"How much longer do I have to wait?" he murmured against warm skin, the delicate hum carrying every bit of love he had for the redhead sleeping peacefully beside him. Copper lashes fluttered, a low keen emerging from between the pearl-pink lips being teased by a sleepy tongue. Kyle was splashed with sunlight streaming in through the windows, hair dappled shades of alternating red and gold.

"Mmph..." Kyle suddenly shot up from the bed in a wild tangle of lanky limbs. He smeared a hand across his face and mumbled incoherently, " 'm drooled..."

Kenny watched his boyfriend gracelessly wipe the trail of spit off the side of his mouth and announced, "You are a goddamn beauty queen, Kyle Broflovski."

"Ffff'k you," he garbled, flopping back down to burrow into his disarranged nest of blankets. "I'm a handsome... manly...." A yawn interrupted his speech and he gave up on any continuation as Kenny imitated a caterpillar munching on the edge of a leaf - the leaf being Kyle's ear. Flapping his hands ineffectively at the blonde, Kyle eventually gave up and surrendered himself to Kenny's ministrations. He hummed appreciatively as Kenny kissed down his front, swirling his tongue around his navel before his crown of blond hair disappeared beneath the covers.

"Stan thinks it's weird that you haven't said it to me yet," he mentioned while they were in line as the Chinese grocery outlet. "And you know my opinion."

Kyle gave him one of the staple looks, no words necessary. It was easy to convey his exasperation; face partially obscured by a stack of miscellaneous foodstuffs whose nutrition labels were characters instead of letters. They still weren't sure what was in everything, but it all tasted good.

"You know my rule," grumbled Kyle, moving ahead in line. They towered over the tiny grandmothers pushing around shopping carts, chattering in musical Cantonese. "Four months."

"But we've known each other for all our lives! Shouldn't you know by now if you lo-" Kyle whipped around and slapped a hand over Kenny's moth, silencing him. All around them chatter filled in the gap, their activity well above the line of sight for the rest of the store's clientele.

Narrowing green eyes that shown like glass in the artificial light, Kyle hissed, "When I'm ready, Kenny!"

Behind them one of the elderly ladies leaned over to her friend, "Look, meimei, it's those special boys again. The ones who think we don't know they are modern boys."

"They're tongzhi? Oh! They make such a good couple." They giggled and clucked at each other, the two boys in front of them oblivious to their gossip.

"Interesting," Kenny snapped waspishly, "When you let me fuck you after a week." He paled, realizing he'd just crossed into the red zone. Kyle was gaping at him, aghast.

Slamming his basket of food down on the counter, Kyle venomously hissed, "You... shit."

"I'm sorry!" Kenny wailed, watching helplessly as Kyle stormed out of the Asian market. He got several disapproving looks from the little old ladies now huddled around him like judgmental penguins. One waddled up to him and thwacked him over the head with a long stalk of ginger root. "OW!"

"Treat your boyfriend better!" she chided him, swinging her ginger root menacingly.

Fleeing for his life from the disapproving looks and vegetable-turned-weapons wielded by the surprisingly agile group of old ladies, Kenny tried to find Kyle. Chinatown was buzzing with shoppers and the air was thick with the smell of barbeque and grease. Hanging off the curb, Kenny climb partway up a streetlamp with its base the head of a dragon and the pole its tongue. Peering around, he watched for a flash of red hair in the sea of black and brunette, hoping that Kyle didn't just go home.

There! Kyle was looking into the window of Pink Gorilla, the local game shop. Kenny launched off the streetlight and galloped across the street, weaving in and out of the crowd. Rising up everywhere were giant pillars of bight red and yellow, crowned with grand archways. Dragons, Phoenixes, and lotus flowers poured down the sides in vibrant color. Kyle's hair blended with the flamboyant environment, his pale face and jade eyes drawing attention from passersby. Kenny stopped right behind him, just looking for a second. The other boy was slouching, his slender hips canted to the side as he studied the poster for the latest Resident Evil game, the garish pink decorations of the storefront clashing comically with the dark graphics.

"I'll buy it for you," Kenny mentioned, sliding up alongside him. "Not that I'm trying to buy your forgiveness," he added quickly when Kyle scowled.

"I'm not going to be forced into saying something that I'm not ready to say to anyone right now, Kenny," he said, turning back to the display. "This is why so many relationships gets fucked up. People rush in. They say it the first fucking day. And even if they feel it, waiting is best. Then there's no doubt it's real."

