Chapter 1: Butterflies

Jonne sat quietly on the bed, picking at a thread that had come loose from the blanket. He was staring blankly, absorbing what he had just been told. Lauri had just sat him down and poured his heart out; said he felt more than just friendship. That Jonne’s playful kisses left him hungry for more, that they let loose a flock of butterflies in his stomach. Butterflies, he said, that he never wanted to go away.

And now Jonne felt guilty, because he didn’t know what to think. He hadn’t said anything, and he couldn’t meet Lauri’s eyes, so he stared at the patterned hotel bedspread, picking at it, wishing this would all just go away.

“Jonne?” Lauri finally asked quietly, daring to gaze at the blond. Maybe he should’ve kept it to himself, he thought. He was terrified now, because he’d made himself vulnerable – told Jonne everything he felt – and Jonne didn’t seem to have a single thing to say about it. He wasn’t sure what, exactly, he had been thinking in the first place – only that it felt like his heart would burst if he didn’t say it. Jonne had been stroking his skin so softly and sweetly, and he had felt like there would never be a better opportunity, so he had just… said it. And now, he wondered if maybe he could’ve had better judgment. Maybe he should never have even thought about saying anything. “I… I can leave, i-if you want me to,” he offered, his heart beating a thousand miles a minute, hoping that Jonne would not take him up on that. Still, Jonne said nothing, and did not look up. Lauri’s stomach dropped, but he took that as his answer, and quietly turned to leave the room. His hand was on the doorknob when Jonne finally spoke.

“I don’t want you to go. I’m just… thinking. What you just told me… it’s big, Lauri. But you don’t have to leave.” He patted the bed invitingly, and Lauri felt himself walking toward Jonne, sitting down beside him. He had been drawn in, really, and couldn’t have done anything but, even if he had wanted to.

Lauri was incredibly relieved when Jonne sank down to the bed and laid his head in his lap, his long, blond hair splaying out over his thigh. He took a chance and began to play with it, quietly, gently separating the strands, fingertips softly stroking Jonne’s scalp. He would shiver from it every now and then, and Lauri desperately wanted to know what he was thinking, but he would not push him.

Jonne sighed contentedly. If there was one thing he loved, it was when Lauri played with his hair. It was always so loving. Loving… It was loving, wasn’t it? And he liked it, he was sure he did. It was the only thing he was sure of, at the moment. He wasn’t certain what he felt about the rest of it, or what he was going to do about it, but the way Lauri was stroking his hair so tenderly almost made him forget all of that. He knew he wanted to feel that way – the way Lauri felt about him – because the thought of it was wonderful; he knew Lauri would be a good partner who would treat him well and strive to keep him happy. But he wasn’t sure he had it in him to feel that way about Lauri – his best friend. And the consequences… He was afraid of the consequences. It would not be easy for him to have a relationship with someone he was in a band with. Not even to mention the fact that it would be a gay relationship, and that the press would have a field-day with it. His private life would be spread over the pages of the magazines for all to see. He closed his eyes tightly for a moment. His private life was very important to him, and up until now, he’d done a fairly good job at keeping it private, for the most part. But this… this he was not sure he would be able to handle.

“I’m just not sure, Lauri,” he said finally, his voice still very small and quiet. “If I were to… develop these feelings for you… I mean… Have you really thought about it? Thought about the consequences of something like this? About how hard it would be? Do you really think it’s worth all that?”

Lauri’s hand stopped its movement and fell to the blanket; it was trembling. “Jonne, I’ve thought about everything. I’ve tortured myself over it. I’ve lain awake at night so many times just listening to your breathing in the dark and thinking about everything it would mean – good and bad. I thought so long and hard about whether to even tell you; I knew I could lose you for it. And I didn’t exactly expect to tell you tonight, like this, but… I had to know. I had to try. My heart needed to know. And to me, the good of it would make up for all the bad. So yes, I think it’s worth it. I know it is.”

Jonne sat up just a little bit, his stomach flip-flopping as he looked at Lauri. He wanted so badly to feel something for him, but he was still unsure, and didn’t want to say anything he didn’t mean. “I think… I think I could try, at least. I don’t know what I feel now. Confused. And scared. That must mean something, right?” He gave Lauri a very, very small smile.

