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You're a Painting of a Saint and I'm Nervous
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#17
  
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It was St. Valentine's Day, and he was painting Jude, and he felt weird about it. It was easier if he lost himself in the brushstrokes instead; the shape of Jude's body where he would fill in the details later. His pulse was going far too fast for this. Usually Kieran was more relaxed when he was painting, but that was impossible when he was painting the angle of Jude's neck, leaving space to fill in the shape of Jude's hair hanging down. He was so fucked.

"I can talk," Kieran said after he swallowed, eyes flicking up to Jude's positioning on his couch, the book in his hand. He grabbed a thicker paintbrush and dipped it in the deep gray so that he could start to map out the positioning of Jude's limbs and body. The rough details of his clothes would come later, assuming Kieran's heart didn't seize in his chest and kill him before then.

"Is that Jules Verne?" he asked, focusing on the book before adding another thick line of paint to approximate the edge of Jude's collar. Painting the angle of his legs was going to make Kieran's head feel like static electricity. This had been a terrible idea; he should have gone from memory if he was going to do this, especially because now Jude was going to know Kieran painted him. Goddamnit.

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   Jude Wright
#18
  
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When he had agreed to this - rashly, as he now realised it had been - he had not imagined that Kieran would be working on the floor. He hadn’t pictured it in particular detail at all, to be honest, but now he wished he had somehow been given some warning that Kieran would be on his knees the whole time. On his knees and occasionally looking up at him with an intense focus in his eyes and - well, sitting right across from him, it was much harder than Jude had expected not to let his imagination wander to places it shouldn’t.

Because he was stuck here, mouth dry, and sitting very still and Kieran was regularly looking, so if he started getting flustered or didn’t clear his thoughts soon, Kieran would absolutely notice. Hm. Perhaps he ought not to look Kieran’s way at all, because he’d been staring at the line of his jaw and the base of his neck and then at his hand on the paintbrush for far too long now without realising it, and when he glanced up slightly again Kieran was looking somewhere too close to his face - and Jude couldn’t let himself keep staring, because what precisely was his excuse?

So he shifted in place, as much as he dared, and dropped his gaze swiftly to the book in his hands, trying to latch onto the words on the open page so he could pretend he had so much as noticed the title of it. “Oh - Twenty Thousand Leagues,” Jude affirmed. “Yours?” He could better picture it being Kieran’s than Eileen’s, somehow. (Could better imagine Kieran reading here in the flat for fun, too; and he had a suspicion that Kieran would probably read anything and everything he came across without judgement, would give anything a chance.)

There was the hint of a smile on his face as he considered the book properly, though. Jude hadn’t read it in years - not since his Hogwarts days, probably - but he had been rather fond of it at the time.
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   Kieran Abernathy, Reuben Crouch


#19
  
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If Kieran had been thinking earlier, he may have thought better of suggesting they do an afternoon activity that involved him — staring at Jude every few seconds for a lengthy amount of time. And it felt like Jude was looking back too, looking at him kneeling on the floor. All of this while Kieran was painting the shape of Jude's body on his couch, from a lower angle, and thinking about the exact way his body settled on it. So — it was a lot, and Kieran was trying to remain as focused as possible on painting, because if he thought about everything else too hard he was going to lose his mind.

The worst part was that this had been his idea.

He switched paintbrushes so that he could start on Jude's hands on the book, and the curve of his perfect neck. And — oh, right. Twenty Thousand Leagues. He'd asked about the book, so he should have focused on it more. "Yeah," Kieran said with a grin, "I haven't finished it, though — but I like his other stuff, so I think I'll like this." Jules Verne was a muggle, or Kieran was pretty sure he was, but he wrote interesting books — fun books.

Kieran swiped his thumb across his cheek to move hair out of his face, leaving a streak of gray paint on his cheek.



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#20
  
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Kieran was answering his question about the book and more importantly had just succeeded in smudging paint across his cheek without thinking and all Jude could think at this was I love you. It was like an anthem in his head, sometimes, like the words might burn through his tongue if he held them there for too long. If he were smarter, he might have wished that it happened less frequently, this feeling; if he were smarter, maybe he would be more used to it by now.

But he wasn’t, and he had to duck his head to hide the blossoming smile at it, peering diligently down at the book until he was actually skimming over lines of it again. The sea does not belong to tyrants. “You’ll know more about fish than you ever needed to, but it’s a good adventure - though I want to know what you think about Captain Nemo when you’re finished,” Jude admitted, leaning forwards a little more keenly, the book dredging up old teenage passions in him. “Because I know he says he’s turned his back on society, forsaken all of civilisation in order to be free, but then occasionally he’ll stop and help the oppressed or quietly fund rebellions, so he must -” still have hope for humanity, Jude thought, realising Kieran might not have read far enough yet to argue about this.

“But you’ll appreciate one of the portraits hanging in his cabin, anyway,” he continued, with a knowing smile - Daniel O’Connell, that was - and Jude might have kept going, only as he brushed a strand of hair out of his face, he realised he’d forgotten he was supposed to be sitting still. He’d moved his hands, and his leg, and his head, and he tried to shift back into place, but couldn’t quite work out the exact position he’d been in. “Sorry -” he said ruefully, glancing at Kieran in apology and trying to replace his hands on the book how they had been so he didn’t ruin the painting that had been the whole point of being here. “Is this -?” how I was sitting before?
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#21
  
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"Maybe I like learning about fish," Kieran said, without any real interest or bite, because he was so clearly saying it just to say something. "I've only just met Captain Nemo, though. I'm thrilled that The Nautilus wasn't just a sea monster, though, that wouldn't've been very fun." Moby Dick had its place, sure, but why rehash it when one could get on a submarine? He was pleased that Jude liked the book, though, it meant they'd be able to talk about it — and whatever portrait he thought Kieran would like — and now he was smiling and then he was moving.

And it was less about capturing him perfectly than it was about capturing the spirit of him, Kieran tended to be a little soft on the details in the people he painted anyways, so maybe the motion helped. But he didn't know how to verbalize that, and, so —

"You're perfect," Kieran said, and surely he had meant for more to come out of his mouth, something that wasn't so — well, so obvious. But that was what he'd mustered, and he pushed a hand through his hair rather than follow it up with anything else, surely getting little drops of wet paint tangled in the strands as well.

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   Reuben Crouch


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