Kili flinched every time a firework went off. He had the TV on loudly as well as the radio on his phone going. Dwalin and Dis had watched him worriedly but had gone to pick up dinner. Fili was outside, driven out by Kili’s need to drown out the sound of explosions.
He used to love fireworks. Sky flowers. He still did. He wanted to enjoy them. He could see them on TV and be fine about it, but hearing them go off? At first he had thought it was a loud gun but then there was the hiss and spatter of the firework igniting and he had dove for cover.
Dis had dropped her glass in shock.
Kili sat in a corner, hands over his ears, eyes screwed shut. He could still hear the fireworks. The explosions. He kept thinking he was one place when he wasn’t. It was like he couldn’t scrub the sand out from under his skin, no matter what he did. Sometimes he tried, standing in the shower for long minutes, scrubbing fiercely at his skin. It never worked, even if Kili needed it to.
A cold glass was pressed against his forehead and Kili jerked back. He looked up to see Fili squatting down in front of him, a glass of water on offer.
Kili took it, his hands shaking, and took a sip. Then he took a gulp. Then he drained it.
Fili took the glass and stood to refill it. He shut the TV off, leaving Kili’s phone playing Metallica, and returned. This time he sat with Kili, a hand on his knee. Kili sipped his water, trying to keep his breathing even, and watched Fili watch him.
“Do you remember the last 4th?” Fili asked. “We went to Castle Island with Kina. She loved the fort and the Constitution’s cannons going off.“
Kili remembered. That had been a good day. They’d ended up meeting up with a bunch of others on the Esplanade later, listening to music and watching the fireworks over the Charles. Kina had been thrilled, playing with other kids, everyone chatting with strangers and being decent human beings. It had been nice. The two of them had ended up caught kissing on camera, which had then been shown nationally, which had ended up with Kili’s phone exploding in catcalls.
“I remember,” Kili said, voice hoarse.
There was a series of loud BOOMS that sent Kili crashing back the few inches into the wall. His back hurt from all the tension. He shoulders too. He wanted to run, to hide, to have a gun or a knife or something in his hands to defend himself.
“Please don’t hate me for this,” Fili said.
Kili looked at him, bewildered, and almost meeped as Fili leaned in, taking his face in his hands, and kissed him. It was awkward but as Kili heard the whine and screech of air being displaced by heat he surged forward. Fili held him, kissing him, letting Kili crawl into his lap and cling to him. They kissed, ignoring the salt from Kili’s tears and the way his hands clenched too tightly in Fili’s shirt, distracting from everything else around them.
“We’re home!” Dis called out, door banging open. “Sorry it took so long, we grabbed a case of beer while we were out."
Kili broke the kiss, head falling down to thunk against Fili’s shoulder, trying to even his breath out. The blond held him, hand rubbing up and down his spine slowly, saying nothing.
“Interrupting?” Dwalin asked, standing in the doorway with an arched eyebrow.
“Distraction,” Fili said. “It was kind of working?"
“C’mon, let’s eat,” Dwalin said. He had this look on his face, this knowing smile, like he knew something that they didn’t. Kili didn’t like it. “Figure we can break out some card games after. Cards Against Humanity or we wanna see who bluffs best in Bullshit?"
Kili tumbled inelegantly out of Fili’s lap and got to his feet. When he got to the kitchen he was pulled into another hug, this one from Dis. She patted his scruffy cheek and smiled.
“My poor boy,” she said softly. He flinched at another firework and let his mom boss him around. She put him to work, getting the table set and the food out, and then all three of them put their collective minds to keep Kili from thinking. If Kili jerked suddenly or looked skittish Fili would take his hand and squeeze. Kili couldn’t bring himself to get angry or reject him, not now, not when he needed what Fili was offering.
Maybe he could let the other in a little. Just a little, mind, just to test the waters. Maybe. Maybe…