“Are you sure?” Lauri asked, studying Jonne. “I mean… I don’t want you to think you have to. It wouldn’t change us, if you didn’t; I’ll always be your best friend.”

Jonne laid back down, placing a sweet, innocent kiss on Lauri’s thigh through his jeans. “I’m not sure. I’m not sure of anything, yet. But I think… I think I’d at least like to try.”

“Okay,” Lauri smiled, going back to playing with Jonne’s hair, feeling relieved. That was good enough for him. Really, things had gone much better than he had expected, and the fact that Jonne wanted to try brought that wonderful little swarm of butterflies right back into his belly.

***

Jonne was nervous as he ran the eyeliner pencil under his eye, framing it in black. Lauri was taking him to dinner tonight; their first date. They’d decided to take things slow, and the day before, at rehearsals, Lauri had come up behind him with a sweet kiss to his ear and asked him if he wanted to go to dinner. The kiss had been persuasive enough, and Jonne had grinned and said yes immediately; he was discovering he quite liked being wooed this way. He’d always played that role, and it was nice to be on the opposite side of things, for a change. It was strange to him, the thought of having a relationship with a man. Not that he’d never been attracted to men, he’d just… never had a homosexual relationship before. But somehow, the fact that it was Lauri made it so much easier on him; the fact that Lauri was a man didn’t bother him as much as he’d thought it would. So far, he’d been able to do exactly what he’d promised – to try it out, with an open mind, and an open heart. After all, that was what all this was about in the first place, wasn’t it? – finding out what his heart wanted.

And now, he realized, his heart was nervous. As he looked in the mirror, he cursed, examining the eyeliner. What if Lauri didn’t want him to wear eyeliner? He couldn’t decide if he should go natural or get made up; he was torn. He wanted to look handsome for Lauri – he liked wearing makeup, because he thought it made him look better – but he wanted Lauri to love him for who he was, too. He decided to leave the eyeliner but skip everything else; it was a compromise. Why was he worrying so much about this, anyway? It was just Lauri. But it seemed no matter how many times he told himself that, the nervousness wouldn’t go away. Maybe this was what Lauri meant when he said he got ‘butterflies’. Jonne thought it felt similar to the feeling he got on a rollercoaster, after climbing up a steep hill – right when it dropped.

He was startled out of his thoughts by a knock at his door, and he ran his fingers under his eyes one last time – just to be sure his lines were perfect – and ran to answer the door. Lauri looked just as nervous as he felt on the other side of it, as he accepted the single red rose the curly-haired man had brought him.

“Hey. You look…” His eyes lingered on Jonne’s bare chest for a moment. He really tried not to stare, but Jonne was incredibly attractive. He swallowed hard. “…shirtless.”

Jonne blushed furiously. He wasn’t sure anybody had ever looked at him like that. “I wasn’t sure what to wear. I wanted to see what you were wearing first. Come in – let me get this rose in some water and get a shirt on and we’ll go.” Jonne opened the door wider so that Lauri could come in and was surprised when he was pulled close, Lauri’s hands on his hips.

“You could wear anything and look good. Hell, I wouldn’t mind you going like that, but somehow, I don’t think the restaurant would like it.” He let his fingers brush over Jonne’s stomach, feeling the little shudder it earned him as he stroked the blond’s hipbones with his thumbs.

Jonne’s heart had lodged itself in his throat, and though the touch felt good, he felt rather a lot like a deer caught in the headlights. He didn’t think Lauri was going to rape him or anything, but he was scared to be looked at like that, touched like that. Not this soon. Not yet… He pulled away quickly, walking to the bedside table to get a glass. “I-I’m gonna get some water,” he stuttered, going into the bathroom and shutting the door.

He cursed as he looked into the mirror, angry at his reflection. He didn’t want to hurt Lauri, but he needed to take things slow. He’d never been sexual with another man before – not to mention that said man was his best friend – and he supposed it did weird him out a little. It was something he would have to get used to. Sure, they’d kissed, fooled around a little bit, but that was… different. That was before Lauri’s confession. And there was never the intention of taking things any further. The hunger he had seen in Lauri’s eyes, well… that was purely sexual. He took a moment to collect himself, splashing a bit of water on his face and getting some for his rose as well before going back into the room.

