Ulysses laughed and looked down, putting his forehead against Nathan’s. He could feel himself blushing, warmth in his cheeks that he couldn’t ascribe to the comfortable temperature of his flat or even the wine they’d had. His fingers moved against the back of Nathan’s shirt, having an odd clarity of sensation, like he could feel the press of the weave against his fingertips as though he was pressing his finger to a screen instead of fabric.
"If I hadn’t had the courage to ask you by now, I probably would just have pretended to fall asleep on you on the sofa." His voice was quiet, teasing but somehow incredibly honest at the same time. "I know you’re too polite to shove me off when you wanted to leave. See how sneaky I am in love?"
Nathan breathed a laugh, lowering his eyes as he felt the tips of his ears reddening. The word love caught again, and the movement of Ulysses’ fingers made his spine tingle right up to the back of his neck. He wondered how long he could get away with staying this close to him - he’d never wanted to be this close to someone before. Handshakes had been the limit of intimate physical contact for years; even with Noah, they’d never really stayed close. They’d lain side by side in bed and sat facing each other on opposite ends of the sofa. They’d never stayed close, and Nathan had never really wanted to stay close. He was always the one to move out of the way on narrow pavements, he always had been, but with Ulysses he wanted to learn how the curves of his body might fit against his. He settled for wrapping his arms loosely around his neck and leaning just that tiny bit closer to kiss his forehead.
"I’m glad you did ask m-me," he said, still smiling. "It would have been a dead uncomfortable night sleeping upright on the sofa - no matter how comfortable your sofa is."
There was so much he should have been doing back at the shop, however reluctantly his return there would have been. All his usual routine of double-checking order forms and account books, making sure everything was in its place for the next morning, entertaining Mrs Saunders’ waffling when she popped down to say goodnight, locking up, retiring to the basement for however long it took to feel satisfied he’d done enough repair work. It felt strange to think that none of it would be done - and how little would it matter that none of it would be done when he got back in the morning?
"I ought to give Mrs Saunders a ring. Let her know I-I won’t be back ‘til m-morning, and ask her to lock up," he said, drawing ever so slightly away from Ulysses.