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Title: Silence Makes It Easier
Fandom: Stand Still, Stay Silent
Characters/Pairing: Emil/Lalli
Rating: E for Everyone
Length: 600 words
Summary: They'll return to civilization in the morning. But where will they go from here?
Other: Written for the prompt generator thread* over at [community profile] ssss. (Original Post) Aaand using this to fill prompt #55, "Waiting", in the 100-prompt challenge.

Silence Makes It Easier

The sun sat on the edge of the world like an egg, spilling its yellow yolk into the sea.

Emil watched it, and tried to ignore the slowly–spreading ache in his chest. He knew what it was, and he didn't want to think about it, even if it was hard – almost impossible.

He tried not to think about the morning. More importantly, what would happen in the morning. Or the afternoon. Or whenever the boat that was scheduled to pick them up would arrive.

One more night. Everything would change after this.

Lalli sat beside him, staring off into space. He leaned against Emil with his head resting on his shoulder. That was familiar. He'd taken to doing that a month or so into the expedition, and Emil had come to just expect it. Every time that Lalli sat down next to him – there it was, that head on his shoulder, the gesture that sent his insides twisting. That, and the hand that would settle over his own, Lalli's long fingers sinking into the gaps between his own.

How many more moments would they have like this?

It had been bad enough that everyone else was talking about leaving. Sigrun seemed excited to head back home, going on loudly and at length about all the stories she would tell. Tuuri wanted to see her brother, and had mentioned that Reynir was homesick, too. Mikkel seemed resigned to his fate. The support crew's voices crackling through the radio were enthusiastic, optimistic, full of We can't wait to see you! along with an unsaid We can't wait to see what you found.

And Lalli?

Emil knew he could have asked Tuuri to ask him how he felt, but he didn't. It didn't seem right. It was too personal.

"Will you miss me?"

Before all this, he might have said, You'll miss me, of course, no matter if the person he happened to be talking to actually would or wouldn't. But that was back then, and Lalli was not just anyone, and the question came more easily when Emil knew that the person it was addressed to wouldn't understand a word.

He turned his head a little to look at him. Lalli's eyes were open, blinking at him slowly, curious. Listening, but not understanding.

"I'll miss you," Emil said. For a split second, he hesitated, then squeezed Lalli's hand.

The squeeze he got in return wasn't a surprise. He half expected it, anyway. What was a surprise was Lalli lifting his head, brushing his lips against Emil's cheek. Quick, light, hardly anything, but undeniably there.

Emil stared at him, stunned, blushing scarlet. He tried to think of what to say, or what to do, but somehow nothing presented itself.

A voice came from the direction of the tank. Someone – Sigrun – was calling them. The sun would be setting properly soon, and it was time to go inside. Lalli looked over toward where it had come from, frowned, then stood. But he didn't leave.

Emil tried to will away the heat on his cheeks. It didn't work. Well, he decided, he'd have to just deal with that. Hopefully nobody would notice, and even if they did, it wouldn't be the first indignity he had suffered during this trip. Rising, he looked at Lalli, who just stared back in his quiet way.

Maybe he hadn't understood the question. But maybe he had. The kiss had said I'll miss you without any words at all.

Emil walked back, Lalli beside him. Their fingertips barely brushed.

The ache in his chest was heavy as a stone.
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