***

Lauri cursed as Jonne shut the bathroom door behind him. He should’ve known better. Jonne had never been with a man before – the blond had not told him this specifically but he knew it, and he knew immediately that he had gone too far. But seeing Jonne’s body and knowing for the first time that Jonne knew how he felt and accepted it… He’d needed to touch. And Jonne’s skin had been just as smooth and warm and soft as he’d known it would be, beneath his fingertips… his body burned with the thought of it. But no, Jonne needed him to be patient, so he would be, no matter how hard that was.

When Jonne came back into the room, he was sitting on the bed with his hands on his knees. “I’m sorry, Jonne,” he said quietly, staring at the floor, so that he wouldn’t look at Jonne’s gorgeous little body and get carried away again.

Jonne set the rose in the glass and put it on the table, then stopped to look at Lauri for a moment. “It’s okay. You didn’t mean to…”

“No, but I should’ve known better, and it’s not okay. I’m sorry. I’m just not used to… having to wait. And you’re… really beautiful. But it was wrong of me to push you like that, and I want you to know it won’t happen again.”

Jonne smiled genuinely and came over to Lauri, kissing his temple. “Apology accepted.”

Lauri’s hands fidgeted in his lap. “Could you please put a shirt on, though? It’s… distracting.”

Jonne laughed and moved toward his suitcase. “So I’m ‘distracting’, hm? That’s good to know… I think,” he said, pulling his favorite striped shirt from his bag and pulling it over his head, then going to the mirror to fix his hair. “Better?” he asked, looking at Lauri behind him in the mirror.

“Well, still distracting,” Lauri grinned back at him. “But manageably so.”

Jonne laughed again, approaching Lauri. “So you won’t be hand-raping me again tonight?”

Lauri saw the playful twinkle in Jonne’s eyes, and let his hands frame the blond’s hips. “Oh, I make no promises,” he teased, looking up at Jonne. “But you do look stunning, and I’m proud to have you as my date. I should think you’re safe at the restaurant, at least.”

“Let me tell you a secret,” Jonne said, leaning forward, his breath tickling Lauri’s ear. This was on purpose – they both knew it – for Jonne had always been quite a tease. “Once I’ve had a few drinks, I should think I’ll be a lot more… loosened up, and a lot less frightened of hand – or mouth – raping. In fact, I’m not so sure it’d be raping at all.”

Lauri tried not to shiver, but he couldn’t help it. “Well, let me know when you get to that point. Until then I’ll behave myself, as hard as it may be.” He stood up, and was a bit surprised when Jonne gave him a soft, warm kiss on the mouth – a kiss that lingered, that promised more if Lauri could find the patience. “Thank you,” Jonne said. Lauri blushed a little, but Jonne had always been affectionate, and he supposed he should learn to expect it. He offered the blond his arm, and Jonne slid his own through it, smiling as they walked to the lift.

***

Jonne sipped his wine, listening intently as Lauri spoke. They’d had such good conversation over dinner; Lauri had told Jonne some things that the blond had never known about him, and Jonne had shared a couple of things with Lauri that he’d never told anyone before. He found that opening up to Lauri came naturally to him; he’d always trusted Lauri, but he felt… closer to him, now. Maybe, he thought, because of the way Lauri had been brave enough to trust him with the biggest secret of his heart – that he loved him. And though Jonne did not think that what he felt was love – not yet, anyway – his fondness for Lauri was certainly growing, and he almost felt as though he had developed a little crush. He’d always been a terrible flirt, and the more he drank, the more flirting he found himself doing. He found that it didn’t turn him off or scare him away, when Lauri flirted back; in fact, it really made him feel… good. And now – with the wine having him feeling quite pleasant and warm – he found himself running his foot up Lauri’s leg, under the table. Lauri nearly spit out his drink, and Jonne couldn’t help a drunken little giggle.

“I don’t think I have thought out the consequences as thoroughly as I thought,” Lauri grinned, setting his wine glass down. “I forgot what a horrible, awful tease you are.”

