Nel showed up more when it got cold. Maybe he didn't have anywhere else to stay and couldn't just shack up under the stars, leaning up against his bike; maybe he got sick of sleeping in strange beds, but John wasn't surprised when opening the door let in more than a chill.

He drew the man up close to him, holding him at his wrists, then his waist; Nel wore the leather jacket he stole from John last visit, and it hung off his shoulders. "Nelly."

"Johnny." No one else called him that, and John slid the jacket off with ease. It hit the floor, studs too loud on linoleum, but Celia wasn't home. The way John kissed him let Nel know that, and they clutched at each other like they'd never parted and never wanted to.

"You look like shit. You need to stop using that shit."

"I know. Don't talk about it, Johnny. John." He grinned— that Nel grin, the one he wore no matter what. He could have been happy, or he could have been miserable; John suspected the latter and pushed dampened hair from his face, snowflakes melting under his palm. Kissed him again and Nel murmured between their lips, "Are my nephews here?"

"No. At Celia's sister's."


Nel knew warmth for a night, and John would miss him in the morning; wanderlust could only quiet for fleeting hours.