No matter what else seems to change (and the number of items on that list seems infinite to Billy—and even more so to Dom), Dom's enthusiasm for seeing Billy doesn't. If anything, it's expanded like a great big balloon with no bursting point, the sound of Dom's Yay! vibrating from the other side of his front door pulling an incredulous giggle from Billy's throat as he approaches the house, brandishing his own spare key. Billy is immediately tackled upon entry, the force of Dom's superhuman hug and the awkward carriage of his own bags toppling him over his big suitcase and onto the floor of Dom's foyer, feeling like some silent film gag.
As Dom peppers his face with ridiculous kisses, Billy's about to dub him more slobbery than his dog when the scent of cookies distracts him. He unravels handles and bag straps from his hands and shoulders, literally lifting his nose in the air.
"I baked. And cleaned," Dom says proudly, springing to his feet and holding both hands out to Billy.
"My little Stepford wife." Billy gives him a proper hug and presses a firm kiss to his cheek. "I'll bring you a string of pearls my next visit."
Dom rocks back and forth on his heels, hands clasped behind his back. "What did you bring me this visit?"
"What makes you think I brought you anything?" Billy says as he tips his big suitcase down to the floor and quickly unzips it, extracting three or four packages from the sordid pile of clothes therein.
For the first few hours, Dom can't stop touching him—not in any suggestive way, more in a can't-help-myself kind of way. He's an appendage, guiding Billy through rooms, to cupboards, refrigerator, and couch, fingers lighting on forearms and playing with Billy's palms as their communication eventually slides from too verbal to telepathic.
When Billy's eyes start to go heavy from travel and jet lag, Dom silently pulls his legs long, his shoes off, and a blanket over him, rumbling, "Get a couple of hours, even us out."
Billy is obedient, nearly asleep by the time Dom reaches the archway, though Billy does see him glance back at him once before he leaves the room.
Dom's cheeks go warm, those of a little boy caught. "Don't disappear on me," he murmurs, smiling in a way that makes Billy inhale and come halfway back to awake again.
Their routine is easy to fall into, and as familiar as the routines they live separately every day that they're apart (far too many). Food, drink, walking, yoga, surfing. Nonsense chatter. Laughing, always laughing. Sometimes painful.
Eventually Dom's demons start to show, and that's familiar too; he hasn't gotten any better at reining them in, but he has gotten worlds better at handling the emotional turmoil that comes with them. Billy remembers one particularly painful visit, years ago, when Dom's routine had been quite different, beginning with sleep til mid-afternoon and ending with broken glass. Billy's seen dimmer shades of that visit since then, most notably after the breakup with Evangeline, though these days those feelings are more often encased in a well-placed sigh or a dark look.
The heaviest of this visit happens after a round of updates on Jack, with accompanying photos.
"Need Nutella," Dom says, right to the point, uninterested in hiding anything, and Billy laughs out loud, slipping his phone away as Dom shuffles into the kitchen.
"So feminine, self-medicating with chocolate," he calls after him, though Billy's still eternally grateful it's just chocolate now.
"Shut it!" Dom returns with two spoons and a playful scowl. He wastes no time peeling back the foil and digging right in, Billy quickly following suit and instigating a spoon duel, which he lets Dom win.
They eat quietly.
After some time, Billy breaks the silence. "I hate being away from you," he says.
Dom lets his spoon fall, clattering, against the dining room table, and lifts Billy's free hand to his mouth, pursing a messy kiss to his knuckles that he then tries to lick up and makes even messier.
"Stop," Billy laughs, pretending to try to pull his hand away, though he doesn't want him to, not at all.
Dom understands that, just as he understands everything else about Billy, smiling behind Billy's fingers, which he still holds pressed against his lips, burning a path between their eyes that Billy can almost see. "I love you," Dom says pointedly.
Something inside Billy starts to close in on itself at that; Dom recognizes it in the way he nearly cringes at the words. And that's just as routine as everything else. If history's any indication, Dom should be expecting a quiet storm from Billy for the rest of the afternoon, Billy taking on all or most of the guilt in this thing between them. He'd explained to Dom once that he feels like he doesn't deserve it, any of it, not from Dom, or Ali for that matter. Dom's never understood why putting words to what he feels is so much worse than showing it with his whole body, both to Billy and to the free world, and Billy's never been helpful when Dom's tried to get clarification on just that.