Bowing his head, Kenny nodded. "I know." He'd told Kyle he loved him before he even asked him out. That had been his precursor, catching Kyle by complete surprise as they were going up the roller coaster at the amusement park. At first the redhead's answer had been lost in the collective scream of the group when they dropped fifty feet in the coaster car, but by the end of the day Kyle was his boyfriend.

Then he'd told Kenny The Rule.

Kyle wouldn't say "I love you" until their fourth month together. It was something he picked up from a magazine Wendy was reading. Apparently, no matter if you felt 'in love' before four months, the rule was to ensure your feelings were real. Kyle seemed to think that waiting was actually a testament to loyalty and romance. And though Kenny trusted that because he trusted Kyle, it still left him in the awkward position of the one who already said it and hadn't heard it in return.

Kyle smiled and brushed a kiss along his temple. "If you still feel guilty about outing us in front of the Yodas you can buy me the game..."

Rolling his eyes, Kenny glanced around before pushing Kyle into the narrow storage hall next to the main window. Before Kyle could lecture him about manhandling, Kenny kissed him deeply. He swallowed Kyle's moan, pressing him tight against the cold metal door. His heat, coupled with the chill, was exhilarating. Kyle arched against him, writhing under his rough hands like a coiled spring coming undone.

"K-Kenny," he gasped, "We're in public!"

"You just called them Yodas."

"Only the little old ladies!" he protested, spreading his thighs apart for Kenny's hand to touch him through his jeans. "Oh, Kenny... Jesus, we'll get caught-"

"Then why don't you quiet down," he husked, tipping Kyle's head up to bite his throat. "Think of how hot it'll be if I fuck you in public, all those people right beyond this doorway."

"Oh my god," Kyle whimpered, thrusting into Kenny's hand once the other boy had undone his pants. "Stop-" When Kenny abruptly obeyed Kyle flailed, "Nevermind... nevermind, don't stop! Fuck..." Turning his face stubbornly away, he bit his lip hard. Kenny's breath was heavy of the side of his face, a long-fingered hand tangled roughly in his hair. The dull pain from the grip on his scalp heightened the urgent pleasure building in his cock as Kenny fisted him with expert care. Kyle gasped wetly, both hands curling into the fabric of Kenny's sweatshirt. "Please, please," he begged, his thighs clenching as Kenny smirked against his cheek.

"Cum for me, baby," he whispered, biting down along Kyle's jaw.

Burying his face in his boyfriend's chest, Kyle bit off his scream as he came all over Kenny's palm.

Almost two months later Kyle made a decision. In his personal planner he'd marked the date with a tiny heart; too small to see unless you were looking. Worrying his lip with his teeth, Kyle outlined the heart over and over until it filled the entire date square. He felt ridiculous, but his heart was pounding. Four months. It had been four months of waiting, holding back from blurting it in Kenny's face the first time they kissed, screaming it when he orgasms with Kenny deep inside of him, or whispering it first thing in the morning, on the rare occasions he was awake before his boyfriend. Yet waiting had made it special, when it was already such a special thing.

Today he was going to tell his boyfriend that he loved him.

Kenny volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club in a part of town that yuppies avoided like the plague. So maybe he'd witnessed a couple of shootings, been mugged, intervened in several potential sexual assaults, and might know the dealers by name for the all the times he's turned down their products. Regardless, the kids he mentored were good ones, and stronger than their circumstances.

"Well, you could beat him down," he was saying lightly to one of the kids, "But you could also be the bigger man and walk away."

The teenager looked at him blankly. "Feels better to kick his ass," he deadpanned.

"Maybe," Kenny agreed, "But he isn't worth all the shit that follows an action like that, right? You're compromising yourself for someone you don't even like. You're giving him your time, and that's all we have in this world to make something of: time."

"Mister K?" a girl started, waiting until Kenny was looking at her to point at the window. "Some guy is standing in the middle of the street. He look crazy."

Sending a meaningful glance at the boy he'd been counseling, Kenny followed the girl over to the window and peered out.

Kyle was standing in the middle of the street with a huge bouquet of sunflowers. He was dressed in a gorgeous suit, with Kenny's tux draped over his free arm. He was grinning like a maniac and Kenny found himself chuckling, breaking into laughter as all the kids grouped around him. Their curious chattering couldn't distract from the expression on Kyle's face. It was radiant.

It was the boy he'd been counseling that saw the men first. He cursed and grabbed Kenny to point them out. Three of them. All big, all wearing uniform colors signaling one of the Southside gangs. Kyle stumbled when one of them punched him in the gut. The color bled from Kenny's face, and in a terrible buzzing rush of deafening adrenaline he tore out of the room. The building was six flights. He practically flew down the stairs.

