Leo leaves for Seoul on a Monday. His flight is at noon so he still has time to putter around in the kitchen to make Lucas breakfast before his leave-taking. He’ll only be gone for three weeks, but seeing his bags all packed and his bed neatly made, knowing Lucas won’t have anyone to accompany him to the gym for awhile, makes Lucas feel…oddly bereft. It’s a strange feeling, one Lucas can’t exactly pin down. They’ve been apart for a few days when Leo left for Korea a week ago and Lucas had been fine, then, for the most part, and didn’t mope around like a lovelorn girl. It was due in part to Leo’s frequent phone calls. He called thrice in a day, in the morning when he knew Lucas would be getting up from bed, then at lunch time just to see what he was up to, and then again before bedtime to berate Lucas for not eating well, or keeping such strange hours.
Leo liked to recount his day down to the food he ate; he talked haltingly, like he wanted to make sure Lucas was still on the other line, and Lucas filled the pauses in their conversation with affirmative noises just to let him know he was still there. Leo often talked about the places he visited, the things he thought they could do together if Lucas had gone with him on his trip, the absurdity of his longing, and how much he missed their apartment, the little nook in the kitchen where they shared their morning tea and bullied each other into cooking breakfast until one of them caved — a confession that only seemed to emerge late at night or too early in the morning when both of them were on the verge of sleep.
But Lucas liked listening to him, even at dawn when Leo’s voice was still thick with sleep. Often times he imagined Leo lying in bed, looking out the window of his hotel room and his view of the glittering Seoul skyline, maybe thinking of him too.
It’s only three weeks but watching him don his coat at the door and heft his bag over his shoulder, Lucas is suddenly filled with the overwhelming urge to throw himself at Leo. Which is unsurprisingly what he does: arms locked around the width of Leo’s shoulders, face buried in the collar of his coat, his grip shaky with panic but sure. Leo smells like mint and shampoo. He’s stiff for a full three seconds, immoveable and silent, but then his arms come around Lucas’ waist and Lucas feels the warmth of Leo’s hands slide just a fraction underneath his shirt. He’ll miss those hands, Lucas thinks, then feels ridiculous immediately, flushing at the thought. They aren’t anything — he and Leo, not dating, not boyfriends, not even friends for very long — so there really is no reason to miss him this much.
“Um,” says Leo once the both of them have recovered from the initial awkwardness. It’s only then that Lucas realises, uncomfortably, what they must look like: Lucas standing on his toes with his arms seizing Leo in a fierce hug, Leo with his hands cupping Lucas’ hips, his lips just a breadth away from Lucas’ neck. It isn’t like they haven’t been caught in compromising positions before; Leo has no concept of personal space, he invades Lucas’ privacy with no shame whatsoever. But this feels … different from all of those times, intimate somehow, deepened by the silence that seems to be pressing all around them.
“If I’d known you were going to miss me this much…” Leo teases.
“Shut up,” Lucas says, his voice muffled by the cloth of Leo’s coat. “Shut up.”
Leo says nothing for a while — and then he lays a hand over Lucas’ head, patting him awkwardly. He pulls Lucas back to look him in the eye, a slight frown creasing his face as he cups Lucas’ shoulder and squeezes.
“I’m not going to war,” he says, chuckling. “You act like I’m going to war. I’ll be back before you know it.”
“I know,” Lucas mumbles. “I said shut up.”
“All right,” Leo acquiesces. “All right.” He tucks Lucas under his chin and they say nothing for a while, standing by the door and hugging each other until Leo gives Lucas one final squeeze that nearly lifts him off his feet. When Leo lets him go, Lucas still has his arms loosely circling Leo’s shoulders, which makes Leo laugh and press their foreheads together. He doesn’t kiss Lucas — Lucas will need to brace himself for that inevitability at some point in time — but it’s a near thing, Leo touching his nose to Lucas’ cheek and breathing in deep.
“I’ll miss your smell,” he says, softly, to himself. “And your hands, and everything attached to them.” Lucas can feel Leo’s lips moving against his cheek, and it makes his entire body flush so much that his toes curl. He wonders if Leo notices; with his fair colouring, it won’t be much of a stretch.
Leo starts touching Lucas at random now, just to prove his point: the back of his ears, his jaw; he sweeps his fingers across the side of Lucas’ neck before pressing them, just the two, to his lips. “These too, I’ll miss,” he says, and Lucas can’t help but roll his eyes. He evades Leo’s attempts at fake-kissing him, short of elbowing him in the gut, until Leo grabs him by the wrists and presses an unsolicited kiss to the side of his neck - quick, dry, hardly anything at all, but it makes Lucas’ toes curl and he responds in a panic by threatening to kick Leo’s ass, a knee-jerk reaction when Leo’s touches make him feel unmoored.
“You’re crazy,” Lucas tells him.
“Well, I get that a lot,” Leo says, still laughing. “Mostly from you.”
Leo slackens his grip on Lucas’ wrists, then lets him go completely. “Anyway,” he says, after a pause. “I guess that’s it, then. I’m off.” He pats Lucas on the head, rather awkwardly. “Be good. Eat well. Follow your curfew.”
“I’m not a dog,” Lucas says.
Leo shrugs. He pushes the front door open, rolling his suitcase across the hall and stands there for half a second, looking awkward, before giving Lucas a two fingered salute. “Well,” he says again. “I’m off.”
“All right,” Lucas says.
“All right,” Leo echoes. Then he lets out a frustrated huff and steps forward, crowding Lucas against the door so that the doorknob digs into his spine. Lucas is overwhelmed momentarily by their sudden proximity, by Leo’s hands framing his face, that he almost shrinks away when he feels Leo kissing him, soft, coaxing, the kind of kiss he could only imagine people give in movies: slow and sweet.
When Leo pulls away, Lucas is still shivery, his knees weak with nerves. He doesn’t know what to do with his hands, or where to look. He feels absurdly light and small, suspended in Leo’s embrace, his hands on Leo’s broad shoulders.
“Lucas,” Leo says, “Lucas.” He taps Lucas’ face to get Lucas to look at him. He seems… worried. Like a little kid who knew he’d done something bad. “Lucas, hey, look at me.”
Lucas blinks out of his daze. It takes him a moment, but then he blinks again and remembers to breathe and is buoyed back to the present. “Uh,” he says eloquently. “You’re a pervert.”
Leo laughs, relief flooding his face. He steps away from Lucas, holding him at arm’s length but not really letting him go. “Thanks,” he says. “I’ll call you once I get there, all right?”
“Sure,” Lucas says dumbly.
“Be good,” Leo says. He gives Lucas’ hand a squeeze. “Don’t miss me too much.”
Lucas rolls his eyes and snorts. “I won’t,” he promises, though a part of him knows that’s a lie.
When Leo finally leaves, Lucas shuts the door and sinks against it, thumping the back of his head repeatedly. “Stupid, stupid, stupid,” he mutters to himself. Then he touches his lips and glances down at his fingers, ducking his head the way he often does when he can’t seem to stop smiling.