When Billy returns from an appointment in the early evening with bags of takeaway, Dom is sat on the couch with his legs stretched long, face glowing eerily from the screen of his phone. "Hello," he says, cheery but distracted, finishing up an e-mail or yet another tweet before lifting his eyes to Billy. He gives him a controlled smile but accepts a kiss on the mouth without hesitation.
Dom is visibly softened when they part. "I opened the wine." His head jerks minutely in the direction of the kitchen.
"Good," Billy sighs heavily, so happy to be back, eyes falling on Dom's half-empty glass of red on the table and tasting it on his lips in hindsight. "Be right back." He lifts the bags of food in explanation before disappearing into the kitchen, taking his time plating it and pouring a glass for himself. He drinks more than half and has to refill it before reconvening with Dom in the living room.
"Thanks, sweetie-pie," Dom jokes, smacking a kiss against his shirtsleeve before hunching over the coffee table and digging right in. Billy doesn't. He faces Dom and folds his legs yoga-style, nursing his wine. Dom notices after about two bites, eyes going wide and blue as he swipes a napkin messily across his mouth.
"I, ehm," Billy hesitates, the look on Dom's face putting the edge back into what he's about to say, though something about the two of them being here together still makes it okay, has always managed to make everything okay. "I'm happy we get this time together, you know? I feel like, when we're alone... somehow I get a part of you that no one else does. I like that."
They've both said as much to each other many times before, but Dom still smiles as if he's hearing it from Billy for the first time. He looks surprised, though, when Billy makes it clear he's not finished.
"In fact, I find myself getting sort of competitive about it, the more time that passes. I have to admit, I've resented some of the other people or things who've touched your life over the years, for what they've given you and gotten from you." Dom goes very still, listening. "I love them, too, because they've made you who you are — and I love you," Billy makes sure to look right at him when he says it, "But at the same time, if it's not me, I don't want it anywhere near you. You know?"
Billy knows it's an awful thing to say, unfair and maybe even morally wrong, not to mention not even entirely accurate. He wants Dom to marry, he wants children for him, possibly even more than Dom does. But perhaps he's only in a position to make an exception because he has it on such good authority that Dom's imaginary future wife is going to have to be some sort of supernova of understanding (Ali's truly a fucking miracle of womanhood). Still, it's how he feels. He finishes his wine with a flourish and places the empty glass on the table.
Dom purses his lips. "Soooo... you essentially want me to live in a plastic bubble that only you have access to? 'S very healthy, Bill," he giggles, his nose scrunching in that way that clearly says You're fucking mad, man, but he also seems partly thrilled at the idea. Billy's suddenly reminded of how their friendship first started, as a bit of hero worship on Dom's part.
He's not sure exactly how he would describe it now.
"You know what I mean," Billy says gently. "Before all this, there was us." It's another thing they've both said to each other many times, usually as a means of reconciling during their rare arguments. "I have claim to you, and you have claim to me."
Dom's eyes go dark again, like they had earlier, and for a brief moment Billy half-expects one of those rare arguments. "No I don't," Dom mumbles into his glass, defeated, and finishes it off with a healthy gulp.
Before Dom can tuck back into dinner, Billy leans forward, wrapping a hand around his neck as he rests his forehead to Dom's temple, thumb playing at the hollow of his throat. He sees Dom close his eyes and bite his lip, his profile all blurred up close, to the point where Billy can almost pretend it's an image from nearly a decade ago, a relic.
After a long moment they turn to each other, perfectly in sync as always, Billy kissing Dom on the mouth again but with a ferocity that wasn't there when he'd just come home, Dom accepting it as if he'd been expecting it, as if he's on the ready to do just that at any given moment. In one swift move, Billy's crawled into Dom's lap and is cupping his face, pulling a sweet little growl from Dom's throat as he deepens the kiss, instantly making it shift from spontaneous affection to an unequivocal prelude. Dom's hands are firm, racing up the denim over Billy's thighs and wrapping greedily around his hips before wandering again, seemingly everywhere, inspiring Billy's mouth to explore, too, slipping down and teething at the side of Dom's neck. Dom exhales quietly what sounds like "Jesus," and suddenly, fiercely, Billy misses his mouth again, moving up to capture it for his own, slipping his tongue quickly inside to play against Dom's. Dom breathes heavily through his nostrils, air puffing hot against Billy's cheek, fingers slipping down and hooking into Billy's belt loops to pull him still closer.
