“The bees came to find you,” Dance says.
Drin glances at the tree. “They swarmed?”
“I called your beekeeping friends, as you say to do.”
“Oh, that explains it,” Drin says.
Dance tilts his head up in a precise jerk just like the little bright praying mantis they had been watching. The garden is full of insect life attracted to Dance’s plantings.
“How Fozzie knew my phone number.”
Dance says, cautiously, “Who is Fozzie?”
“A big old bear. Knows everybody, all the beekeeping guys. Possibly the biggest bear you’ll ever meet.”
“Am I meeting Fozzie?”
“Yeah, as soon as I can arrange it.” Drin says. “He’s really out of this world.”
“It’s an expression of admiration. You and Em are out of this world.” Drin cups the deeply muscled shoulder, rubbing a smutch of dark clay away from the smooth skin.
“Then, you are out of this world as well.” Dance starts picking up his tools. There won’t be any more work done in the garden tonight.
“When is Em supposed to be home?”
“Late, maybe nine or so,” Dance says. Then he smiles. “Are you hungry? You look tired, my Drin.”
“I am,” Drin says. Dance still looks too much like a praying mantis, and not enough like Drin’s lover, beautifully warm and sweaty and wearing nothing but stained baggy shorts in his garden. The white smile has too many teeth in it, and they are someplace dark, against a backdrop of flight harness cords and glittering expanses of… something. The brown face twitches, triangulating in tiny gestures on distant targets, a distance which doesn’t seem to stop him doing… whatever is causing the shock waves that rock them both. Somebody farther away laughs in triumph in the dark, to music. “Do you feel lucky? I feel lucky! No tropical depression gonna steal my sun away, I feel lucky!” Voices sing verses along with Mary Chapin Carpenter. Not all of her words match the version he knows from the radio now. “Still think you’d rather fuck a laser cannon, boys?”
Drin shakes off the weird alienated crawling sensation, leans in, and kisses Dance on the cheek. “Food is a great idea too. Want to jump in the shower and then cook something?”
Dance gives him a searching look, before he nods and carries his tools over to the faucet. Drin bends down by the hose, helps him wash them off and put them away. “No, no, you must get all the clay off the metal parts, Drin,” Dance chides him, gently. “On this I am inflexible.”
“Bite me!” Drin says, laughing; the tools are spotless.
“If you want,” Dance responds, not even blinking.
Drin holds up one wet, washed wrist, offering him the childish dare.
Dance moves forward and mouths Drin’s forearm, proving his bite is even bigger than Drin realized. “Yeth? More?” Dance says with his mouth full. His teeth prickle gently at the skin, something catches, snags when Drin pulls away. They both look down at the two cuts on Drin’s forearm, barely big enough to bleed. Dance clutches Drin’s arm, staring at the tiny drops of blood there. Then his hand drags up the hose, splattering Drin’s shirt and drowning the cuts in water, as if diluting it might help.
“Yeah,” Drin says, and something hard and lumpy and heavy settles with a bump in his unsettled stomach. Instead of lurching about in space, weightless, it has become a solid, unexpected burden. The cuts could have been made by slivers of glass. Out of this world.
Dance’s eyes are wide open, pale with alarm. For a wordless moment Drin stares into that panic. He cups Dance’s chin, strokes his lover’s jawline. Dance swallows, under that touch, and closes his eyes, and starts to turn his head away. Instead, Drin folds him up in the grip of both arms, and holds him close.
“It’s all right, sweetheart,” he says into Dance’s tumbled, sweaty hair. “It’s going to be all right. Whatever it is, hey, we’ll figure out how to handle it. I’ll get help. Em will get us help. Whatever we need. Don’t worry.”
Dance’s shoulders bunch tight under the touch, incredibly knotted, and then he lowers his head into Drin’s collarbone, and the shoulders suddenly relax limp, and his weight leans into Drin’s chest. “We are so… sorry. I can’t… I don’t know anything.” He gives a breath of laughter. “You see how it is?”
“Damn silly of me,” Drin agrees, and kisses him on the top of the head.
Dance gives a big bone-deep sigh, and leans into him. The hose runs unnoticed over Dance’s bare feet, soaks Drin’s socks.
“Tired, too, right?” Drin says. “Haven’t been sleeping well?”
Dance nods into his chest.
“Me either. Needed my Dance. I kept waking up, reaching over.”
“Yeah. You too, huh?” Drin feels his ribs bump Dance with an almost silent chuckle. “The worst. And meeting Fozzie didn’t help that a bit. He… helped me remember stuff.”
Dance pushes closer yet into Drin’s body. He’s shivering.
“Okay, time for a shower. That’ll help. And then food. Some of that good Dance cooking to bring me home.”
“Sweet talker,” Dance murmurs, and if he’s laughing a little, it sounds like it’s so he won’t cry instead.
Drin kisses Dance’s head again, and sighs into the heaps of black hair. He pushes that other darkness away from the edges of his mind, and takes a deep breath.
“Come on now,” he says. “What can I help you chop?”
He follows Dance into the house, leaving a burning battlefield somewhere behind him.