but now he liked the feeling that Tyrell saw straight into him. They were the first thing Elliot had noticed about him (a first impression he was sure he shared with most people who met Tyrell) and they’d stayed in the back of his mind long after Tyrell had bid him a cheerful, ‘bonsoir Elliot.’ He kind of wished Tyrell would wake up so he could see them now.
He had liked how masculine Tyrell felt, but couldn’t help but compare him to the women he’d been with. Male or female, it had never really mattered to Elliot though. People were like computers. Inside their shells they were all made up of the same components, their actions determined by lines of code. They had their bugs and their flaws, but everything and everyone had a fix, of that Elliot was sure. But this was the first time he had ever been with a man, and he found himself liking it. He liked that everything could be a little rougher, a little harder. He liked that Tyrell had felt bigger, more solid. He hoped very much that he would soon get the chance to make him come undone. He felt like it would be a challenge, but the reward would be beautiful. After seeing him fall apart in such a painful way, Elliot wanted to remind him that falling apart could be wonderful too.
He could feel himself start to heat up as he pondered what his name might sound like if Tyrell were to moan it in his ear. Was Tyrell as loud and expressive as he expected him to be? Would he swear…and if so, would he slip back into his natural tongue? Elliot hoped so.
He fought these thoughts away as he began to feel flustered. Something felt weird about imagining them having sex when they hadn’t even discussed what had happened last night. Torn between not wanting to leave Tyrell, and needing a way to expel his anxious energy, Elliot finally settled on having a shower and getting dressed. Afterwards, he left a note by the bed, and ventured out to buy some breakfast for them, taking Flipper with him.
It had been a very long time since he’d made breakfast for someone, and he actually had no idea what Tyrell liked to eat. Again, he felt a jolt of excitement at the prospect of getting to know these details about him. After much indecision, he stopped at a little independent coffee shop he liked to go to, and picked up two large coffees, and a selection of pastries. In case Tyrell wanted something healthy he also grabbed juice and some fruit. Satisfied, he made his way back to the apartment.
Tyrell was still asleep so he slipped quietly over to the bed, coffee in hand, and kissed him lightly on the forehead. He stirred slightly and slowly opened his eyes.
‘Good morning,’ Elliot smiled. ‘I bought breakfast.’
‘Thanks,’ Tyrell mumbled, not looking Elliot in the eyes.
The tension in the air was tangible, and Elliot shifted awkwardly on the bed.
‘Um, so there’s pastries, or-‘
Tyrell reacted like Elliot had punched him, springing up from the bed angrily.
‘So you want us to eat fucking croissants in bed together, like we’re newlyweds? Is that it?! While my wife - my wife, Elliot- is missing?!’
Elliot blinked, rooted to the spot. The only thought that forced its way out of his mouth was, Elliot soon found out, the wrong one. ‘Last night we-‘
‘Last night was a mistake. I was weak and impulsive, it’s won’t happen again.’
‘Okay,’ Elliot mumbled, trying to hide the fact there were tears in his eyes. Tyrell appeared to be getting ready to leave.
‘Tyrell, I’m sorry. Stay, we’ll keep trying to figure things out together.’
‘No, Elliot, I can’t. I have to go.’ He quickly gathered his things and was out of the apartment before Elliot could even say another word.
Only then did Elliot let his tears fall.