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He was *almost* too late. Almost, because Dave was still there, but
all of his things were in boxes. The door was open, there was a man
there, walking out with a big black garbage bag. He looked at John but
didn't say anything, just kept walking down the hall and down the
stairs. He wondered if it was a friend Dave had kept here in Chicago,
someone helping him move.

"Oh, Mike, wait, this needs to be thrown out too," he heard Dave
calling, and the young man came out of the bedroom and into the living
room holding a small box. He stopped short as he saw John standing
there, his expression guarded. "What are you doing here?"

"I came to apologize," he immediately said, but then he couldn't
figure out what to do after that. He looked around at all of the
things. "You're leaving?"

"Yeah," Dave said, and began to walk past John. "I can take a hint."

"Dave, I'm sorry," John pleaded, reaching out and grabbing his arm,
and the box slipped from Dave's hands and to the floor. Some of it's
contents spilled out, novelty shirts and stuffed animals and
souveniers and pictures and.. John recognized it all. He looked up at
Dave. "You kept all that stuff?"

"Why would I throw it away?" Dave asked quietly, leaving it all there
on the floor, staring at it. "Look, I don't need your apologies, okay?
If you don't want to be with me, that's fine. I knew I was taking a
chance coming up here, and it just.. didn't work out. That's fine,
it's -- "

John reached out and slipped his hands on either side of Dave's face,
pulling him into a kiss. He didn't know what else to do, how else to
stop this from happening. Dave had left him once, he wouldn't let him
do it again.

"Dave, there was -- " It was that man, Mike. John pulled away as
Dave's friend spun around and out the door again. "I forgot something
downstairs. Sorry."

He looked at Dave again, who was standing there, his expression
startled. Then, he seemed.. afraid. "John.. " he began hesitantly. "I
don't know what that means. That night we kissed, and I thought that
meant something too, but it didn't. I don't know what you want."

"I want you," he blurted out, and rolled his eyes, realizing how lame
that sounded. Dave needed something better than that; he deserved it.
"Dave, I was just scared. I was scared that you were going to leave
again, or that I wasn't ready for this, or.. something. I don't know,
but I don't care. Because when I found out that you quit and that
you'd left, I just.. I knew, Dave. I love you, I really love you, and
I want to be with you, and I'm so glad you came back."

Dave looked around at all the boxes, quiet for a few moments. "I'm
going to have to unpack all this stuff again, you jerk."

John smiled. "I'll help."

"You'd better. I also need a new job."

"I'll get your other one back."

"You'd better," he repeated.

"I'm sorry, Dave," he said, stepping over their things so he could
stand flush to him. He put his hands on him, and Dave did the same.
His heart was pounding, but not because he was afraid; he was excited,
in more ways than one. This was the beginning of the rest of his life,
he should be. "I didn't mean to hurt you."

Dave looked up at him. "I didn't mean to hurt you either. And I love
you too."

John smiled, before leaning down and kissing him again, this time
slowly. There wasn't a rush, not when they had forever.

"Jeeze, you guys still aren't done?" Mike asked, from the door. "Do
you need me anymore, or can I go back to watching the game downstairs?"

Dave eased out of the kiss and glanced at his friend. "I think we can
take it from here. But thanks."

"So.. " John said, once Mike was gone. "You want me to help you unpack

Dave scoffed "Yeah, right. And we can start in the bedroom."

John grinned broadly. "Race you there."

"You're on," he replied, and then teased, "Unless you don't want to
'rush' things."

"Oh, I'm the jerk?" John said, before breaking into a run.

"You're a cheater too!" Dave called, before following him into the
bedroom. John jumped on the bed, and Dave joined him, getting on top
of him. He smiled down at him, that same smile he'd had when they were
younger, eyes lighting up and lighting a fire in John's heart. "You're
so lucky I love you."

"I am," John replied, nodding, reaching up and running his fingers
through Dave's hair.

His lover pouted. "You don't love me too?"

"Of course I do."

"Then prove it."

"I think I will."


The End.
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