archive: .: marginalia :., Slasha Baby.
notes: set several years out from rings. for elvea87, who asked for billy/dom and a semi-happy ending. whew! now i can go read mine! title from "highway and the moon", by jeffrey foucault. thanks to dorrie6 and starfishchick for dealing with the angst.
His world in December was hushed, and he had not yet become accustomed to it. It was quiet, and he was alone, and he told himself that this was best, that Rings was his past and peaceful comfort was his present.
Yet there were days he would start awake, thinking he had obligations, thinking he had to smile and shake hands and correct reporters who called him Dominic. It was only when he rubbed the sleep from his eyes and breathed slowly that he remembered. He melted back into the mattress and wondered how the cycle became ingrained in a way that years of warm holidays with Gran and Margaret never had.
There was (for a while) a girl beside him when he awoke like this, and she hummed softly and kneaded the knots from his back. She reminded him where he was and wondered why he veered from joy to fear and back again before he returned to her, more fully present in their warm bed.
She was gone now. "You're unreachable," she had said, twisting the glass on the napkin, wet ring tearing the paper.
"I'm sorry," he had said, (because he was) but mostly because he thought he should say something.
"I know," she said. "Be happy," she said. And he stood stock still in the doorway and watched her walk away.
He wondered what happy was, and when exactly he had accepted the banal in its place.
This year he was doing a play through mid-December. It kept his mind busy except for when he slept, when dreams came that he forgot with the rising of the sun, but which left him twisted in the sheets, head pounding.
The play was an odd piece, a challenging work from a new Scottish playwright, and exactly the sort of thing he liked to do in between the films that paid the bills. Midway through the run, Sean and Elijah visited. They attended both the matinee and the evening, and they presented him with notes on his performance, including suggestions to "include more gay bits" and "try doing an act, at least, without pants". "Pants are instant comedy," Elijah said. "And you know Dom would kill us if we came all the way to your god-forsaken country and didn't give you a few pointers."
Billy glanced away for the briefest of moments. Sean, eternally perceptive, caught it and placed his warm hand on Billy's shoulder. "You look like a man in need of a beer. C'mon. Show us where to go."
The pub (dark, warm, and friendly) was just what he needed, Billy thought. They crowded into a booth and ordered up too much heavy food and round after round of drinks. Billy sunk back into the booth, cradled in food and drink and music and companionable laughter. Sean and Elijah traded stories from sets they had worked on, sets they had heard about, and sets they had made up entirely, until finally Billy bowed out of the evening, hoping to escape while he was still content and free from ghosts. He ensured they still had his number, and then stepped into the sobering cold air to hail a taxi.
Snapped free from the comfort of the pub, he leaned back in the taxi and closed his eyes. By the time he reached his flat, paid the driver, and stumbled up the stairs into his chilly rooms, the images were racing before his eyes, a slide show on speed.
He collapsed into bed and prayed they would not follow him into his dreams.
When Sean and Elijah left, so did the brief flash of color (home) they had brought with them. Their departure highlighted the defects of his life more than their presence had. The grey and the quiet were brought into sharp relief. He sang softly to himself, but the notes bounced off the walls, echoing isolation.
He had never noticed before the plainness of his flat, with its stark walls and serviceable furniture. Billy was never much for decorating; it was all he could do to remember the necessities of living. Color and life were found in gaming systems and not much else. He couldn't be bothered.
Before, it was Dom (of course) who had been responsible for the gaudy decorations at Christmas and beyond. In New Zealand, determined to make Billy feel like Christmas (in spite of the backwards weather), Dom descended upon his house with boxes of lights and tacky ornaments. "They were on sale!" he crowed, as he hung snowmen on a plant Miranda had given Billy (but Billy had neglected to water) and arranged angels in obscene positions above the television.
"I can see why," Billy grumbled, but he didn't take them down until April.
Dom's final contribution was a sprig of plastic mistletoe. He hung it above the entrance to the kitchen with the aid of a thumbtack, pulled Billy in by a belt loop, and gave him a sloppy kiss on the cheek. "You owe me a drink now," he said. "This was hard work."
Fleeing memory, he allowed himself to be consumed by the play, thanking the heavens for the exhaustive nature of live performance. Focusing on speaking other people's words and emotions kept him from spending too much time with his own, in the silence of his world and the avoidance of the obvious answer. Because how would he say it? How would he ask?
He stared at his own reflection, tight mouth and bloodshot eyes, watched decision spark detached, as though watching a film of himself. And in the end he didn't need to explain anything.
All he really had to say was, "Come."
"How's the surfing there, again?" Dom asked.
Billy paced, and finally drove to the airport far too early, wandering there just for a change. Security started eyeing him outside of International Arrivals, jittering by the wall, hands jammed in his pockets.
When he saw Dom, laugh lines pronounced around his tired eyes, all was still. Dom dropped his carry-on and reached for him, soft stubble brushing Billy's cheek, bodies strong and tight together, two halves made whole.
Billy was never sure how long they stood there, fitting, breathing, until finally Dom laughed, shaking low, heat through Billy. "C'mon, you wanker. Let's go home."
Billy smiled at Dom (red eyes). Color and sparkle and joy. Now it was Christmas. Now he was home.