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[NOTA BENE: THIS IS NOT CSI!CANON. This is purely for rachelm's and my personal amusement.]

My flight's late, and I'm not back until midday. His key's in my pocket, but I still think about going back to my own place, sleeping it off. Dealing with it all later. But at the last moment I tell the cab his address.

The concierge must recognise me by now, because I'm not stopped, tired and sweating and disreputable as I am, dragging my suitcase. Look at myself in the mirror in the lift up to the penthouse; I look a wreck. I've lost weight, and my eyes are so sunken they look like pissholes in the snow, dark-shadowed. Managed to shave, but managed to cut myself, too.

So fucking relieved when I get into his place. All I want to do is sleep. Go to the fridge, drink half a litre of water, and then climb the stairs painfully. Pass out full-length on his bed, shoes still on.

Open to Al.

Date: 2010-02-18 08:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
I do not think I've ever smoked as much as I have in this last week, not even in my most hedonistic days. It is what I have done when I have worried about Tez, which has been most of the time. Drinking over it seemed an irony too far.

I have not smoked around Lily, of course, which has made our time together even more uncomfortable, my hands resisting the urge to drum on the table in a desire for nicotene. I will have to cut back, once I know Tez is alright.

I have called him, of course. On a couple of occasions I had to force myself not to take my car to the airport. On a couple of occasions he was merely surly; that I could handle. But a couple of times I do not even think he knew who I was.

Jeanie tells me when his flight comes in - late, of course. I make myself simply nod and return to my work. I finally let myself leave at four, which is ridiculously early as it is. I take several manila files with me, as if I intend to work. I think this is unlikely.

Granger drives me to the penthouse. I have spent a couple of nights here this week. I have claimed it is because I needed to work late and I did not want to disturb Lily, but the truth is that after a week sleeping beside Tez I find falling asleep with Lily makes me feel - guilty. I have to laugh at myself, because I am not entirely sure whether it is Tez or Lily I feel guilty over.

This is all very fucked up.

I see his bag when I open the door, and my throat constricts briefly. I walk quietly upstairs, and he is asleep across the bed. He looks dreadful.

I sit down in a chair on the other side of the room and wait for him to wake up.

Date: 2010-02-18 08:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
Wake up with the feeling that someone's watching me. Put it down to more detox paranoia until I open my eyes, and find that he is.

"Hey." My voice is a bit hoarse, my throat still dry from the plane's canned air. "You look better than I feel."

Sit up a bit in the bed. "And I'm pretty sure you're not a hallucination this time." Crooked sort of a grin.

Date: 2010-02-18 08:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
He wakes up after a little while, slowly stirring. His voice is hoarse.

"You look better than I feel."

"I would be hard pressed," I say dryly, "to look worse."

"And I'm pretty sure you're not a hallucination this time."

"Did you hallucinate about me?" I say. I come over to the bed and sit down next to him. "How flattering. Unless, of course, I was the Devil again."

I look at him, taking in the exhaustion written into his face, the way his clothes are hanging off him, the faint sick-sweet smell of the sweat of illness coming from his clothes.

"I'm glad you are back," I say, more matter-of-fact than sentimental. I put a hand out to smooth his hair. "Was it worse than you expected?" These things often are.

Date: 2010-02-18 08:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
"I would be hard pressed to look worse."

Snarky bastard. It's oddly comforting, though. He strokes my hair down, and though my head aches, I don't shrug him off. "Was it worse than you expected?"

Think about that. "As bad as I expected," I say, eventually, "and worse than I imagined. I only hallucinated you a couple of times," I add, "lecturing me about what a fucking idiot I am. Mostly it was things crawling in the wallpaper and that fucking radio. Do you know how much I hate country music?"

Date: 2010-02-18 08:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"I only hallucinated you a couple of times, lecturing me about what a fucking idiot I am. Mostly it was things crawling in the wallpaper and that fucking radio. Do you know how much I hate country music?"

"Oh, I think I did lecture you a couple of times," I say. "On the phone. But I don't think you knew who I was at the time, so it's a moot point." I shrug off my jacket and kick off my shoes, then loosen my tie. That feels better.

