Rodney hadn’t realized, up until the moment he heard the voice on the radio, that John had never said his name aloud. It was a quiet voice, but when he looked up at the window, Rodney could see the outline of John’s face in the sky, looking down at the city from the balcony. Even when he realized, he could hear John’s heartbeat and that of his own.
Rodney had known, before John, that John was special. That John loved him. He had said it one night, as they lay side by side, John’s head pillowed on Rodney’s shoulder, John’s eyes closed and the words falling from his lips like a prayer, a song, a poem. A song that went unheard as he lay there with John in his arms, a song with him as the song played in Rodney’s head.
It was the song he’d written for John when they first met. The one that started their friendship and eventually went silent, leaving Rodney and John alone, in the middle of a boring desk job, the end of the universe hanging over them. John had smiled at him, and Rodney smiled back, but he knew it wasn’t something that John was going to say. He had thought it a joke, and had left to go home. But then, suddenly, John wasn’t on his knees by his side and staring down at the ground with tears on his face. He wasn’t in a hospital bed, not on the edge of a building, waiting for the elevator to bring him to his floor. And Rodney hadn’t known what to do.
John had never been able to say his name aloud.
When Rodney arrived, he had been in the middle of talking to John about a project that was going to take place. John had waved a hand, saying that he needed some time off. Rodney had nodded and followed him to his room, and told John that he should probably rest. He didn’t know what was wrong with him, but he didn’t stop there.
Now, he was sitting on the bed, legs crossed and looking at John, who was sitting with his back to Rodney. Rodney hadn’t spoken a word since they had arrived. When he looked up, John had turned to look at him, but he didn’t seem upset about the words. He didn’t seem to notice the slight sadness in Rodney’s eyes as he reached out to touch his face.
“I’m sorry, Rodney,” John said, looking at his hand with a slight sadness in his eyes, “I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I’m sorry for everything.”
John’s words sent a shiver down Rodney’s spine. He couldn’t say anything. All he did was look at John, who was staring at the wall in front of them, a look that almost seemed to have lost his tears. And then, he said, “You’re right,” and Rodney felt his face go red, “I guess I’m just tired. It’s been a long day.”
And then they were kissing, and it wasn’t for a long time, but it was enough for Rodney to know that John wasn’t going to lie to him, that the words wouldn’t go unheard. For him, they had been enough, and that was the point. They had never been apart, and it was enough for Rodney to know that they were loved. He never wanted to believe that John didn’t love him back. It was something that had always meant that when John said his name that sometimes it had meant more, but John never had, never could. So they said it together, slowly pulling away from each other, and then John looked Rodney in the eye, and then he was kissing him once again.
Rodney’s brain still wouldn’t work right after that kiss, but he had to get a word in. He couldn’t even bring himself to ask John to repeat his name again, because they were kissing and they were all that mattered, because John wasn’t talking and Rodney was kissing and there was this warm, content feeling settling in his stomach that he hadn’t realized he had had before.
And then John pulled away, looking down at their hands, “I love you,” he said and Rodney could only stare at him, eyes open and looking at John in the eyes, which didn’t look sad or unhappy or worried. It was just them, like always. He twined his fingers with John’s, squeezed, and together they walked back to their quarters, their home.