Micah woke to the steady rise and fall of Noel's breaths and couldn't remember why they'd ever been together. Being near him felt good enough; his skin was soft and warm, he was comparatively broad, and Micah's back fit neatly against his chest, but there was something clinical about their embrace. Touching Noel reminded him of talking to a counselor; it was cathartic, therapeutic even, but there was a nagging fact that the attention was only in exchange for some selfish gain. For a counselor, it was money, and for Noel, it was satisfying his hero complex. He always needed to save someone, and Micah was in the business of being saved.

He parted from Noel and reached to brushed black hair from his forehead; it was matted with sweat, and he wasn't surprised to find that Noel still murmured in his sleep. Soft sounds escaped his lips like glossolalias, and he wondered if maybe, they'd discarded their relationship too quickly. Maybe Micah was expecting too much; he wanted passion, but he didn't want the flaws of it. He wanted comfort, but Noel had bored him half to death. There were only so many nights he could spend indoors chatting about dead authors and lawyers and politicians—

When Micah stood and started to dress, he already knew he was going to forgive Dane. He would entertain the idea of going back to Noel, but he knew that he didn't want that and Noel didn't want that and maybe Noel had already found someone else. He blinked and realized that he was some kind of friend: he had no idea whether or not Noel was dating again or at least seeing someone. It was plausible; Noel was attractive, successful, and liked to give himself to men beneath him. That hero complex had broken a lot of hearts, and Micah wondered if Dane had some version of it. If Noel was Prince Charming, Dane was the brooding and not-good-for-you-but oh-so-tempting-and-enlightening hero of a dimestore romance, and Micah could have laughed.

Maybe he just liked to be unhappy, and for a terrible moment, he thought of Nehemiah. Their night together. How good it felt to be wanted like that again, and Nehemiah knew everything he needed to say to melt Micah's inhibitions—

We're hardly brothers. I didn't meet you until you were sixteen. It's barely a relation. It's not like we grew up together. Relax, Micah.

Some other bullshit, but Nehemiah was all kinds of wrong, even if he set aside the legal implications, and he wasn't going to let himself go down that train of thought with Noel sleeping feet away from him. Noel had a sixth sense for his dangerous ideas.

His clothes still smelled like rainwater, and he left a note on the nightstand: something about going out for a walk, but they both knew he wouldn't be back. Noel murmured, twisted onto his side, and furrowed his brow. His lips were always parted when he slept, and his skin looked a deep tan against the white sheets.

Maybe Micah expected too much, but Dane was going to have to be enough.