Jonne feigned innocence, his hand on his chest. “Me? Why, Lauri… I don’t know what you mean. I’m perfectly innocent.”

Lauri rolled his eyes. “I think I should take the alcohol away from you now, or it’s me who’ll be raped, when we get back to the room.”

Jonne smirked evilly. “You’re already in for it; I’m horny,” he said, his foot resuming its previous action.

“No shit,” said Lauri, finishing his wine, pouring more, thinking that he was not nearly drunk enough yet. “But I thought we were taking it slow.”

Jonne got up and moved to the chair beside Lauri, his hand resting on the guitarist’s thigh. “That’s only because I’m scared. And I’m not scared when I’m drunk. I want to fool around – we’ve done it before.”

His fingers started to tiptoe higher, and Lauri caught his hand. “It means more to me than fooling around. I’ll touch you if you want me to, but it’s going to mean something to me, and that’s not taking it slow. I don’t want to be used just because you’re horny, Jonne.”

Jonne pouted at Lauri. “It’s not just because I’m horny, it’s like I said – I like you, but I’m scared to touch you, normally. I’ve never… you know… been with a man before.” He stroked the back of Lauri’s hand – the one that had his – with his thumb, and placed it on his thigh, high up. “I’m not scared, now, and I want you to touch me. Then I can see that it’s not so scary after all, and maybe next time I won’t have to be drunk.”

Lauri looked at him for a moment. That, he sortof understood – though he was afraid he couldn’t trust his own judgment; he had been drinking too, after all. Still… he couldn’t help raking his nails down Jonne’s inner thigh, letting him feel the vibrations through the denim. “You don’t have to be afraid of me, Jonne. You know I would never do anything you didn’t want me to.” He met the blond’s eyes, needing to see what was in them. “You really want this?”

“I… I can’t go all the way, Lauri, not yet. But I think, maybe, I could touch you, and I’d like it if you’d touch me, too,” Jonne said, his eyes looking remarkably wide and blue and surprisingly as innocent as they were curious.

“I just don’t want to… take advantage of you,” Lauri said, a little hesitance still lingering.

“I haven’t drank that much, Lauri,” Jonne smiled reassuringly, reaching for his hand again, entwining their fingers. “Just enough to settle my nerves and make me feel warm and happy and yes, a little horny. I feel bad for pulling away on you earlier, when we were in my room. That was me being scared, and I don’t want to be scared anymore, Lauri. I just want to… let it happen.” He leaned in to kiss at Lauri’s ear, giving it a playful, wickedboy nibble, trying to be a bit more convincing. “Please?” he purred.

Lauri didn’t need any more encouragement than that. If Jonne said he wasn’t that drunk, then he believed it. He threw enough money down on the table to pay for their meal and walked Jonne back to the lift – he knew there was a reason they’d decided they should eat at the hotel’s restaurant. He wrapped his arm around Jonne’s waist as they waited, trying to be a good boyfriend, to keep him safe and close and warm. Jonne smiled at him and leaned into his chest, snuggling himself in, really, making it a bit difficult for them to move once the lift doors opened – but they managed.

Jonne was at Lauri’s ear as soon as the doors shut, but Lauri fought him off, saying that he was too drunk and needed to behave in public.

“But I like misbehaving, and you like it, too,” said Jonne, running his tongue along the shell of Lauri’s ear. “And besides, this is not public. So some security guard gets all hot and bothered watching us on the cameras – so what? I want you, and I don’t care if a security guard knows it.”

“You might care in the morning,” said Lauri, tilting his head for Jonne – because he had tried to be the responsible one, but Jonne’s kisses were lovely, and he couldn’t resist them anymore. “We’re not going all the way,” Lauri said, wanting to make sure Jonne knew he meant it; he couldn’t be talked into doing anything that he felt Jonne might regret in the morning.

Jonne smirked wickedly, taking that as his go-ahead, sliding his hands down to cup Lauri’s ass through his jeans. “No, just some touching. And kissing. And licking. And sucking,” he said, giving Lauri’s ear another tempting suckle.

About that time, the doors opened, and they heard a throat clearing behind them. Luckily, it was only Jay, and Jonne waved at his friend as they stepped out of the elevator, while Lauri looked mortified.