"I suppose," I add, "country music might not be the best choice. On the one hand it has the appropriate note of self-pity, but on the other hand it's either about drinking or fucking." Neither of which, given the circumstances, I imagine Tez wanted to think about. "Is the apartment sorted?" I ask, when what I really mean was how terrible was it, sorting through his things?

Date: 2010-02-18 09:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
I suppose country music might not be the best choice. On the one hand it has the appropriate note of self-pity, but on the other hand it's either about drinking or fucking."

"Didn't exactly have a lot of choice, did I?" Strange to see him in a business suit again. Makes him look like the old Al Shairan, the one from - before. "Radio was stuck. Not to mention kept playing when I turned it off, or I thought it did."

"Is the apartment sorted?" He says it almost carefully.

"Pretty much empty. I told the super to ditch anything that was left." Laugh a bit, at the memory: "I burned -- some of it, outside in a trashcan. She loved that." The bedsheets, and the magazines. Made me feel better.

"Jesus," I add, tiredly, "wish I could have a fucking drink. That flight was murder."

Date: 2010-02-18 09:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"Radio was stuck. Not to mention kept playing when I turned it off, or I thought it did."

I raise my eyebrows mildly, but decide it is prudent not to say anything in response.

"Pretty much empty. I told the super to ditch anything that was left. I burned -- some of it, outside in a trashcan. She loved that."

"Good," I say. My tone is quite cold. If there is a hell - and I think that there probably is - I hope Tez's brother is there. Although that might mean I will end up sharing eternity with him, given my past conduct. A sobering thought.

"Jesus, wish I could have a fucking drink. That flight was murder."

I lean in and kiss his forehead.

"You should have a shower," I say. "It will help. Or at least get out of those clothes." I take my tie off and unfasten the top button of my shirt, feeling myself relax.

"I've been using your cigarette case," I say, and then stop, because really, I am not sure where I am going with that.

Date: 2010-02-18 09:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
"Good."

"I slept on the couch," I say, inconsequentially, as if it'll mean something to him. Must be pretty out of it from the flight.

He kisses my forehead, and I think that there were times, in the last week, when I'd probably've broken down and cried if he'd been there and done that. Thank fuck I didn't let him come with me. Tells me to shower, and I toe off my shoes, feel my aching foot and the ache where the other was. Haven't had that in a while.

"I've been using your cigarette case."

Feel my face soften a bit, despite myself. "Yeah? Just wish I could've got you something better. Saves you from keeping your cigarettes in their case like the rest of us plebs, though." Wish I could manage not to bitch at him when I'm moved. Think he understands, though.

Date: 2010-02-18 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"Yeah? Just wish I could've got you something better. Saves you from keeping your cigarettes in their case like the rest of us plebs, though."

I smile.

"Cartons ruin the line of one's suit," I chide.

I start unbuttoning his shirt - not in a sexual way, because frankly he looks like death warmed up. But there is something pleasingly familiar in the movement, fingers sliding the buttons out.

"There should be a spare robe in the bathroom," I say, and pause. "I had my PA buy you - some things. To leave here." I clear my throat. "I thought it would be convenient for you." It is nothing very much - toothbrush and razor and boxers, things of that sort. But I have never let anyone leave anything here before, never mind encouraged it.

Date: 2010-02-19 12:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
He starts to take my shirt off me, firm and practical. "There should be a spare robe in the bathroom. I had my PA buy you - some things. To leave here. I thought it would be convenient for you."

He clears his throat, one of those rare moments of awkwardness, and I feel a rush of affection for him. "Thanks," I say. "Everything in my case's filthy." Washed some of it in the sink, because it really needed it, after some of the effects detoxing had on me. Hardly going to mention that now, though.

"Not sure I can manage a shower yet, though - leg's fucking killing me." Gets easier and easier to admit it to him. "Those airline seats - not room for a fucking kid to fit their legs in."

