“Goodnight,” Oswald says, his voice sleepy and small, gentle like it only is when he’s speaking to Ed alone in their room. He’s in a t-shirt and light pajama pants, what he wears when it’s just cold enough that their comforter and Ed’s arms around him aren’t quite enough to stave off the autumn chill. He hears Ed say it back distantly, like he’s in another world, and as Oswald drifts off into sleep, he thinks that he may as well be, because he’s so tired that nothing quite feels real anymore. Perhaps watching movies until one a.m. wasn’t as good an idea as it originally seemed to be, but after a long day, some cuddling with popcorn in between them and their hands intertwined sounded like heaven.
It’s difficult to get to sleep, and as he is lingering between that state of heavy-eyed longing and blissful sleeping, Ed’s mind is going a mile a minute. When they first got together, it was through a kiss, not through words. He doesn’t know if Oswald is ready for “I love you” yet. It hasn’t been long since that first kiss they shared, after all. But Ed feels like he will always be the kind of person to love quickly. He had loved Kristen before they were ever together, and he had loved Isabella after hours. And now he loves Oswald wholeheartedly, perhaps unconditionally, after a week of dating. Is this too soon?
The heart keeps its own time, he had told Oswald, concerning Isabella.
No, it isn’t too soon.
He can tell when Oswald falls asleep because his breaths become heavier. He knows how rough a day it had been for him, and perhaps he should let him sleep, but this can’t wait. Ed really isn’t the kind of person to wait for these kinds of things, and he certainly can’t let himself get cowardly in the morning and not say it. No, now is the right time. Now is the only time.
“Os, wake up,” he whispers into his ear. He pulls his arm out from around him to prop himself up and looks down at the dark-haired man with the eyes whose beauty swallows Ed whole.
Oswald’s disgruntled groan is answer enough to what he thinks about the timing of this, but he hasn’t yet heard what Ed has to say. “What?” he asks, less kindly than he had said Goodnight less than fifteen minutes ago.
“Can I tell you a riddle?” His voice is excited now, and Oswald is confused by it. Whatever he is excited about, Os is sure that he can wait until morning. It better be one hell of an important riddle.
“Yes, sure, whatever, but please do it quickly. I’m exhausted,” he says. Perhaps that’s over-exaggerated. Perhaps it’s not. Either way, he wants to go to sleep, and he had been enjoying having Ed’s arms around him, keeping him warm.
Ed’s heart is pounding so hard, and he remembers how this is how every moment almost felt with Kristen. With Isabella, it had come too simply, maybe, and with Kristen too difficult. But with Oswald, it feels right, if a bit scary.
“Okay. I can’t be bought, but I can be stolen with one glance,” he tells him, reciting the familiar riddle. “I’m worthless to one but priceless to two. What am I?”
It only takes a moment for Os to answer, “Love. You already told me this one.” He doesn’t have time for this. He begins to get comfortable again, waiting for Ed’s arm to go back around him. He would say goodnight again in a moment, when Ed lays back down, and they could face the next day tired as hell because he wouldn’t let them get to sleep.
Ed doesn’t stop him from getting comfortable again, and he does put an arm back around him. But he leans close again and tells him in his softest voice, “But this time it’s because I love you.”
It doesn’t process for a moment. But when it does, Oswald’s heart leaps. He swears it’s gone past the sun, past the stars, into the nothingness of the universe, and then has fallen right back and brought with it a supernova. He’s feeling that star exploding in his stomach, but it’s a good feeling, a warming feeling. A beginning.
There is nothing more to say than, “I love you, too, Ed,” and nothing more to feel but that same love, and the relief that the man behind him can’t see the goofy grin taking up his entire face.
It’s a while before either of them get to sleep, even though neither of them say another word. And in the morning, when their eyes are heavy, they don’t wonder if any of it was worth it. It was.