“I don’t think I even want to know,” said Jay, rolling his eyes as he stepped into the elevator.

“He’s my lover,” Jonne informed him, then giggled, pulling Lauri close by his beltloops. “C’mon lover, let’s go have sex.”

Lauri couldn’t help smiling just a tiny bit, though he was a little worried that his bandmate had found out this way. But Jay didn’t seem bothered by it all, and just before Jonne dragged him back toward his room, he’d told them to “have fun, I guess.” Lauri thought Jay was just playfully annoyed by having to witness Jonne’s open, drunken sexuality.

It took Jonne a couple of tries to get the door open, but finally he managed. He grabbed Lauri by his shirt and pulled him inside. Somehow, they made it to the bed, kissing frantically, Jonne landing on top of Lauri. “Let’s go slow, okay?” he whispered, and Lauri thought he looked very beautiful and innocent in that moment. “The nervousness is coming back a little.”

“Butterflies?” Lauri asked, smiling.

That made Jonne smile, too. “Yeah, I think so.”

***

***

Chapter 2: Trust Me

The next morning, Lauri awoke with a shirtless Jonne spread over his bare chest. At first, he couldn’t remember how they had gotten there, but then he remembered they’d been having dinner. They’d both had a few drinks and had come back up here, but he couldn’t for the life of him remember how they had ended up like this. Although… he thought he faintly recalled something about Jonne falling asleep when he’d been kissing his neck, stroking his skin… In fact, he was sure that was what had happened. They hadn’t done anything, and for that he was actually relieved. He didn’t want Jonne to be drunk, the first time he got to touch him. That was even more clear to him now. He wanted to make sure they would both remember. And if that meant he would have to wait longer, wait for Jonne to be comfortable with the idea when he was sober – well, he would do it. He leaned in to kiss at Jonne’s neck – the little erogenous spot he had discovered just behind the blond’s ear – wanting to rouse him gently.

“Mmm..” said Jonne, his blue eyes fluttering open slowly. “G’mornin…” he said sleepily.

“Good morning to you, too, beautiful,” Lauri smiled, continuing to nuzzle Jonne softly. He was so sweet in the morning, when he was sleepy – this was something Lauri knew from experience, and now that he could show this kind of affection, he intended to take full advantage of it. “Did you sleep well?”

Jonne wove his fingers into Lauri’s sleep-tousled curls, keeping him in place. “I did,” he said, still sounding quite sleepy. Suddenly he sat up a bit straighter, looking at Lauri. “Did we…?” His heart had suddenly started to beat a whole lot faster, and he was panicking a little.

“No,” Lauri said, his hand coming up to stroke Jonne’s cheek. “You wanted to, but you passed out.”

Jonne let out a sigh of relief. “Sorry.” His hands went back to Lauri’s hair, softly stroking his scalp. “I’m a little relieved, though…” He looked down at the blanket. “I’m not sure I’m ready, and… I want to be sober.”

Lauri frowned a little. He was confused, and a little bit hurt, but he didn’t want Jonne to be upset about what had almost happened. “I’m sorry, Jonne. You said you wanted it; I kept asking. From now on, I’ll take care of you the best way I know how. Trust me.”

Jonne sighed again, though it wasn’t out of relief, this time. “I do, Lauri. I know you’ll take care of me. That, I’ve always known. It’s why I wanted to try this; because you’re so noble and caring and loyal… I want to love you.” He took Lauri’s hand and placed it over his chest, palm-down. Lauri could feel his heart beating beneath his fingertips. “It’s growing. Just give me time. You want it, and I want it too.”

Lauri didn’t know what to say to that. All he could do was stare down at Jonne in awe, wondering at the fact that he had ever questioned whether to tell him how he felt. He had one of those trademark Lauri-looks on his face, the kind that was all furrowed eyebrows and confusion, because it was so unbelievable to him that he was getting what he wanted, after all.

Jonne just laughed at his expression and pulled him down for a sweet good-morning kiss. “I like you, Curls,” he said.

Lauri’s expression got even more confused. “You like my curls?”

Jonne laughed even harder. “Well, that too. But I said ‘I. Like. You. Curls.’ As in, it’s a nickname.”