Sinks in, what he said about keeping stuff here. Makes it - makes it feel like I belong, makes this feel almost like coming home. "You - you been ok, while I've been - gone?" Stupid sort of a question, really. Don't want to admit to how much I've missed him, which given the time we spent together is fucking absurd.

Date: 2010-02-19 12:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"Not sure I can manage a shower yet, though - leg's fucking killing me."

I nod. I would suggest a bath, but of course the last time I did that Tez ended up revealing his incestuous past, which is hardly the ideal memory to bring up at this juncture.

"Take it off," I say. It's hardly as if I mind.

"You - you been ok, while I've been - gone?"

I think.

"That depends," I say after a moment, "on what one means by ok." I put my hand against his bare chest. I can feel his heart beating. "You're to blame for me developing a sudden and alarming pack-a-day habit," I say, with a trace of a smile.

Date: 2010-02-19 12:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
"Take it off." Normally I'd suggest he just wants to get me naked, but I reckon I look foul enough that he wouldn't. Kick off my jeans anyway and take the damn thing off, flex my knee.

He rests his hand against my chest, his palm warm. "That depends on what one means by ok. You're to blame for me developing a sudden and alarming pack-a-day habit."

Try to keep my tone light. "Seem to remember swearing down the phone at you that it was all your fucking fault, before I dropped the damn thing to throw up, so it only seems fair." Put my hand over his, holding it against my chest, and think, What the fuck are we going to do?

"...Sorry I worried you," I manage, eventually. Never been good at apologising, not when I'm sober. Mind you, this is the longest I've been sober in a long time.

Date: 2010-02-19 12:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"Seem to remember swearing down the phone at you that it was all your fucking fault, before I dropped the damn thing to throw up, so it only seems fair."

"Which of the several times you said that would that be?" I say with a little smile. I knew Tez would say that sort of thing; I was surprised it was not worse, under the circumstances. So I did not take it to heart.

Much.

He puts his hand over mine, and is silent for a long while.

"...Sorry I worried you."

I shrug with one shoulder, and I lean in and kiss him. It strikes me that I have not often kissed him without tasting alcohol on his mouth.

"Never mind that." I lie back on the bed next to him, run my hand thoughtfully from his chest down to his stomach, resting it above the waistband of his shorts. This is also strange, for me to be dressed when Tez is not. But it is not uncomfortable.

"I love you," I say conversationally. It seems worth mentioning, given that the past week he may have been too crazy to remember it. I wonder if he feels any differently now he is sober. Alcohol changes many things. "Are you glad you went? To Mexico City, I mean. In the end."

Date: 2010-02-19 01:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
It's comfortably familiar, us lying together. Close my eyes for a moment, and let myself imagine we never left. His hand's warm on my stomach. Wonder if it feels different, with the weight I've lost. Wasn't much to spare anyway.

Up here I can't even hear the sound of the traffic, to imagine it's the sea.

"I love you," he says, matter-of-factly, and I open my eyes again. It's stranger, somehow, to hear him say it here. Puerto Angel seems a very long way away. "Are you glad you went? To Mexico City, I mean. In the end."

"I..." I haven't really thought about it in those terms. "I needed to. Both the stopping drinking, and the rest. I wouldn't say glad."

Twist a bit to look at him. "I'm glad you didn't come. I - wouldn't've wanted you to see me like that. Really. It wasn't pretty." No one needs his lover to see him convulsing and shitting himself.

"Oh," I add, wondering if maybe he wanted reassurance. "I love you too, by the way."

Date: 2010-02-19 10:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"I needed to. Both the stopping drinking, and the rest. I wouldn't say glad."

I nod.

"I understand, I think. Sometimes things become - necessary." This past week, worrying about Tez, I have started to wonder what other necessary things I am moving toward.

"I'm glad you didn't come. I - wouldn't've wanted you to see me like that. Really. It wasn't pretty."

I raise my eyebrows.

"I never expected it to be pretty." I take out my cigarette case, thinking of lighting one, and then think better of it and put them on the side. "I'm sure I wouldn't have enjoyed seeing you puking and shitting and raving, but -" Everything I want to say sounds weak. "I would have been there, if you had wanted."

