Race can hear the sand shifting as David’s footsteps draw closer. He doesn’t turn his head to look. It’s an eight minute walk from their apartment; Race isn’t quite sure how David found him, but he doesn’t have the willpower to form an opinion on that right now.
David’s Converse peek out into the corner of Race’s vision. Race only leans forward and sighs, which seems to be invitation enough for David to sit beside him.
It’s been a long day of trying and failing and trying again and Race would love nothing more than to watch the water and forget about it all. But now David’s here, and David is a constant reminder of what he isn’t supposed to feel.
It’s not that Race wants him to go. It’s that…
Well, he’s not sure what it is. He’s not sure he wants to know.
(The truth is, though, that he came here to escape those unwelcome thoughts. It hasn’t worked yet, so he supposes there’s no difference.)
“You left footprints,” David says. It’s enough for Race to break out of his reverie and face his friend.
They’re making eye contact, now, which is something Race has trouble handling and even more trouble breaking. David’s head is tilted to the side, his curls tousled and highlighted in the warm light.
Race lets out a sigh and turns away before he can say something he’ll regret, which has always been one of his strong suits. He drags his fingers back and forth next to him, leaving trails in the sand.
His toes curl in his shoes as David reaches out a hand to cover his, stilling the motion. “I know you don’t want to hear this,” he says, which is not a good start to any conversation, “but are you doing okay?”
The sun is nearly down. David’s expression has softened. Race can see constellations in his eyes, and the sight is dizzying.
“I’m going fucking insane, Dave.” His voice is raw and quiet and he knows he’s letting on more than he should. He’s forgotten to care.
The thing is, though, that David will do anything to protect Race. If he’s already noticed that something is wrong, if he’s followed him here to ask about it - if he finds out he’s the cause…
David flinches. “Race?”
If he finds out, he’ll stop at nothing to fix it. And Race can only guess that that means distance.
So Race can’t say anything, because that undertone behind his words can’t be erased. Instead, he closes the gap between them and rests his head on David’s chest. Physical proximity is a little more manageable after living in the same apartment for eight months.
David shifts to pull him in closer, disentangling their hands to place his at the back of Race’s neck. Race sighs into his shirt, defeated.
“I think,” David says, and his voice is quiet but Race can hear his breath hitch anyway, “I think I might be in love with you.”
The sky is long past dark, but the sand is still hot beneath him. Race can feel his whole body tense up.
He makes it sound so simple.
David says it like it’s obvious, but to Race it seems so earth-shattering, so groundbreaking, that he can barely breathe. Like whatever’s beneath the beach is going to crack open and leave them hanging on a ledge.
He’s glad he’s not standing up, because the words are enough to make his knees buckle.
He’s falling apart, the atmosphere is crashing down around him, but - the pressure comes in on all sides and it holds him together stronger, somehow. Between all the pushing and the pulling and the falling -
He almost feels whole again.
It comes to Race’s realization that he hasn’t moved, and before he can properly decide how to approach this he’s gripping David’s shirt tighter. The problem is -
The problem is -
There isn’t a problem, is there?
There’s a moment of clarity wherein the weight in Race’s chest is taken out, only to hit him again in the heart. He’s trembling. He wouldn’t be able to tell without David holding him, because he feels so solid despite just knowingly cutting off Race’s air supply.
David pushes him back, steadying him with one hand on his shoulder. Race’s eyes are squeezed shut.
“Race, I’m sorry, I - ” David lets out a quiet little laugh, like he always does. “You gotta breathe, Racer.”
He obliges, or attempts to. “Dave. You can’t just - you’re serious?” Race dares to blink his eyes open, even though he can barely see David’s face in the low light.
“I always am.” He smiles and his eyes crinkle up at the corners. God, those eyes will be the death of him. “And you? Do you…?”
Race collapses, just a little. He’s suddenly hyper aware of how close they are, and how David’s hand is still resting on his shoulder. He lets his gaze flutter upwards.
“God, Daves, of course I do. Of course I do.”
He digs his shoes deeper into the sand, as if it can anchor him there. David reaches out a hand to cup his cheek, wiping something away from under his eye. For a moment Race thinks he’s going to kiss him, but one or both of them has been crying and that doesn’t seem like a pleasant experience, so David drops a kiss at the top of his head instead. The gesture is so achingly sweet that Race is sure he’ll combust.
They settle into another embrace, and David is whispering all these promises in his ear, and Race can barely think apart from oh, he loves this boy.
They stay just as they are until Race laughs at David for coming without a jacket. The footprints back have been tracked over by other people’s adventures, other people’s stories, and so they make their own marks over again.
This - this level of euphoria - isn’t something Race had prepared for, and it isn’t something Race can make himself believe will be consistent. But he looks at David in the moonlight and he thinks that he’ll do anything to preserve a little of it in this memory.