Lauri wrinkled his nose. “I don’t like it.”

“Oh come on, it’s cute. Just like you,” Jonne said, placing a kiss on the end of his nose.

“Well… I’m not going to complain that you think I’m cute, but do you really have to call me that?” Lauri asked, giving Jonne a hopeful look.

Jonne moved to straddle Lauri playfully, grinning down at him. “Oh, I absolutely do. Suck it up, big boy.”

“Is that so?” Lauri asked, giving an intrigued look.

“It is,” Jonne said, grinning.

“Well then, I can see the only option is to TICKLE YOU!!” Lauri exclaimed, his fingers attacking Jonne’s ribs, tickling mercilessly.

“No!... Lauri!!... STOP!!” Jonne squealed, laughing hysterically, trying to fight Lauri off. At one point he managed to get Lauri’s hands pinned, but Lauri was stronger than him and broke free easily.

“You left those ribs unguarded, I can’t help myself,” Lauri grinned.

By this time, tears of laughter were streaming down Jonne’s face. “Okay!” he cried, still trying to squirm away. “Okay! I give in!!”

“You’re not going to call me that anymore?” Lauri asked, his hands stopping for a second, looking up at Jonne.

“No, I won’t, just please stop tickling me,” Jonne panted. Lauri allowed him to lay down, and his chest rose and fell heavily as he tried to gain back his breath. “You suck, Curls,” he smirked, prompting Lauri to start the tickle-fight all over again, which was really what Jonne wanted, anyway. He couldn’t recall the last time he’d been so playful and happy with anybody.

***

Jonne sat down on the floor between Lauri’s knees, leaning back against his chest, wanting to be held. He had really taken a liking to the way Lauri held him – the comfort and security of being in his strong arms – and he found himself wanting it often. Lauri obliged happily, wrapping his arms around Jonne, and leaning forward to press a kiss to his hair. Their being together was almost second nature, by now.

“You two are affectionate,” commented Antti aloud, just as Tommi came back into the room. The band was at their practice space, having a meeting, and Tommi had gone off to take a routine call from the record label. Antti’s comment prompted all eyes in the room to fall on the two of them. Only Jay knew that they were together, even after all this time, and he gave Jonne a look as if to say ‘you should just tell them’.

Jonne sat up a bit straighter, looking back at Lauri, then addressing the four pairs of eyes on him. He cleared his throat. “Well, I guess we should tell you guys that we’re dating,” he said simply, then looked back at Lauri again. He wished they’d had time to discuss this between the two of them, but he had been put on the spot, and had not wanted to lie; he wasn’t ashamed of Lauri, after all.

Tommi started laughing, and shook his head at his brother – he was the only one who didn’t realize it wasn’t a joke; after all, Jonne was straight. “That’s funny, Jonne.” Antti, Nakki and Jay looked from Jonne and Lauri to Tommi and back. Antti and Nakki looked confused, and Jay looked slightly concerned.

“No, I’m serious,” Jonne said, still looking at Lauri – looking right into his eyes. “I like him. He makes me feel good.” Lauri smiled broadly at that, and Jonne decided to punctuate the statement with a soft, chaste kiss to the lips. It felt good to Lauri, to know that Jonne was introducing their relationship to the band – to his big brother – that way.

Everyone was silent for a while, and it was Jay who finally said something, not wanting the couple to get the wrong idea; he knew his other bandmates and Tommi were just surprised. “They really compliment eachother well,” he said.

“I guess so,” agreed Tommi quietly. “I don’t object or anything, I guess I’m just… surprised.”

Lauri decided that he should say something now, because he knew Tommi meant well but was afraid Jonne would take offense to that. Sometimes things could be tense between the two brothers, and he didn’t want this moment to be that way. “I think I can speak for Jonne and I both when I say that we’re surprised too. But all I want is for him to be happy, Tommi, even if that means not being with me.”

Everyone was smiling now – even Tommi. The two of them were pretty sweet. “Alright, Lauri. I’m officially impressed. I just want the two of you to be careful, okay? You know how things are, and I don’t want to see either one of you hurt.”