"I love you too, by the way."

I smile a little at his tone.

"I am going to get changed, and make tea. You should drink some." Better for him than coffee, I think. I shed my shirt and pants, and find a thawb. It is relaxing not to wear pants after a day in the office. I go downstairs and brew cardamom tea. I bring it upstairs in a pot with two glasses. I add sugar to Tez's, because he looks like he needs it.

"My mother used to make me drink tea constantly if I was sick," I say. "It's the Iranian cure for everything, along with sugar, so the two in combination are perfect." I smile and pass him the glass.

Date: 2010-02-19 12:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
I watch him make as if to light up then stop himself. It's the sort of abortive little gesture that's becoming familiar to me. Too often, already, my hand reaches for a glass that isn't there.

"I never expected it to be pretty. I'm sure I wouldn't have enjoyed seeing you puking and shitting and raving, but - I would have been there, if you wanted."

My smile's a bit tight. The emotion in all this feels too raw, without the comfort of alcohol. Guess I'm going to have to learn to live with this, feeling like I'm living without my skin. "Do have some pride, you know." He doesn't have much reason to think so, to be fair, given how this started between us. "But - thanks, Al. Really."

He comes back wearing one of his long loose garments - suppose I should start learning what they actually are, now, and something about his culture, which is a daunting sort of thought - and serves me tea in a glass, rather than a cup. It's strong and sweet and spicy, more pleasant than I expected from the smell.

"My mother used to make me drink tea constantly if I was sick. It's the Iranian cure for everything, along with sugar, so the two in combination are perfect." It's getting easier to imagine him as a sick child, with a mother feeding him tea.

"I'd've expected mint, somehow." It's what everyone associates with Arabic countries, isn't it? Shrug a bit at my own ignorance. "I - don't know much about it. Iran, I mean." He's seen my homeland, for all Puerto Angel's hardly like where I grew up. Don't suppose I'll ever see his.

"How's things been here?" I want to ask about Lily, but I'm not going to. "All quiet?"

--strange to think how easily we could've ended up on different sides of the law. If I'd dropped out of school, ended up working for the cartels of the eighties and nineties like some of the boys I grew up with - if his love affair hadn't ended disastrously, he'd gone on studying.... Hard to imagine him as some mild-mannered literature professor, though. Suppose he might have ended up in purely legitimate business.

My mind's wandering a lot at the moment. Press my aching eyes and sip the tea again. It helps the churning in my stomach. "This stuff's not bad," I add.

Date: 2010-02-19 01:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"Do have some pride, you know." His smile is tight, and so I think it best to say nothing, merely nod.

"I'd've expected mint, somehow. I - don't know much about it. Iran, I mean."

I sip my own tea.

"Mint tea is more western Arabian, or North African," I say. "And very few people here know anything about Iran," I add. "It is far larger than people seem to realise - we are not some piddling Gulf state," I add with a sniff I learned from my mother when talking about our less illustrious neighbouring nations. "Everyone thinks it is all desert, but to the north there are rainforests... In Golestan there are thick woods and the air shimmers with wet heat." I smile a little. "Though we have our share of sand in the rest of the country, and the other things you would expect. Guns. Executions." I pause, holding my glass in my hands. "I don't think I'll ever live there again, although I shall visit. So much of what Iran has become goes against how I would live my life. But sometimes I miss the place like a bruise beneath my ribs." I smile a little. "I sound quite fanciful, no doubt."

How's things been here? All quiet?"

I nod.

"More or less. I have been busy in the office - with much legitimate business, you will be glad to know." Not that I really think of there being a distinction between the aspects of my work, but I know it matters to Tez. "Will you be returning to work soon?"

Date: 2010-02-19 01:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
"But sometimes I miss the place like a bruise beneath my ribs. I sound quite fanciful, no doubt."

I like it when he talks like that. The air shimmers with wet heat. And going back to Mexico City - well, I don't think going home, for a reason. Too familiar, too easy to forget the intervening years. I'm not an exile, but I think in a way he'll always be one, in his heart.

