**This week’s prompt is homecoming. Enjoy!**
Four thousand, four hundred, twenty-two hours and seven minutes since I saw him last.
Being military was hard for a lot of reasons, but until this last deployment, I hadn’t minded being away so much. But the wheel’s up call came in the middle of the night and I’d had no time to do anything other than kiss him goodbye, grab my go-bag, and walk out the door.
I love being a Marine. I loved serving my country and making shit go boom. I loved my platoon and the command that lead us. I was one of the lucky ones–a lifer that had a good spot, a good team, and choice assignments. And when Luka came into my life two years ago, I’d never been so relieved I was in the position I was, because it meant that I could show him off proudly without worry. My team had my back, and so did command.
For eighteen months, we’d never been apart for longer than a few weeks when I was sent to train. But then the call had come, and I’d had to leave him, warm and sleepy and sated, in my bed. The separation was hard on us both. I missed him like crazy. We messaged as much as we were able, with the occasional Skype call, but it hadn’t been enough.
I loved that man more than anything else, and I couldn’t wait to get home to him.
He’d moved into my house while I’d been gone. He’d already had a key to my place at that point, but I wanted more. At first, he was just house sitting. Checking in occasionally, picking up the mail. But I wanted him there, and it took a lot of cajoling, before he realized how serious I was. When I finally got to come home, I wanted him there waiting for me.
It was late before I finally made it to the door. The military flight back had been long, but I’d managed to wrangle my way onto an earlier transport. Luka wasn’t expecting me for another couple of days, when the rest of my platoon was scheduled to return. I had enough rank, as a Staff Sergeant, to pull a few strings. So I was stateside again a little earlier.
I hadn’t told Luka, because I didn’t want him to get his hopes up in case it fell through. Where the government was concerned, things could change at the drop of a hat. And when I touched down on US soil, I decided to keep it quiet. I thought the surprise was worth it.
Even though it was after eleven, the lights were still on in my tiny bungalow, giving the whole house a warm, inviting feel. Luka had hung a autumn wreath on the door, and I saw a few pumpkins strategically placed on the porch. Fall was heavy in the air, and the few, tasteful decorations reminded me that Thanksgiving was only a week away. Last year Luka had dragged me to his parent’s house, and we’d done the whole family thing. This year, things would be different. Just us and a few close friends.
I was quiet opening the door. The warmth hit me first, and then the scent of mulled cider filled my nose. I could hear Luka singing–he had an amazing voice–and I set my bag down carefully so it didn’t make a sound on the hardwood. Then I slowly toed off my boots, and used my stealth skills to sneak into my own kitchen.
Luka was washing the dishes, his back to me, as he sang and wiggled his hips to the beat he was creating. Two pies graced the counters. My heart filled, and my eyes stung.
Luka screamed and whirled around, his dark eyes wide and a soapy ten inch knife clutched in his hand. Then he went still, his chest heaving as he panted.
“Brady?” he whispered.
I grinned. I couldn’t help it.
Luka’s mouth worked for a moment, all fish out of water, then he sobbed out a breath, flung the knife on the counter beside him and launched across the room. I barely got my hands on him, and I staggered back into the table under the force of his assault. But the second we connected, my entire world righted, and I hiked him up so I could hold him more securely against me.
“You’re here!” He was crying, his body shaking, but he sounded so happy I didn’t even care he was getting snot and tears all over the collar of my utilities.
“I missed you,” I whispered into his skin. I inhaled deeply, his familiar scent of mint and citrus and fresh laundry washing over me.
“I missed you. I can’t believe you’re here. It was supposed to be days from now and I’ve been waiting and now you’re here.”
I didn’t know how long we stood there but even after my arms got tired and I had to rest against the edge of the table to keep us both upright, I still held on.
Six months apart, and we were finally together again. I hated that we’d had to spend even one moment apart.
But this? This was exactly the homecoming I’d longed for.