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The Greatest Gift

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Marwan lifts his gaze and looks through the dancing flames of tonight’s campfire. It’s beginning to die down but there are still dancing slices of light, and on the other side of them, right across from where Marwan is sitting on one of those large, barky logs, is the man he loves.

Luca is sitting next to Ale, and they’re sitting so close to each other that they’re touching. Their entire bodies are lined up against each other, ankle to shoulder, and they’re leaning in even more, so much they must be able to feel the heat of each other’s skin, exchanging quiet words in Italian, their eyes glittering with the fire’s light, their faces glowing with the embers. Every now and then, they smile, and every now and then either of them reaches out to touch the other, the knee, the arm, the hand. Once, Ale reaches up and ruffles Luca’s hair, then smoothes it gently. Every now and then they take a swig from their beer bottles, and whenever Luca does, Ale’s eyes drop to Luca’s lips.

Occasionally, they even laugh quietly, but most of the time they look serious, almost somber. Marwan’s eyes narrow as he tries to read Luca’s face. He watches Luca tilt his head and smile at Ale, and he watches Ale’s face reflecting that smile, his eyes reflecting Luca’s like mirrors.

Luca chooses that exact moment to look up, and his and Marwan’s eyes meet across the fire. Marwan’s stomach drops, and he can’t help but smile when the corners of Luca’s mouth curl upward. Luca exhales deeply, slowly, and his face relaxes, his eyes filling with something Marwan can’t quite place. A question, Marwan thinks, and all he can do is hold Luca’s gaze and nod.

Ale looks up as well, and Marwan can feel his eyes on him, he can feel how Ale’s scrutinizing gaze scans his face, but when he breaks eye contact with Luca and turns his head a little, Ale’s staring into the fire, his eyes focused on something only he can see.

Later, when the fire has died down to mere embers, Luca, Ale and Marwan are the last to rise and make their way inside, back to their rooms. Marwan waits at the door to their suite, holding it open, while Luca and Ale say their goodbyes in the dimly lit corridor, Ale holding Luca’s hands in his, and Luca’s shoulders tense with thought. Their foreheads touch for a moment, and Marwan steps inside their suite then, still holding the door open but retreating from that sphere he doesn’t belong in. They deserve that space to be just for them, they deserve that small privacy.

Marwan closes his eyes and breathes as evenly as he can. His chest swells with love, and when Luca walks through the door, walks past him into their suite, when Luca’s hand comes to rest on his chest and Luca pauses for a moment, Marwan smiles.

“I need to talk to you,” Luca says, and Marwan nods, closing the door behind them. He switches the “Do not disturb” sign on and locks the door. They’re supposed to check out by eleven am tomorrow morning but he knows that the resort is holding the suits for the cast and crew for at least another week in case their schedule is delayed, so they can take their time.

“I know,” he says and leans back against the door for a second before he takes off his jacket and hangs it on the rack at the inside of the door. Luca’s already unlacing his shoes, and Marwan can feel himself smile again. “How about we talk in bed?”

Luca looks up, and his brow furrows briefly, but then he smiles and nods. “Okay,” he says, toeing out of his shoes. He runs his fingers through his hair and casts a look towards the bathroom. “Let me take a quick shower first, okay?”

“Can I join you?” Marwan asks. Luca has just pulled his pullover and shirt over his head, and his hair is sticking up in all directions. He looks ridiculously perfect.

“Yes, please,” Luca says, undoing his belt and buttons. “I would like that very much.”

They exchange gentle touches and tender kisses under the warm spray, their cocks half-hard and their bodies still bristling with the flames of the campfire. They don’t talk much during their shower nor when they dry each other off, just the occasional quiet turn around, the murmured here, and the softest brush of lips or fingertips against warm, glowing skin.

Marwan slips under the covers first and holds them up for Luca to join him. They’re both clad in soft, worn-out t-shirts and boxer shorts, and Luca feels warm and solid against Marwan’s side when he slots up there, resting one hand on Marwan’s chest.

“I need some time,” Luca says after a long pause, and Marwan’s chest tightens. Even though he has expected Luca’s words, has heard almost exactly the same words in his mind long before they are spoken, they startle him a bit.

“Away from me?”

“No,” Luca says, running his hand over Marwan’s chest, and Marwan can practically feel the frown on Luca’s face. “No, not that.”

“With him, then?” Marwan asks as calmly as he can. “With Ale?”

“Yeah.” Luca nods. “I want—I want to spend some time with him. Here,” he adds after another moment of silence. “Just with him. There are some things we need to…” He falls silent, and Marwan lets his eyes flutter shut. “There are some things that we need to say.”

“Do you love him?” Marwan asks and tries not to sound too apprehensive.

Luca nods again. “You know I do.”

And Luca is right, Marwan does know. Of course, he does. “More than me?” He tries to make the words sound light, like a tease, a joke, but he thinks they sound small and heavy nevertheless.

“Differently,” Luca says, and Marwan draws in a deep, shaky breath. “Not more.”

Marwan reaches for Luca’s hand, takes his fingers in his, and holds them tight right above his heart. “How long do you need?” He asks, and he can feel how his heartbeat evens out. Whatever Luca needs, he’s not only willing but also prepared to give it to him.

“I don’t know. A couple of days? A week, maybe? I don’t know.”

Marwan nods. He has known the answer before he even asked the question.

“Will you come back to me, after?”

The silence that follows Marwan’s question wraps around them like a warm blanket, like the warmth radiating from the campfire’s dying embers.

“I want to,” Luca says, and his grip around Marwan’s fingers tightens.

Marwan buries his nose in Luca’s hair and inhales deeply.

“Good,” he says. “I’ll be there. You know where to find me, then.”

Earlier, Marwan had thought Luca would be too tired to make love, too worn out both physically and emotionally, but when Marwan has almost fallen asleep, his heartbeat low and his muscles lax and heavy, Luca’s fingers disentangle from his, and Luca’s hand slides underneath Marwan’s t-shirt at the same time Luca’s leg worms its way between Marwan’s.

It’s slow and deep, and when they reach their peak at the same time, their mutual release feels so intense it almost hurts.

Luca falls asleep first, a long time before Marwan, and Marwan’s fingertips keep running over Luca’s skin, tracing the lines of his shoulder and his clavicle, his jaw and his cheek, and Luca’s skin smells so good, so unbelievably good, and the thought of how lucky they are, of how lucky he is fills Marwan to the brim.

Luca’s deep, even breath eventually lull Marwan to sleep when the first sliver of dawn already kisses the edge of the horizon.