"Not fanciful." I think of his shelves of poetry downstairs, and how he's not afraid of beauty. I envy that, I think.

"Will you be returning to work soon?"

I groan and lean back against the pillows of the bed. "Tomorrow. It was all I could get off. 'S going to be fucking murder, Al." Not just because I'm exhausted - the office routine'll probably be reassuring, after the past week. But being trapped behind a desk again after the week before that.... Suppose anyone feels the same, coming back from a holiday.

"Don't know what I'm going to do with the rest of my time," I add doubtfully. "After work, I mean. Normally I'd head to the Whitechapel, but - no." Laugh a bit, awkwardly. "Need a hobby, maybe. Besides teaching Danika to cook."

Date: 2010-02-19 02:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"Tomorrow. It was all I could get off. 'S going to be fucking murder, Al."

He lies back. I stroke my fingers through his hair. It has become an easy sort of gesture, almost habit.

"Maybe I should show up at your desk. Add some variety to your day." I grin, because we both know that what I would be adding would be far more than variety. The whole place would be in uproar.

"Need a hobby, maybe. Besides teaching Danika to cook."

"I hear knitting is fashionable these days," I say, eyebrow quirking. "I spoke to Danika a few days ago," I say, not that he has asked about her. "Her sixteen week scan is next week." I pause. "She and Lily have very close due dates," I add. "Which is a strange thought."

Date: 2010-02-19 04:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
Lean into his stroking hand, until the ache in my head backs off a bit. "Maybe I should show up at your desk. Add some variety to your day."

Match his grin. "At it? Or under it? Either way, at least I wouldn't have to go in the next day."

Give him the finger when he makes a crack about knitting, but cheerfully. Fucker.

"I spoke to Danika a few days ago. Her sixteen week scan is next week. She and Lily have very close due dates. Which is a strange thought."

"I need to call her. Danika, not Lily." That'd be a conversation and a half. "You do know I don't know what the fuck a sixteen week scan is? Or any of this baby stuff, for that matter. Maybe I should get a book or something. Or just use you," poke his thigh with one finger, "as a consultant. You've done this before."

Fucking terrifying, all of it, if I let myself think about it too much. Fatherhood. Jesus.

Date: 2010-02-19 04:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"At it? Or under it? Either way, at least I wouldn't have to go in the next day."

I raise an eyebrow.

"My dear Tez, are you suggesting I might commit some kind of... workplace indecency?" I grin at him. It's not as exciting an idea as our work-related roleplay of a couple of weeks ago, but it has a certain charm. And for the first time today I find myself thinking about sex.

"I need to call her. Danika, not Lily. You do know I don't know what the fuck a sixteen week scan is? Or any of this baby stuff, for that matter. Maybe I should get a book or something. Or just use you as a consultant. You've done this before."

"Oh yes," I say. "Advise you on how to be a father to my great-niece. This isn't a peculiar situation at all." But there is no malice in my tone. Any jealousy I felt about Danika seems to have gone. I am more concerned about how becoming a father again myself will affect all - this. "The sixteen week scan's quite standard, in the US at least... Sometimes you can tell the baby's sex, though that's easier a bit later." I wonder if he has a preference. "Lily said she didn't want to know," I add, "and I can't read sonograms well enough to tell." It feels strange, mentioning Lily to him. "When was the last time you ate?" I ask by way of distraction.

Date: 2010-02-19 06:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
"My dear Tez, are you suggesting I might commit some kind of... workplace indecency?"

Snort a bit. "I know for a fact that's not the worst thing you've done." Got that to deal with too. Too fucking tired now.

"Oh yes. Advise you on how to be a father to my great-niece. This isn't a peculiar situation at all." Be far too sentimental to let him know I kind of like the fact that it'll be related to him as well as me, so I keep quiet and let him talk.

--she might know the baby's sex soon? Fucking hell. Used to think of it as - well, an it. Not really a person. "I--" Fuck, this is getting real. "I had no idea they could tell that kind of thing this early."

"When was the last time you ate?"