And that was the end of the conversation, for then. After the meeting, they all went out for drinks together, and Jonne and Lauri were toasted numerous times and bought several rounds of drinks for being the ‘new, happy couple’.

That set the wheels in Jonne’s brain to turning incessantly. He was not sure they were a couple, not just yet, anyway, but he didn’t care to correct anyone. He didn’t think it was necessary, and he thought it would hurt Lauri – which wasn’t what he wanted to do. So he stayed very quiet and introverted throughout the night, staying close to Lauri, sipping his drinks almost silently. He started to get a little more loosened up the more he drank, worrying less about what everyone thought of him and Lauri, and thinking more about how he actually felt. And the more he thought about how he felt, the more snuggly he found himself getting, until he was right up against Lauri, with his head on his shoulder, eyes closed, and fingers playing in his curls. He couldn’t stop thinking that it was so wonderful, so comfortable that he could just fall asleep right there. Falling asleep cuddled up to Lauri was cosy and safe and… He realized suddenly that he couldn’t bear the thought of not falling asleep in Lauri’s arms, because that was a million times better than falling asleep in a cold, empty bed. “Hey, you want to come home with me?” he asked, giving Lauri a sweet little drunken-Jonne smile, barely lifting his head from the guitarist’s shoulder.

Lauri had been deeply entranced in thought, and it took him a moment to really register what Jonne had asked. And then he was sure he must’ve heard him wrong. “Hm?” he asked, surprised.

Jonne had to laugh at the look on Lauri’s face – it was that totally bewildered look he got sometimes, the one he loved more than anything. “I want you to come home with me,” he said, punctuating each word, deciding against poking Lauri in the nose for being so damned cute - he knew the other man wouldn’t appreciate it.

“You want me to…” Lauri trailed off, still too surprised to really say anything.

“To spend the night in my bed. Yes. I want to fall asleep in your arms. The more you snuggle me, the closer I feel to you, and the more unbearable the thought of not having you next to me all night is. You make me feel safe.” The last couple of sentences Jonne had whispered, with his eyes closed and his head still on Lauri’s shoulder, and it was something he probably would’ve been too shy to share if he weren’t drunk. But when he opened his eyes and saw the broad smile on Lauri’s face, he couldn’t regret saying it even for one moment.

Lauri leaned in to kiss Jonne deeply, wanting to convey his feelings for him, and how much it meant to him to hear that. In fact, he had just been thinking about this, wondering how long it would take – not impatient, of course, never that, just curious. He could feel Jonne growing closer and closer to him, and he had begun to get to the point where he could swear he saw similar emotions to what he was feeling in Jonne’s bright sapphire-colored eyes. “Of course I’ll come home with you, sweetheart. We’ll cuddle in your bed tonight, and I’ll keep you warm and safe and cosy, okay? How does that sound?”

“That sounds like exactly what I need,” Jonne said, smiling to himself, burrowing deeper into Lauri’s side, where it was comfortable. And it was what he needed – more than anything in the world. He needed to open his heart to Lauri, and finally let him in.

***

“Lauri?” Jonne whispered to the darkness, feeling quite wonderful being snuggled up to his boyfriend’s bare chest – and he had decided, laying there in the dark, that Lauri was, in fact, his boyfriend. “Lauri, are you awake?”

“Barely,” Lauri murmured, but couldn’t help smiling, even as sleepy as he was. “What’s on your mind, baby?”

“I was just thinking… we are a couple now, like everyone kept saying, aren’t we?” Jonne asked quietly, realizing suddenly that he was more than a little nervous to hear Lauri’s answer.

He felt Lauri shift a little bit beneath him, and could sense Lauri’s eyes on him in the darkness, trying to make out the features of his face. “Do you want to be a couple, Jonne? I mean… earlier you just said that we were dating. You don’t need to feel pressured if you’re not ready for that much yet; the guys are just excited.”

Jonne thought about that for a moment silently, putting his hand on Lauri’s abdomen, fingers stroking his skin lovingly. He had to smile when he felt Lauri shiver under the touch. “I think I’m ready to be a couple, Lauri. I was serious when I said you make me feel good. And it’s been almost a month now. I told you something was growing in my heart, before, and you’ve been so patient and sweet with me, and… I think I’m ready for more.”

