Fire and Rain

He can’t describe what’s happening. How do you describe a whole new world? How do you describe the flavor of starlight, the color of music, the fragrance of love? How do you describe fire to a mermaid, or sunlight to a creature that has spent its life in shadow?

Leon smirks to himself at that last thought. He doubts anyone here would believe he’s even heard of Plato.

The path opens itself before him, bright and clear in his mind, like petals unfolding, like mists clearing, like the doors thrown wide on a breaking dawn. He knows what he needs to do.

He finds him on the far side of the fire. “Rain.”

Rain turns around slowly and their eyes meet, green locked with blue. Words fly up Leon’s throat, piling one upon the other into a tangled barricade, each fighting to escape first. He can feel the pleading look in his eyes, and he doesn’t care. At long last, he manages to choke out the two words that matter most.

“I’m sorry.”

Tension crackles between them, stretches out like taffy. Icy tendrils snake through Leon’s chest, into his belly. He’s too late. He’s gone too far. Something pricks at his eyes and he’s astounded to realize it’s the beginning of tears.

Rain reaches for his hand, and Leon’s heart starts beating again.

“I was afraid,” he says. “Of poetry, of you, of…” He swallows. “Of myself. Seeing you on stage…” He steps closer, lifts his free hand. Touches Rain’s collarbone lightly. Tentatively. “I’m empty.” He hears the bottomless pain in his own hollow voice. “I don’t want to be empty anymore.”

How does it feel to really be seen?

Another step, and their bodies are nearly touching. “You see me,” he whispers, eyes closing against the tears that are coming anyway. “You’re the only one who ever has.”

Fingers tighten on his other hand, and Rain brings it up between them. Presses it to his heart. Their heads begin to tilt together.

“Rain?”

Storm clouds darken Simon’s face. His eyes bore into them. “I wanted… I thought…” At his sides, his hands are balled into fists.

Rain takes a step toward Simon, a step away from Leon. No.

“Simon,” he says. “I know.” His voice is husky, and his face tender and sad. “You’re my best friend in the world. And I…” One of his hands still holds Leon’s. The other reaches for Simon. “I know you.” Then he looks at Leon. “And I want to know you.” He tugs on Leon’s hand, and he realizes Rain is trying to pull the three of them together. “Why don’t we go,” Rain says, “and get to know each other?

It feels to Leon as if the whole world holds its breath. He watches Simon and tries not to let his agony show on his face.

“Fuck that,” Simon says at last. “I’m out.” He turns to leave, then suddenly whirls back and takes a menacing step toward Leon. “If you hurt him…”

Leon takes a deep breath and looks Simon in the eye. “I won’t.”

For a moment he’s genuinely afraid the other man may punch him. He tenses, and whether he’s ready to fight or flee, he couldn’t really say.

Simon’s eyes narrow and his body quivers with rage. “I’ll fucking kill you.” And with that he stalks off into the dark.

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