I think back. "I'm...not sure. They gave us some kind of snack on the plane...couldn't decide if it was meant to be a muffin or a biscuit or what. Decided discretion was the better part of valor." Even looking at it made me queasy.

Date: 2010-02-19 06:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"I know for a fact that's not the worst thing you've done."

I decide Tez and I are probably not at a stage in our relationship where we can joke about gangland executions, so I just raise my eyebrow.

When I discuss Danika's pregnancy, Tez gets a look on his face that expresses quite neatly the phrase this shit just got real.

"I had no idea they could tell that kind of thing this early."

"The miracles of modern science," I note dryly. "You should go with Danika," I say. "She asked how you were. I lied," I say. Telling my pregnant niece that her ex-boyfriend was vomiting his guts out in Mexico City did not seem a good idea. "She'll be proud of you," I add. "About the drinking." I suppose I am as well, but there does not seem a good way to say that without appearing patronising.

"I'm...not sure. They gave us some kind of snack on the plane...couldn't decide if it was meant to be a muffin or a biscuit or what. Decided discretion was the better part of valor."

I snort.

"You should eat. You have got terribly thin, and whilst I like slim men, I have no use for you if your muscles have wasted away," I say airily. "Is there anything you could manage? I can always call for something." I have become practically solicitious. There is something oddly satisfying in taking care of Tez.

Date: 2010-02-19 07:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
Feels odd to have him talking about Danika. Family, I think, experimentally. Not something I'm used to. And I guess Al's kids'll be family too, sort of. (Shit, does that mean Lily is, too?) Never met his existing kid, of course. Fiona. Wonder which of them picked out that name - her, probably. Would've thought he'd pick something Iranian. Persian? Whatever.

He teases me about my weight, and I grin. "Is there anything you could manage? I can always call for something."

Think I like having him look after me, though I won't admit it. "Could fucking murder Chinese food, if there's anywhere that deliver." My stomach growls in agreement, and I sip more of the tea to shut it up. "The cheaper and greasier the better," I add.

Date: 2010-02-19 07:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"Could fucking murder Chinese food, if there's anywhere that deliver. The cheaper and greasier the better."

"I have no idea where to get cheap Chinese," I say. I've eaten at Wai Ching's, but that is quite upscale. "I'll ask Jeanie." I lean out over the bed and pick up my jacket, find my cell phone. A brief conversation follows. I laugh and hang up.

"Jeanie refuses to order any - how did she put it - lao wai MSG shit. But she has said she can order you grease. It should be here in about thirty minutes." I lean in and kiss him. "You taste of cardamom," I observe. It is different from whisky, but there's a pleasure in tasting the familiar and comforting tea of my childhood on his lips.

Date: 2010-02-19 07:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
No idea what lao wai is, but, "But I like MSG!" I protest. "It's the point of the exercise!" Suspect whatever shows up'll be good, though, and he shuts me up by kissing me.

"You taste of cardamom."

"No one's ever said that to me before," I say, and catch the back of his neck so that I can kiss him again. This is far too comfortable - far too much like Puerto Angel. Worry about it when I've eaten and slept more.

"Must be nice," I add after a moment, "to have someone to run round after you like that. How the other half live."

Date: 2010-02-19 08:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"No one's ever said that to me before," he says, and I laugh.

"I am a master of pick up lines, don't you know?"

I feel myself stirring a little as he kisses me again. Not with any great need - just a warm sort of interest that is almost relaxing.

"Must be nice to have someone to run round after you like that. How the other half live."

I shrug.

"It's useful. I pay her very well for it, too. She's clever; I think one day she'll have a PA of her own." I stretch out my legs. "But yes, I am aware of my privilege, though at least I've made a lot of my own fortune."

Date: 2010-02-19 08:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
"But yes, I am aware of my privilege, though at least I've made a lot of my own fortune."

"Your parents weren't wealthy?" I'd gotten the impression they were - pool boy and everything. I've finished the tea and

--fuck I want a drink --

clench my hands together around the glass. Sudden memory of picking glass out of his palm, the look on his face. Was he really so worried about me, when I was gone? "...I missed you." It slips out before I realise.