Lauri was wide awake now. He didn’t know what to say, but he didn’t want Jonne to think he was anything but happy to hear that. “I’m really… speechless. In a good way. I’m surprised. I’ve been waiting to hear you say that. Are you really sure you’re ready? I don’t want you rush you. You can have all the time you need.”

Jonne answered with a soft kiss, finding Lauri’s lips in the dark. “I’m sure. And I think, maybe, if we’re not too hungover when we wake up, we could… make it official,” Jonne said suggestively, his fingers playing a little bit lower on Lauri’s abdomen. They still hadn’t done anything sexual – Lauri wanted to wait until Jonne was ready, and Jonne was (or had been, until now) still a little too nervous and scared and shy. They had had a couple of hot and heavy moments, sure, but it hadn’t been right yet.

Lauri growled at him playfully. “Don’t tease me, Jonne. You know I hate that.” He took Jonne’s hands in his own, not wanting them on his skin because he couldn’t resist, and it had been a while since he’d been touched like that… “We can do whatever you want to do in the morning – if you still want me. If you’re sure you’re ready.”

“I am ready. I’m nervous because I don’t know how to touch you, but… I’m really starting to… to love you, and I want to show you that by touching you,” Jonne whispered shyly.

Lauri suddenly sat bolt upright, almost knocking Jonne off him. “You what? Say that again.”

At first, Jonne had been worried by the reaction, but as soon as he heard Lauri’s words, he knew his lover was happy. “I think I might be starting to fall for you. Fall in love with you.”

Lauri turned on the bedside lamp – he needed to see Jonne’s face. They both blinked against the sudden brightness for a moment, but Jonne soon found both sides of his face being cradled between Lauri’s palms, the skin of his cheeks being tenderly stroked by Lauri’s thumbs. “Don’t say it unless you mean it, Jonne,” he said, sounding a little desperate, as if he needed to hear it again – needed to be reassured.

“I wouldn’t, Lauri. For the first time, I can say it. What’s growing in my heart for you is more than fondness, now. It’s love. Finally,” Jonne smiled, turning his head to place a few kisses in the center of Lauri’s palm.

“Are you sure?” Lauri asked, looking quite scared. Hearing Jonne say that was making him feel something else altogether, and he thought he might die if it wasn’t true, now that Jonne had said it.

“You asked me to trust you, and I did. Now I need you to trust me,” Jonne said, nuzzling Lauri’s hand, looking right into his eyes. “I love you, Lauri.”

“But you’re drunk. What if you don’t love me in the morning?” Lauri didn’t know why he was having such a hard time accepting it. He felt if he did, he could never go back, and the thought of the power Jonne held over him to absolutely crush him was scary. He didn’t want to push Jonne away, but he needed to be sure Jonne meant it.

“Yes, I’m drunk, but that doesn’t change the way I feel about you. I’ll still feel the same way about you in the morning, and I’ll show you in the morning, when we’re sober, with my kisses and my touches. I’ll give myself to you, because I love you, Curls.” The nickname had sortof stuck; Jonne now used it when he wanted to endear himself to Lauri, and Lauri still pretended to hate it – though he couldn’t bring himself to, really, because it was Jonne’s sweet name for him.

“Oh god, there you go with that nickname again.” But it had broken through; Lauri’s eyes were misty. He had waited so long to hear Jonne say that, and if he was honest with himself, he had started to wonder if he would ever hear it. “I love you too, Jonne. I trust you.”

We trust eachother,” Jonne corrected, his lips hovering inches away from Lauri’s. “And now, we love eachother.” And he sealed that promise with the deepest kiss they’d shared yet. They stayed up for a while, kissing, Jonne innocently stroking Lauri’s skin, making him shiver once in a while with the lightness of his touches – and Lauri deciding to return the favor, because he knew where Jonne was ticklish. Jonne would laugh and nip at his bottom lip for it, or nudge him in the ribs, or tickle him back on purpose, and it became a wonderful little game.

Hours later, when they both finally managed to drift off, they were feeling thoroughly kissed and loved and excited by the possibility of more. In the morning, there would be more, and they would love eachother even better.

To Be Continued.