The Man I Love

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Aiden couldn’t sleep. There was no reason why. The girls were sleeping in their rooms, it was dark, it was quiet, and Kellen had been breathing quietly next to him.

There was absolutely no reason why he should be awake in the middle of the night, sitting in the kitchen on one of the barstools.

Aiden picked at the food in front of him. He’d eaten a little bit, but wasn’t really that hungry. He didn’t even know why he’d heated it up. His mind simply kept wandering, thinking about everything yet nothing at all.

Despite how distracted he was, he didn’t jump when Kellen was suddenly behind him, wrapping his arms around Aiden and plastering himself to his back.

“Are you okay, honey?” Kellen asked softly, turning away to yawn.

“Did I wake you?” Aiden asked instead of answering the question. He turned on his stool, steadying Kellen with his hands on his hips.

Kellen gave him a curious look. “I reached over and you weren’t there. It threw me off.” He put his hands on Aiden’s shoulders.

Aiden could feel the warmth of his fingertips through his tee shirt. “Sorry to worry you,” he apologized wryly. “I’m not sure why I’m awake. I just can’t sleep.”

Kellen smiled like he understood, stepping back wordlessly and holding out a hand for Aiden. He led Aiden away from the chairs, winding his arms around Aiden’s neck and leaning into him.

Aiden let himself be led through the simple swaying motion for a few minutes, feeling some of the anxiety in his chest dissipate as Kellen held him. He put a hand on Kellen’s chest to make him pause. Without words, he pulled out his phone, and on the lowest volume, put on a slow song. It was one of the one’s they’d danced to at their wedding.

Kellen’s smile widened at the gesture, and even after all this time, that expression made Aiden’s heart skip a beat. His husband was rumpled, with sleepy eyes and messy hair, and was still warm from the bed. Aiden thought he looked just as attractive as the day they were married.

He led Kellen this time, exhaling when Kellen laid his head on Aiden’s shoulder. Their bodies were pressed together, warmth between them as they swayed back and forth to the low rumble of the music.

“Are you feeling better, Aiden?” Kellen asked softly as the next song began.

Aiden hummed. “Yeah. Yeah, I think so,” he murmured, taking a deep breath. “Kellen?”

“Hmm?” Kellen leaned back to meet his eyes.

“I’m really happy,” Aiden said. “I’m not sure what I did to deserve an amazing life like this.”

Kellen’s smiled widened, the dim light from the kitchen dancing in his eyes. Aiden was so familiar with those eyes by now that they could have been his own. He’d spent so many years staring into those eyes and being held by those skillful hands.

Those hands pushed Aiden away from the pitching machine all those years ago when they first met. Those hands were the ones that held Aiden through their first kiss, that latched onto Aiden when Kellen climbed in his window, that pulled him close when they reunited after seven years apart.

Aiden knew those hands. He knew that smile, those hips, that face, those rhythmic feet.

Kellen would never take credit for it, but from the moment that he’d danced into Aiden’s life and into his thoughts, he’d made Aiden feel alive. He’d let Aiden be himself.

Kellen would say that Aiden gave him a family. He’d say that while he felt left out with his mom and stepdad, that Aiden had given him love, the unconditional love that he’d always been missing. He’d say that Aiden had accepted him and taken care of him when his headaches became too much. He’d thank Aiden for loving him like he had.

But Aiden was the thankful one. Whenever he thought of Kellen, whether they were sixteen, twenty-four, thirty, thirty-two, or forty, he could only think that he’d been lucky to have the privilege to experience a love like this.

Kellen kissed him softly in response to his last statement, his hips still swaying to the music. When he pulled back, there was a calm smile on his face. “You’re a good dancer, honey,” he complimented quietly.

Aiden smiled in return. “I’ve had many years of practice. I think I’ll be spending the rest of my life trying to be as good as you though.”

“It’s a good thing that we have many more years to practice then,” Kellen said to him playfully.

“Yeah,” Aiden said under the low hum of the music. “Yeah, it’s definitely a good thing.”

He tightened his arms around Kellen. He could feel the man’s breath on his neck.

Aiden smiled, swaying back and forth with Kellen for who knows how long. He let the music surround them. They danced in their own little world in the dead of night, the dim light illuminating them in waves.

Things would change. They would age. The girls would move out.

But that moment in the kitchen would last forever.

Even twenty more years from now, or forty, or hopefully more, Aiden wanted to keep dancing with Kellen. Even when they could barely sway and their bodies were tired and worn, Aiden would think of this moment with his husband.

This moment when they danced together. This moment when they could simply be silent with one another, when no words really needed to be said.

But Aiden couldn’t resist. “I love you, Kellen.”

There was a pause. He felt Kellen smile against his neck. “I love you too, Aiden.”

Kellen leaned up to kiss him gently, still smiling. Aiden’s heart leapt happily in his chest.

He smiled back, forgetting to sway. As it turned out, Kellen still made it hard to think after all these years. Some things would never change.

Not that that was a bad thing.

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