Date: 2010-02-20 02:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"Your parents weren't wealthy?"

I give him an amused look.

"I take your point. But my father came from nothing. And I have made the Shairan empire far greater than he ever could." I say it with some satisfaction.

A look passes across his face, and his knuckles are white against the tea glass.

"...I missed you."

I smile at that, not having expected him to say it.

"I'm glad," I say quietly. "I... have thought about you a great deal this week. And about our trip," I add, smile creeping back up, and I run my hand over his thigh.

Date: 2010-02-20 02:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
His work's important to him. I understand that - mine was, once - but I wish...never mind what I wish.

"I'm glad. I...have thought about you a great deal this week. And about our trip."

His hand's on his leg, and between that and memories of the holiday ("Sorry, officer. Looks like it's not your fucking day.") I feel my dick stir. Thought, the lat week, that I might never be interested in sex again.

"Really, now." Look at his smile, and find myself smiling too. "And what were you thinking about me?"

Date: 2010-02-20 02:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"Really, now. And what were you thinking about me?"

His tone is teasing, and I find my smile mirroring his.

"Well, I have certainly run through Your Guide to Roleplay with Guns a time or two," I say, tone light, hand skimming further up his leg. "But also. You know. Things that are far too sentimental to list." How he looks when he is asleep; the way his face shifts when he laughs. "I missed waking up next to you," I admit, not quite meeting his eyes. It is strange to be shy about it, given he knows I love him. But it is a vulnerable feeling all the same. "I... sleep well, with you."

Date: 2010-02-20 02:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
"Well, I have certainly run through Your Guide to Roleplay with Guns a time or two."

I laugh at that, properly, as he moves his hand - not just a snort, but full laughter. It feels good, though it makes my aching stomach muscles hurt.

"If anyone owns that, Al, it's you. Or you should write it. Since you don't seem to be short of ideas. And you know I'm - open to suggestions." Yawn hugely, and add, "When I'm more awake, at least. Suspect anything too creative's beyond me right now."

"But also. You know. Things that are far too sentimental to list. I missed waking up next to you. I...sleep well, with you."

Used to it being me who can't look at him. I fold my hand round his, where it rests on my thigh. "I did, too." He had Lily to wake up with at least, and that stings. But is he saying, then, that he doesn't sleep well with her? Can't let myself thing about that sort of thing, or I'll go crazy.

I've missed him, too, when I've been aware. Missed the presence of him in bed with me at night, when I was on that fucking torture device of a sofa in Quet's flat. Don't think I'd be good at putting it into words, so I pick up his hand and kiss his knuckles instead. "Thank you for giving me the key," I say, quietly. "It was...good, to be able to come here."

Date: 2010-02-20 02:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"And you know I'm - open to suggestions."

I grin widely at that, twitching my eyebrows at him.

"From what I recall you are a fast learner."

"When I'm more awake, at least. Suspect anything too creative's beyond me right now."

I snort.

"I hardly expected that today would result in violently exciting fucking. I am a patient man," I say, and add teasingly: "I can give you until tomorrow to break out the cuffs."

He kisses the back of my hand, and my throat tightens.

"Thank you for giving me the key. It was...good, to be able to come here."

"I am glad," I say, "to have had you to come - back to." I almost said home. I pause, looking at our hands together. "I don't know how to be, when I'm with Lily, now," I admit. It makes me feel a pang of guilt to be telling him this, like I am betraying her again. But he has trusted me so much. "It's not like this."

Date: 2010-02-20 03:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
"I hardly expected that today would result in violently exciting fucking. I am a patient man. I can give you until tomorrow to break out the cuffs." Smiling eases the strain. I wish I could find the moment that he started to make me smile, rather than making me angry all the time. I might understand it all better, then.

He turns serious, though, looking at our hands rather than at my face again. "I don't know how to be, when I'm with Lily, now. It's not like this."

I don't know what the jolt of feeling in me is. I should be satisfied, probably, but I know he loves her. Don't fucking care about her, but. But.

