Sean/Elijah. "You've never heard your name until he says it."
Description: Lo*trips, S/E. PG-13.
It's just a word, you tell yourself. One you've heard every day of your life ever since you can remember. In the mouths of everyone you've ever loved or hated, or both. Family, friends, business associates and strangers. In all your wanderings, it's the one thing you never left behind.
It's in your memories and in your fingertips. Subliminal. Second nature. Just a tag, a whim of choice not your own. Everything and nothing to do with you. Solid and honest and fit for purpose, you supposed. Why change it? Besides, you revere traditions, especially family traditions, even instant ones. And it was modest, unassuming, not over-burdened with expectations. Those came from you.
The word has grown with you, travelled, accumulated, acquired a currency of its own. You've heard it in more mouths than you can ever count, in more accents than you ever imagined, in more countries than you ever dreamed of visiting. In every shade of drama and emotion, from a whisper to a scream.
Yet somehow you never really heard your name until he said it.
He speaks your name for the millionth time, and it's like you're hearing it for the first. There is a quiet, authentic grace in that word you never suspected. A softly sybilant approach, a harmonious centre and a warm cadence.
You never knew that something you considered merely functional could be so beautiful. No matter where you both happen to be, it is a beat of intimacy between you that seems to shut out the world.
His voice is addictive, but it's in the way he says it. Unrushed and contemplative, as though he's considering its meaning, or tasting a subtle flavour. Trying it out with remembered pleasure, like one of his favourite jackets. In a wardrobe full of jackets and a life stuffed with people, he has his eternal favourites. You are one of them. It surprises you, every time.
He says your name a lot, more than most people. It opens and closes his sentences like a musical motif when he's around you. He just seems to like saying it, enjoys the sound and its association. Though the name has many owners, it is your smile he thinks of when he hears it. You are its true owner, the original. It is the word for you.
He loves you, of course. Even from that first moment, you sensed a kind of unfocused approval radiating from him. Intimacy forced it quickly from honest regard to unconditional acceptance, vaulting friendship and whatever else should lie between. Privately, you doubted his judgement while overcompensating on your part with full-blown adoration. Not that you've ever admitted it, or even accorded it much direct thought. Apart from everything you could lose, you fear your capacity for envy and you'd rather bleed than hurt him. Analytical and suspicious to your bones, you're surprised how easy it is to let a generous feeling simply breathe.
You've heard him say your name now in so many ways and so many moods; when his voice is ragged from overwork, careful with irritation, sloppy with alchohol or raucous with laughter. He's spoken it as a question, an apology, a rebuke, an affirmation, a jibe and a caress. Mostly though, it's just there, like the frequent touch on your shoulder, the quirk at the edge of his mouth, the half-lidded glance. I know you, it says. I know you know me.
The usual serenity of it in his tone is less than honest. It denies difficulties, smoothes over awkwardness, editorialises. And yet it's truer than honesty. Your self-flagellating ego crashes against his indomitable optimism, yet the constant current of his affection is the only thing he considers worth keeping. That makes it a performance, one meant for you, instinctive yet considered as always.
After all this time, you've never tired of hearing him say it and you can't understand why. It shouldn't still feel like a cool breeze on a sun-burned cheek or snowflakes on your tongue. It shouldn't make you want to shut your eyes for a moment and stand on a green hill with him far away. It shouldn't make you feel weak and strong at the same time, but it does, and you struggle to keep your pride in his exuberant fondness from showing.
In the present, the distance between the two of you sometimes seems to stretch into infinite space. Relative space. Cyberspace. Telecoms space. An experiential gulf bridged only by his patient forbearance and a vehement declaration of never letting go. You pretend scepticism but if he falters your hand is already outstretched to catch him. His love is one more thing you'll never leave behind.
He speaks your name, he's calling you. It's only a word, you tell yourself. A split second, a syllable, a heartbeat. Yet in that heartbeat, you've slipped into a private world with him, and before it ends, you've answered his call.
- the end -