Billy pulls away without warning and quickly maneuvers to take his seat again, and it's like they've hit a reset button, if not for their labored breathing and the muss to Billy's hair where Dom had been happily tangling his fingers just seconds ago.
Dom's head falls against the back of the couch as he reaches down to adjust himself. "Tease," he mutters, a bit fondly but mostly in accusation.
It's not a testament to will power so much as a testament to their history together that nothing physical happens the rest of that day, or in the days following. Billy's trained them both in self-control in recent years, parsing out his affection selectively and strategically to the point where it's rare that they come together like that at all. Dom rationalizes that it's a matter of health and hygiene; if they did it every time they wanted to, they'd practically be hermits.
As he lies awake in bed on Billy's last night, peering over the top of his latest book and into the shadows, his mind can't stop turning over the memory of their first kiss. He'd been laying just like this, only scooted a bit further down, and on Elijah's New Zealand bed, legs dangling off the end of the mattress. His hands had been free to wrap around Billy, who laid beside him, eyes crinkling and stomach convulsing with giggles that weren't entirely sober. Elijah'd been perched in his desk chair just a few feet away, nattering to himself while he looked something up on his computer (Dom couldn't be arsed to remember what now, not so many years later, not when there were so many, more important details to recall from those few incredible minutes). Dom had stared at Billy's profile, completely stubborn, until he'd finally turned to stare back, green eyes questioning and then not. They'd both smiled as if coming to an agreement, and Billy'd leaned in, pressing his mouth to Dom's so softly and quietly that Elijah couldn't have known.
Dom sighs, shifting slightly down, trying another go at the page he'd marked and just about giving up when a knock on the door brings his eyes up again. Billy stands there, backlit by the hallway, his knocking hand now resting flat against the wood, a smile making his mouth curl.
"Such a romantic," Dom says, shaking his head and moving to return his book to its rightful place on the nightstand as Billy wastes no time diving into bed with him and pulling at his clothes, making it difficult. Dom's joking, of course, but really, Billy's the only person he's ever been able to apply that word to sincerely: romantic. As Billy makes another dive, this time underneath him, all bright eyes and possessive hands, Dom wishes with everything he has that things had turned out differently. He thinks that Billy senses this, too, in the way that he silently opens his knees and offers his body up to him, bulky arms going limp above his head in surrender.
Billy feels the loneliness of his own departure hours before it actually happens, and Dom's sheer silence over breakfast doesn't help. There's guilt in that, too, in even the thought of loneliness, because Billy's going back to a house full of warmth, pictures and mementos, gadgets and toys, and the best kind of laughter in the world. Dom...
Billy reaches across the table, fingers just grazing the edges of a patch of hair sticking up at the side of Dom's head. Dom grabs at Billy's wrist and presses an eggy kiss to the palm of his hand, but his eyes remain on his plate.
They have this, Billy thinks, clinging to him as they embrace in the cul-de-sac outside LAX hours later, burying his face in Dom's neck and inhaling the scent that had lingered on his own skin before the morning's shower, will linger on his fingertips on the plane. They have each other, and it's more than Billy could have ever expected.
"Off to build that bubble now," Dom murmurs, his voice high with mirth and more than a dash of vulnerability.
"It can wait," Billy says, and, in an uncharacteristically bold move, pulls back just enough to kiss him full on the mouth. It's not lewd, but it's certainly not friendly, and it's entirely worth seeing Dom's face burst into a fucking fireball of joy when they pull apart.
Dom ducks his head, smiling and wiping a bit of Billy's saliva from his mouth. "Very romantic." He gives Billy a departing wink before spinning on his heel, totally energized as he makes his way back round to the driver's side of the car (the wrong side, Billy thinks instinctively).
As Billy does the mindless dance of check-in and security, he envisions Dom driving away and along the freeway back home. In the hours and days to come, he'll find other things, living and not, to turn his attentions to, and he'll fill the air around him with them, until next time.