before he can tell him not to, luna is scooping a finger into the pancake batter. alexander tries not to be annoyed with the gesture; after all, he's the one who decided cooking at three in the morning was ideal, and luna was the one who had to put up witih it. still, it's irrational; he hates it when people interrupt his cooking.

luna absolutely knows it, too, with the shit eating grin on his face he gives alexander, sticking his finger in his mouth only seconds later. he asks something in spanish that is much too muffled for him to discern, resolutely stirring the batter until luna repeats himself, minus his finger, "i don't think this is the best way to cope with worries, but it is delicious.."

he can feel luna's eyes on him as he reaches for the cinnamon, nose wrinkling, not sure exactly how to broach the subject. talking about their parents, on either side, was always uncomfortable, nerve wracking... and since they had been outed publicly before they even had a chance to marry was always going to be an irritant.

the complication of a sick parent, was another. luna's family wasn't like his, with money at their disposal, with a network of other wealthy people at beck and call should something happen. the phone call had come in days ago, that luna's father, mr. ibarra, was having a dip in his health. it had coincided with the final signing for the house he and luna wanted.

he wasn't stupid. for all of his own parent's manipulative moves, for all of their own stunts, all alexander could think was that this wasn't a coincidence. as much as luna had tried to tell him it was fine, that a simple talk to them about the move, about his father's health would ease things over or at the very least make things clear... it wasn't working. "we shouldn't have to talk to them," alexander feels tired saying the words, dumping a little more cinnamon than was necessary into the batter. he uses a spoon to scrape up some of the cinnamon and batter, offering it to luna instead of flicking it into the sink. luna takes it, allowing alexander to continue. "you've been living here with me for years already. having to tell them, after we have been married for years now, that it is permanent seems--"

he falters for words. luna waits for him to gather himself, leaning against the counter as alexander stirs. the feelings boil in alexander's chest, the discontent, the annoyance, the anger-- and beneath it, some fear. fear that if this talk happened, luna might give in and leave not just san francisco, but their marriage. that one day, the guilt trip might actually work, that the pressure might finally get to him once and for all.

"they're insecure," luna supplies, voice gentle on alexander's nerves as the seconds trickle forward. "i am their oldest son--"

"not their only son--"

"--and they still think that i'm going to change," luna shifts, arm knocking against alexander's, just a simple brush of skin. the light from the fixture hits his hair just so, illuminating the silvery hairs brighter than before. "i won't. i love you, i like san francisco, and going back home was never in the cards." his arm shifts, moving to intertwine with alexander's in a casual movement, bringing them closer, trying to effectively ground alexander in the moment and not in his head. "i have other, more responsible siblings who can care for my parents if something truly happens."

alexander sets his jaw, and tries to believe him.

FEELING HELPLESS I LOOK FOR DISTRACTION I GO SEARCHING FOR YOU

"you don't need me to help you with this course," luna's voice is steady, calm and has that flint of tone that alexander was starting to recognize as an opening silo to an argument. "you haven't opened up that book the entire time you've been here with me."

caught, alexander isn't quite sure how he should respond to this. he keeps looking at luna's hands, poised in front of him perfectly clasped together, not touching the food alexander had ordered a few minutes ago. he feels as if he's been chastised by this man he's looked up to for months, who he followed onto this campus to know better--even if he would never admit such a thing outloud for fear of what it could mean, to admit to that. he swallows, looks up and tries to say something that doesn't feel foolish (luna makes him feel deeply foolish, sometimes)...

and comes up empty. his mouth closes, jaw clenching with the inability to voice what he wanted to say.

luna is patient, saintly almost, with his silence as it stretches onward.

it takes a few more moments of silence until alexander can finally voice, "no. i don't," he looks up fully, still struggling with what precisely he's feeling, sitting here in luna's kitchen, fingers nervously reaching out to start unpacking the chinese food before him. "you're smarter than-- i..." he feels as if there's something just beyond his grasp for what he wants to say, needs to say. he wants to get there, to stop feeling thrust under a spotlight like this.

luna's fingers touch his own on the bag. alexander freezes at the sudden touch. there are a thousand reasons as to why luna would have reached out to deliberately touch him with the first five being the ones that make him uncomfortable, as none of those ideas are something that he thinks luna shares.

and yet, he can't make himself pull away.

Till we're lost in the heat of the moment

whenever alexander mentions the boarding schools he's gone to, there is always an assumption that such places helped to engender a community of brotherhood, understanding and safety. anyone who has actually gone to such schools knows that such an idea is laughable.

for many people, they eventually made it out with friends, connections, rivalries that mattered in the real world, could always be circled back to, and in a manner, could make something of it.

most boys were not alexander, who routinely found himself sneaking off to other places on the grounds to eat his food alone, who kept to himself whenever he could manage, who's one friend lived elsewhere, and who preferred the company of his nanny to his parents' voices over the line interrogating him on grades.

it was all this to say that to have any semblance of kindness or friendship was sparse and lacking. most contact with other boys in the emotional and physical sense, for him were ones laden with tones of annoyance or purely punitive in nature. his roommate bodychecking him roughly in the hallways, the sports he hardly participated in left him bruised, and the visible irritation others had whenever those necessary social engagements happened and alexander, somehow, failed to miss a social cue, or did not understand the joke being said.

to be suddenly touched by luna ibarra, in his kitchen, in a way that does not feel punitive or laced with irritation is strange. stranger still is that there is a yearning alexander finds in those moments before he bolts from the apartment. a yearning to have that touch spread, to have it linger in a longer way than the few moments he was permitted there, to have a true sense of... of something he has no name for.

So draw me close

two days pass between the hasty retreat. luna texts him, emails him. alexander ignores it, tries to actually pay attention to the course laid out for him. he feels however, his mind starting to wander every few pages. he thinks about what he's left there, about the warmth of luna's hands on his in that moment, on how much he had wanted from it. the words, the emotions are still there, at the very edge of his mind, sitting there, wanting to be understood.

worse, really, is that he misses luna. it isn't the same thing as missing other friends, as missing his parents or missing anything else. it is deeper than that, sticks in the craw of his mind in a way that he can't dismiss the same or push down like anything else.

so when, on day three, luna sends him another text, asking him to meet him for lunch, alexander says yes.

when luna asks him if they are still friends, alexander says yes.

and when luna asks him if he wants to leave for awhile, to make up for time, alexander says yes.