The weather might be terrible, but Wes is having a good day. He has a boyfriend he adores, Finn’s acting career’s going well, and Wes just might be making plans to ask a certain question very soon.
But when an accident leaves Finn injured, none of Wes’s plans can help. There’s nothing he can do, and he’s afraid it was his fault. Even worse, Finn’s the one comforting him when Wes falls apart.
Wes wants to be strong for the man he loves. But he’s scared he isn’t doing enough. And there’s something Finn isn’t telling him.
With love and checklists and cinnamon-walnut scones, Wes will try his best ... and hope he and Finn can weather rainy days and tempests together.
“I can hear you worrying,” Finn said. “I appreciate it, I love you, but it’s not that far. I can make it.” Thunder burst in on the heels of that claim. The clamoring hiss of rain redoubled.
Finn sighed, “Thanks, weather,” and shifted weight, preparatory.
The rain hadn’t been this bad when they’d gone out. Drizzling, damp, pewter-lined. But not torrential. Finn hadn’t even brought the cane, because both legs had been having a good morning and the bookshop was familiar territory.
Wes looked at rain-soaked steps. Looked at his boyfriend, and thought about car crashes and joint replacements and metal implants and shattered bones and reconstructions. Years ago, yes. Healed, generally speaking, yes. But bad. Enough that everyone’d thought Finn might die, or lose the legs, especially the left. Tabloid rumor had been loud and exaggerated, but not by as much as usual.
“Anyway, I’ve got you.” Finn ran a hand through his hair, grinned, lit up the whole bookshop. He’d always had that quality, even as a teenage star: the ability to smile, to charm, to look at someone and give them his whole honest attention and make them feel like the center of the universe, for that moment. “You’re fantastic support.”
He meant it, too. That was the other reason everybody’d always fallen in love with Finn Ransom, on screen and off. All that interest in people and their lives and their hobbies, all the curiosity and all the kindness. Unfeigned, never fake. All real.
He’d bought six of Wes’s grad student fundraiser shirts and hoodies, and three mugs, and a pen. Plus an impressive anonymous donation that hadn’t stayed anonymous because he’d come in, in person, to say hi and pick everything up and get drawn into a conversation with two PhD candidates about sexualities and genders in the pre-modern Mediterranean world, before Wes had emerged from the student-infested depths of his office hours.
“I’ll try.” Wes glared at the rain. “Kind of thinking about carrying you.”
“Tempting.” Finn batted long eyelashes at him. “Romantic. Dramatic.”
That was impractical and they both knew it. They were essentially the same height -- Wes was decently tall, and Finn was short by Hollywood standards -- and they were both grown men, even if Finn did dress like a Southern California surf instructor on an extra-casual day off. Wes, who preferred to resemble an adult and competent person who owned a tie and got called Doctor Wesley Kim, occasionally regarded his other half with despair. Or, secretly, with a tiny stab of resigned happiness: Finn was Finn, and his.
And wearing an inadequate hoodie, not designed for unseasonal cloudbursts. And an old pair of battered sneakers, instead of any more practical footwear. Wes ended up glowering at a frayed shoelace.
“Stop that,” Finn said. “I like my shoes. I’ve had this pair for years.”
“I know you have.”
“They haven’t done anything to you. You’re hurting their feelings. Their ... hearts and soles.”
“I’m not even going to answer that.” Which of course was an answer, and it made Finn grin at him more. “You have a stylist. You pay him actual money for actual wardrobe assistance.”
“That’s for events, when they make me --”
“Look, I can go get the car and bring it around --”
The young man behind the bookshop’s old-fashioned cluttered counter said, “I could call you a ride?” He had blue-streaked hair and a helpful smile; Wes was pretty sure he’d just started the job, or at least the hair should’ve been memorable. “I’m happy to.”
“We’ve got a car,” Wes told him. “Thanks, though.”
Two of the children ran back in, shouting excitedly. Chasing each other. Looking for something, some sort of game. Finn stepped out of their way. “It’ll be fine, Wes. It’s not like I don’t ever go out in the rain. We’ll just get wet, and we’ll take it slow, and I’ll hold on to you.”
He didn’t sound annoyed, because Finn didn’t often get annoyed: part of the whole not taking life for granted, enthusiastic embrace of the world, joyous recovery. He did sound like someone being very patient with Wes’s fretting, though.
Wes sighed again. Gave in. “If you’re sure.”
“We’re fine,” Finn said again, with a very tiny edge to the words, and opened the bookshop door. The bells on the doorknob jingled sharply. The rain billowed, louder now.
Wes stood frozen for a second. That’d been a surprise. “Sorry, I didn’t mean --”
Finn stopped on the first step. Rain lashed his cheekbone. “No, I know, it’s not --”
The miniature hurricane of children barreled back. Excited. Shouting. Catching up with the others.
One splinter of the hurricane, not looking, collided with Finn’s leg. Hard.
The steps were flooded. And the rain was vicious.
Wes saw it happen, couldn’t stop it, tried to fling out a hand --
Watched Finn hit the ground, hard and shocked, eyes wide. Water splashed, another blow.
The impact made a sound, though Finn didn’t: too sudden for that, too breathless. Both sound and silence shattered the universe.