Link stopped on the concrete walkway and simply stared at the house in front of him. No, not the house. His house. He tightened his grip around the key; let the metal press painfully into his palm. Maybe it would leave a mark, and he could remember this feeling – this elation, this sense of finally accomplishing something. Something he'd been told he'd never do.
"Hey." Haddon bumped up against him, shoulder to shoulder. "You okay?"
"Yeah." Link nodded and took the box his lover hefted toward him. "What the hell is in this one?"
"What do you think? What's been in the last dozen?" Haddon shrugged and laughed as he turned and headed back to the moving truck.
"Books." Link sighed and let the tug of a grin curve his lips. "My books," he whispered, "that I'm taking up my front walk, and putting on my bookshelf, in my house." He toed open the door and stood on the threshold, frowning at the sea of boxes in the tiny living room. "My books, that I'm putting on my living room floor."
As much as he knew they had to get back to work – they only had the truck for another hour – he couldn't resist the urge to walk through the place again, even though he knew he'd be walking through it for years to come. He strolled into the dining room… okay, he stepped into the dining room. The place wasn't that big, after all – only a little over nine hundred square feet. Most of his friends had said he and Haddon were nuts to buy such a small place, but how much room did two guys in love really need?
He surveyed the dining room. They'd found an old retro Formica table and four powder blue chairs at a thrift store the week before and brought them over while they'd worked to make the hundred year old house livable. The table had since become command central, littered with receipts, notes, screwdriver bits, pens, soda bottles, and more rolls of packing tape than any two people should legally own. He tapped his foot on the dark hardwood floor – what a surprise it had been to find that lurking under inch thick shag carpeting.
He passed through the door into the postage stamp of a kitchen. First order of business would be to head off to the local appliance store and see about a smaller stove and fridge. Ones that didn't take up half the space and dwarf the room. He ran his hand over the cabinets absently. His friends Danny and John were really creative when it came to decorating – they'd have to have them over to take a look at the place and see what they could collectively come up with together. Maybe a Bitchin’ Kitchen theme. He grinned as he imagined the place bedazzled in sparkly skulls and disembodied baby doll heads.
The sounds of Haddon grunting under the effort of more boxes floated into him, but Link ignored it. Haddon loved this kind of physical work, the man was right in his element, and Link could afford these few minutes to himself. He turned left, took two steps, and turned right, leaned in the doorway of the bathroom. The blue bathroom. Blue tub, blue sink, blue toilet. He shook his head. And those gold stars on the wallpaper? Good grief. Haddon had fallen in love with the blue, but those stars simply had to go.
Link turned and walked another couple steps and peered into the bedroom. And what a massive bedroom. The largest room in the house, neither of them had ever had so much space. They'd have the bed delivered this week, put it right there in the middle of the room, where they could lay together and look out the window at the backyard. They'd get bird feeders and a birdbath, maybe leave some binoculars on the bedside table, and maybe a digital camera. Shit! He slapped his palm on his thigh. He'd forgotten to ask Danny which one he should get. He'd have to make a note of that.
He turned around and headed down the hall, intended to go grab a piece of paper off the dining room table – God, he loved saying dining room – and instead found himself stopped in his tracks, breathless and dumbfounded. Haddon stood at the other end of the hall, naked from the waist up, wiping the sweat dripping off his forehead with his balled up shirt. Link moved without thought, grabbed his lover's wrist and pulled Haddon behind him.
"Damn," Haddon muttered. He kicked the door closed and followed without another word.
Link dragged them both to the bedroom.
Haddon tugged on his hand. "You wanna wait until we have a bed?" He trailed his fingers up and down Link's right arm. "You know, somewhere soft?"
Link bit his lower lip. A bed and soft sounded good. But something primal, a need to claim this place, his place and his man, as his own thrummed through him. If he didn't, someone might come and take this all away from him. Show up at his door tomorrow morning and say there'd been some mix up, and he had to leave. Go back to that filthy, run-down apartment with the uncleanable stains of God only knew what on the bathroom wall, and the sometimes running, sometimes not running hot water, and the broken windows that let in the cold and the rain and the bugs, and the disgusting, sticky carpet in the kitchen, and the roaches they could never seem to get rid of. He squeezed his eyes shut and sagged back against the wall.
"Hey." Haddon moved close, rubbed hips against Link's and pulled Link into a tight embrace.
Link held on for dear life, afraid the tide of emotions churning inside him would crash over him and drag him under. He fought not to let the tears slip, fought the choking sob lodged in his throat.
Haddon moved a hand up to caress Link's back. "Nobody's gonna take this away from us, baby. I promise you that. This is ours. We scraped and pinched and went without for so long, and this is our reward." He pulled back and captured Link's face in his hands. "You hear me?"
Link nodded. He sighed as Haddon captured his lips in a gentle kiss, Haddon's mouth moving across his, tongue searching out all those warm, wet spaces, grinding against him, pressing him back against the wall, Haddon's fingers gripping the back of his head so tight.
Haddon broke the kiss and took Link's hand. "Help me finish getting this stuff inside, then we'll take the truck back and get dinner."
"Here," Link blurted. "I want to eat dinner here. Not out somewhere. Just…here. We can pick up whatever you want, but lets bring it back. Let’s eat in our house."
Haddon grinned. "There's no place else I'd rather be." He quirked an eyebrow and his grin widened impossibly. “Maybe on the way back from the truck place, we can stop at that camping store on the highway.”
Link frowned. “For what?” He knew which box they’d packed the coffee pot in, and if they were ordering out tonight they wouldn’t need any pans.
Haddon took his hand an pressed a kiss to his ear. “An inflatable bed.”