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The Tropical Bird and the Lion

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Not for the first time in their twenty plus years together, Renato stood transfixed, simply watching his Albin. Usually Albin wasn’t still enough to allow him to just look his fill. Albin was a neurotic, overly dramatic, pain in the neck with a huge heart and he knew (although he could never admit it out loud) that he was lucky Albin loved him.

The cushion on the window seat beneath him was comfortable and finally warmed by his weight and Albin sighed in rare mood of contentment. He pulled the bright pink and blue blanket tighter around him as he watched the snow come down. He let one hand loose to touch the cold window.

Renato approached quietly. “So a vacation to the mountains wasn’t a bad idea, after all.”

Albin didn’t face Renato but his smile was visible in the reflection from the window. “My dear Renato, I’m a creature of the sun and beach. This snow is foreign to me.”

Renato chuckled. “But my tropical bird looks content.”

Albin grinned up at Renato. His face was free of make up and there was a spark in his eyes. “He is.”

“Good.” Renato nodded out at the window. “The view is beautiful up here.”

Albin kept his gaze on Renato. “Yes, it is.” He opened the blanket and offered Renato a hand. “Sit with me. If I’m your tropical bird, you’re my lion.”

Renato took Albin’s hand and let Albin pull him down. He relaxed, his back pressed against Albin’s chest. “Why a lion?”

“Why not? You’re my protector.” Albin closed his arms around Renato and hugged him tightly. He rested his chin on Renato’s shoulder. “My lion with the gold mane.”

Renato smiled wryly. “Even if it is more gray than gold these days.”

Albin gasped as if shocked by the idea. “There is no gray.”

Renato chuckled. “I hope you’re eyesight is not going, chérie. It would not due for you to wear glasses onstage.”

Albin snorted. “I will not dignify that with a response.”

Renato just continued to laugh.

“Thank you,” Albin said, suddenly solemn.

Renato stopped. “For what?” he asked, puzzled.

Albin nuzzled the side of Renato’s neck. “For dragging me up here. For putting up with my moods. For taking care of your tropical bird. Everything.”

Renato shut his eyes. He took a long moment just to enjoy Albin’s attention. “You’re most welcome. I only ask one thing in return.”

“What?”

“Remember this the next time you’re tempted to throw a shoe at me,” Renato answered, completely dead pan.

Albin nipped at Renato’s earlobe. “I’ll consider it.”