mirth fills his eyes as he stumbles
over the punchline of a joke he attempts to tell you,
his words cut off by a peal of laughter.
you smile anyway;
his joy is infectious.
he catches your gaze, unguarded and fond,
and the sound dies in his throat.
a most flattering shade of rosy.
"what are you looking at," he asks, shy.
you bite your cheek to keep your grin from spreading.
he blinks widely, ruffled and out of depth,
a fish out of water.
he averts his eyes to inspect his nails.
you watch him intently.
"stop that," he says,
lacking any bite.
"stop what," you ask.
you drink in the whole of him,
the fullness of his cheeks,
the flutter of his lashes,
the part of his pink lips.
the slight tremor in his hands.
"stop looking at me... like..."
"like," you press.
"like i'm some sort of..."
"miracle," you supply.
you'd meant to tease,
but the sincerity in your answer
startles you both.
he flushes an even deeper shade:
you repress your desire
to smooth your fingers over
to ignite sparks under your fingertips.
you fold your hands into your lap.
"i," he says,
at a loss. "you're so..."
his thought trails off,
and he lifts his gaze to meet yours
his eyes contain a glassy vulnerability,
so fragile that you fear
a blink is all it takes
for it to shatter.
his cheeks carry the heat of a sticky summer's day,
and the sigh that escapes his lips
is heavy with contemplation.
"anyway," you say,
deciding to spare him,
to release him back into the ocean
where he belongs,
where it's vast and unknown and beautiful.
"want to tell me that joke again?"
bemusement ghosting his features,
and then it clicks.
he knows when a diversion glances his way.
full and bright and earnest.
and there he is,
"promise to laugh? even if it's not funny?"
your smile in return pales in comparison.
there's always next time.
a/n: you don't even want to know who or what inspired this.