home is where i want to be
but i guess i'm already there
The concept of home is something that Theo's grappled with his whole life. It's not exactly a surprise, given the fact that he's lived in so many cities. He looks back on that now and knows how lucky he was, how it helped shape him to be the adventurous, curious person he is today β€” but it isn't all roses, all perfection, all positive character growth, the veritable baseline for a bildungsroman where he's the protagonist and the author has carefully crafted his journey across years and decades.

It comes with a feeling of displacement even in the cities he's lived in the most, how he isn't quite sure he can call himself a New Yorker, and how every time he says I've lived there it starts to feel a little faint, a little distant, and he thinks β€” did I, really, when it was barely for any time at all, when I couldn't name the cross streets of my favorite cafΓ©s, or tell you the best place to get a dirty breakfast burrito after a long night of drinking, or the best hikes and the best views and the best place to take a date?

He tells himself it's fine, that home isn't a place but a feeling, even if it feels a little cheesy β€” but Theo has always been a little cheesy, and he's not ashamed of it, not even a little. But when he's told himself that before, it's just β€” sat. A bandaid for a bigger problem, where Theo dedicates himself wholeheartedly to a task, to work, to career, ambitious and engaged and with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge that carries him across states and continents and towards exactly what he thinks he wants: the inspiring dream job, the extra work outside of it, the millions more degrees he wants to get, the thousands of books he owns and needs to read when he stops re-reading Journey To The End Of The Night for the fifth time, and all of that can, in a way, form some sense of home.

But it's not quite it, not quite there, and Theo feels a little guilty for it. Because he does have a home, warm and comfortable and filled with things he loves, and plants, and a cousin he adores, and he's safe and happy, but he's never felt entrenched in the earth, attached to it β€” and maybe that's a little why he feels so at home in the sky, why it was one of the easiest things for him to learn, once Peter and his lives had begun to overlap, to merge.

It's not until he's in a different country a million miles away that he finally understands what he's been telling himself all along, that home isn't a place. It's a feeling.

He's always been a sap, a full-blown romantic, prone to falling hard and fast, but what's incongruous to that is that he's always been ready for the other shoe to drop, always prepared for the it's not me, it's you, it's just not working, I'm seeing someone else, I'm not interested, I'mβ€” or the simple fade of communication, the shift from something sweet to something simple.

He'd let that happen before β€” the transition from the possibility of more back to something easy, some kind of friendship, and Theo had smiled and hadn't complained and had valued it, every bit of it. But when he thinks back to month one, and month two, he recognizes the soft, faint, underlying trepidation he'd felt β€” the knowledge that he'd come back from his traumatic jaunt through time to understand what he'd been missing, what he wanted, and that all he could do was hope and wish that the feeling was mutual, that month two wasn't going to see them drifting into something simple again. Which β€” seemed like the wrong thing to think, when their togetherness is simple, straight-forward and easier than anything Theo's ever experienced in his entire life. That isn't because it's not complex and intricate, but because it feels like they've fit together like β€” and he's feeling extra cheesy, now β€” like puzzle pieces, slot together with an easy, perfect fit, the kind where he can actually say you're on my wavelength after hours of laughter, hours of aching sides and aching cheeks from smiling, hours of talking and stupid antics and kissing and holding and the not talking, the silent sitting, Kit with his Switch and Theo with a book and the way, sometimes, they angle themselves to hold each other's hand while attempting to complete their other, lesser task one-handed, and how it's always a failure but it doesn't matter, and most times the console or book gets tossed aside in favor of laughter, kissing, holding.

And for the first time Theo stops waiting for the other shoe to drop, because there's a steadily growing part of him that knows more than it hopes that it's not going to happen.

And for the first time, Theo's habit of falling hard and fast gets to settle in itself, and he doesn't have to pretend to keep it at an arm's length, but he gets to let it wash over him and then he can just be, exist in this thing that's neither simple nor convoluted that's just β€” them.

And it's honestly impossible to imagine them being any other way.

And Theo wouldn't ever want them to change.

And when he cracks open his eyes in the early hours of a Tokyo morning, Theo doesn't budge. Sometime during the night he's ended up curled around Kit, a little strewn in the sheets but close enough that there's a blur to the outside of his vision when he tries to narrow his focus down on Kit's face. It's peaceful, perfect, fine lines and smooth skin, dark morning stubble that Theo wants to scrape over with his fingertips and then his mouth. He resists and knows he'll do it later, just breathes and watches instead, blinking slow and easy as a little bit of sunlight drifts through the blinds.

Theo doesn't know if he's ever felt so at ease before, so perfectly at peace, so content, even in a city he's never been to before, never lived in, and can't name the cross streets of his favorite cafΓ©s, or tell anyone the best place to get a dirty okonomiyaki after a long night of drinking, or the best hikes and the best views and the best place to take a date. He thinks about opening his mouth to wake Kit, to tell him how much he loves him, to wish him a happy anniversary for month six, a milestone and just the beginning of a future Theo can see in perfect relief β€” but he keeps his mouth shut, just smiles, just gazes, eyes half-lidded, at home.