“I don’t like this, not at all.”
Alfred stopped, his footsteps echoing in the underwater tunnel, the sound bouncing off the thick glass surrounding them. “What do you mean?” He grabbed Arthur’s hand, entwining their fingers and giving a reassuring squeeze. “You were fine in here this morning.”
Arthur moved closer to Alfred, closing his eyes and trying to breathe steadily. “It’s too small,” he muttered, trying not to make any relieved noises when Alfred’s arm wrapped around his shoulders. “I don’t like it. It feels like it will suffocate us both.”
“Don’t worry about that,” Alfred whispered as he began leading Arthur through the domed hallway. They were on a short vacation – just a weekend in Fiji, away from their stressful jobs, even if just for a little while. Alfred had talked Arthur into staying at the underwater hotel. ‘Like spending the night in the aquarium,’ he had said. But at night, without the sun to filter through the water, it was dark and oppressive and Arthur wasn’t one for small spaces. “It’s just as huge as it was this morning – so what if you can’t see that far into the ocean? It doesn’t mean it’s not there.”
Quietly Alfred brought Arthur to their pod-shaped room with an ocean view on the ceiling and one wall, leaving the others covered as to not disturb their neighbors – or vice versa. Arthur couldn’t figure out what to do with his hands, didn’t know where to look or how to breathe properly. Jesus, they were going to die.
“Hey, just calm down. Arthur look at me.” Alfred kneeled in front of his lover, taking Arthur’s hands into to his own and waiting for those green eyes to fall upon him. The light was on, but it was only a dim lamp that did nothing to penetrate the darkness around them. “You’re going to be okay. I promise, alright?”
Arthur sighed through his nose, his fingers wiggling in Alfred’s grip. “Oh, and how can you be so sure, hm?” He was trying to act normal, trying to give his love an honest smile, but it felt faked even to him.
“’Coz I’m going to be right here with you – the whole time. I’ll make sure nothing ever happens to you.” Alfred grinned and stood. “C’mon, let’s get dressed. It’s no different than our room at home, but there’s well… ocean! I think all we have to worry about is sea monsters.”
“Or perhaps the glass shatters and we all drown.”
Alfred’s face scrunched up and Arthur apologized quickly. “Well if that happens, I’m sure my coach will sue this place for every cent they’re worth.”
Arthur snorted, kicking off his shoes and unbuttoning his shirt, letting the fabric slide from his shoulders easily. “I’ll take comfort in that thought as I’m dying, I assure you.”
Suddenly Alfred was crawling over him, naked and pushing him down onto the bed with a devious grin. “Can we sleep naked tonight?” he asked, picking at the button of Arthur’s pants. “No one will see us but the fish.”
“I…” He was about to reject the idea entirely, staring up into the inky color of the ocean above them, occasionally seeing an unidentifiable blob swim overhead in the faint moonlight that did nothing but make the water a lighter shade of black. But Alfred’s hands began to trace along his chest and shoulders, hands roughened from years of fencing professionally. And even in the dim lamplight he could see the sincerity in Alfred’s blue eyes. “Only if you promise to hold me close,” he mumbled.
Alfred seemed to understand, slowly undressing Arthur and pulling the thick blue blanket over their naked bodies. Arthur let his head tuck itself in the dip of Alfred’s shoulder, the American’s fingers ghosting along his spine – up and down. He sighed in content, letting his own hands explore the swells of muscles of Alfred’s chest and the flat canvas of his stomach. It was intimate moments like these that Arthur found himself grateful that he’d fallen in love with an athlete. Between his busy block schedule and Alfred’s training and competitions, they hardly had time to share together. It could have easily been seen as a strain on their relationship, and sometimes that was true, but here, with Alfred in the dark, everything was so perfect and sensual.
He ignored the darkness, the looming pressure just above them, and instead focused on Alfred’s traveling hands, the soft, loving caresses and the warmth of bare skin against his own. Alfred smiled and kissed Arthur on the forehead. “Thank you for coming here with me,” he whispered. “I know you don’t like it all that much… but it means the world to me, so… thanks.”
“You forget; I’ll go anywhere with you.” Arthur stared into Alfred’s eyes, his fingers walking along the man’s pectorals. “Just as I know you’ll go anywhere with me. But I do believe we ought to sleep, before things get out of hand.” He could almost feel Alfred wilt and in a moment of weakness he added, “We can save that for the morning. Then the whole ocean can see our love.”
Alfred laughed and pulled Arthur close, pressing his nose into the crown of Arthur’s hair. “Alright, I get it. I love you Arthur.”
“I love you too, you big oaf.”
He released Arthur slowly and they finally settled back into comfortable positions. Alfred kissed Arthur’s shoulder, just as the Englishman was about to drift into a contented slumber. “Will you blame me for waking up early?”
Sleepily Arthur smiled. “Not one bit.”