Bursting out of the front doors he didn't stop, practically falling down the steps. Barely catching himself, he saw the butterfly blade slice across Kyle's throat as the redhead squirmed and fought.

Time froze. It was nothing but red-tinted terror for Kenny as the gang of men took off with the suit and Kyle's wallet. Sunflowers littered the street, soaking into the gritty pavement. Faintly he heard the kids screaming from above about cops and 911.

Kyle's green eyes were slack. He was collapsing, like a house of cards blown over in the wind.

Kenny screamed.

The nurse knew by now to leave him be. Damn kid had climbed the wall, somehow managing to scale three floors and break-in through his boyfriend's window. For three mornings in a row she'd found him in bed next to the sleeping redhead, curled around to him like a kitten. Tugging the blanket up around them both, she hooked up the nutrient IV for the sleeping boy, and set some extra food from the cafeteria aside for the dozing blond. She checked over the charts before leaving them to their breakfast.

Waking up was both a dream, and a nightmare. It was surreal to be in a hospital, seeing Kyle frail and drawn on the starched sheets. His veins stood out on his arms despite the IVs trailing from his limbs. The hair on his head was limp, dark circles sinking his eyes. Though he remained beautiful. Like some fantasy prince under a spell to sleep for a hundred years. Kenny's heart clenched at the thought and he moved up the bed, gently kissing Kyle's forehead and brushing back damp bangs.

Pristine white bandages were wrapped around his throat. Underneath was the wound that would become a scar. A macabre smile stretching across his throat. And yet he lived. The bastard who'd cut him didn't get his jugular, the angle ruined by Kyle's struggling. Not that there weren't some causalities.

Kenny shut his eyes as tears threatened. He'd known it was their four-month anniversary. He knew what Kyle was going to tell him. Maybe whisper to him between kisses, or maybe he'd shout it from the rooftops.

And now...

Kyle wouldn't say anything. Ever again.

A tear woke Kyle, falling onto his closed eyelids and clinging to his lashes like dew to grass. He opened his eyes slowly, carful of the blaring lights. Kenny's face greeted him, eyes red-rimmed and exhausted, but his smile brilliant nonetheless. Warmth swelled inside of him and Kyle's first instinct was to open his mouth—

Kenny's gut clenched when Kyle's hand flew to his throat, mouth frozen in a soundless twist of pain. "Shh," he hushed, "Please, Kyle. Don't strain yourself." He cursed under his breath when Kyle made a hoarse, rasping sound. His pretty face was streaked with tears in seconds, skin shining. "No, no," Kenny pleaded. "You're already dehydrated... Kyle, please don't cry. I'm here. I love you, I'm here." But the words only made more tears, Kyle's face crumbling into a look of absolute devastation.

And still, no sound. It killed Kenny. It ripped him apart and he couldn't help it, even as he tried to smile and wipe away Kyle's tears he could feel the hot sting of his own tears running down his face.

"What can I do?" he asked, trying to catch Kyle's gaze as the boy thrashed on the bed, trying to grab the IVs, scratching at the tubes. "Kyle!"

Then a terrible rasp, hollow and heart wrenching. His lips shaped the word, Nothing. Nothing.

Kenny held him tightly. "Let me," he entreated when Kyle started to fight. "Let me. This is what I can do." Rubbing his face in Kyle's hair, Kenny murmured, "I can be here. I can never leave your side." Drawing back, Kenny stared deep into his eyes. "I can love you. I'll never stop."

For a long time Kyle stared at him. Kenny's gaze never wavered.

Glancing down to Kenny's hands, currently gripping his forearms, Kyle grabbed one of them and held it flat. Then on Kenny's callused palm he drew with his finger. Slowly, letter by letter. Meeting Kenny's eyes and hoping for understanding, Kyle tried again.

" 'It's okay'," Kenny whispered. Looking earnestly into Kyle's sad eyes, he said, "It will be. I promise, Kyle. It will be." He lifted Kyle's hand and kissed it as fiercely as he dared, careful not to hurt him. "Kyle, I love you."

A gentle tickle over his arm drew his attention and Kenny looked down. Kyle was signaling for him to hold out his hand again. A slender finger brushed over his skin and Kenny didn't need to look down – he didn't need to look anywhere but into Kyle's eyes to know what it said.

..... I love you.




If you enjoyed this story, remember to check out the original artwork that inspired it!