Think about what he's said - is it because she's a woman? Because this is new, exciting? "Is it...you've been together a long time," I offer cautiously.

"I'm sorry," I say, after a moment longer. "I didn't - I never intended to fuck with your marriage, Al." Might have, if it'd occured to me at the start.

Date: 2010-02-20 03:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"Is it...you've been together a long time," he says, and I give him a wry look.

"And I've been fucking men throughout my marriage," I say. "Quite a lot of them. It never - " I run my hand through my hair, exasperated because I cannot quite put my finger on what I want to say.

"I didn't - I never intended to fuck with your marriage, Al."

"I never expected to love you," I say, "so I suppose we are equally to blame." I reflect that Danika loves him, too. You would not necessarily look at Tez and assume he would be capturing hearts. The thought makes me smile slightly. "It's not just you," I say after a moment. "I think... Part of the reason I was able to - fall in love with you was -" I break off. "She's not well, you know," I say quietly. "I think the pregnancy is making her more unstable. She had a terrible childhood; I will not tell you why, for it's not my secret to give, but it was bad. I think part of me loved her because she was damaged; because she needed me to love her." I laugh. "That sounds cruel, does it not? I fell in love with her for many other things. But she's always needed me to look after her. Lately, though, I have started to wonder if what she really feels for me is love." I look away. "I'm sorry," I say, after a moment. "This isn't yours to bear."

Date: 2010-02-20 04:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
Not sure if it's to my credit or not that when he tells me about Lily, my first thought's professional: oh, fuck, Lily Shairan's losing it. Shit.

"I think part of me loved her because she was damaged; because she needed me to love her. That sounds cruel, does it not? I fell in love with her for many other things. But she's always needed me to look after her."

I think about Danika. Don't think she had a terrible childhood, but I remember her curling up trustingly in the curve of my arm, and think how easy it would be to love someone because they seemed to need you.

I'm about to say that when he adds, "Lately, though, I have started to wonder if what she really feels for me is love. I'm sorry. This isn't yours to bear."

My chest tightens. Even when Syl and I broke up, I didn't question that she had loved me. Not enough, perhaps, and not for long enough, but I never doubted it was love.

"It is." I look at him. "Mine to bear, I mean. Now. Isn't it?" If it's his.

Date: 2010-02-20 04:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"It is. Mine to bear, I mean. Now. Isn't it?"

I think if I were more tired, or my mood more raw, that could make me weep. I am a fool. But it has been a long time since I felt anything of mine was anyone else's to bear. It has been months since I felt I could rely on Lily. Not since Thiess, I think. Or maybe even before.

"That's not for me to say," I reply, quietly. I fish out my cigarette case and light a cigarette to give my hands something to do, and I offer him one automatically. "But if it is, I am sorry for it. You have enough to worry about." I exhale smoke.

"I think, though," I say, "there have been problems for a long time. I think - this - has let me feel the lack."

Date: 2010-02-20 04:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
I light up the cigarette he gives me. The nicotene helps the pressure behind my eyes, the craving. I shake my head when he apologises, rejecting it, but say nothing.

"I think, though, there have been problems for a long time. I think - this - has let me feel the lack."

Can't apologise to him again, so I don't say anything. Hard way to live, with that sort of doubt. Wonder how much of it's true, if it's some kind of paranoia. If he's delusional. Wonder as well which of us it's worse for, me in an empty bed and him with his wife.

Both knew we couldn't have much, though.

"Will you - " I reach for something he might do. He won't divorce her, I know, and I can't imagine that he'll ask. Too much pride, to ask her if she loves him. Understand that. "What will you do?"

Date: 2010-02-20 08:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"What will you do?"

I look at the smoke rising from my cigarette. The light in the room has begun to dim, the sky outside the windows moving toward sunset.

"For now, I will be what I should be, which is a supportive husband and father to be," I say quietly. "I owe her that. Later..." I stub out my cigarette. I have not yet decided what I want, and it is not a decision to be made in weeks. "I shouldn't talk to you about her," I say. "It is - unkind to you both."

The intercom buzzes, and I lift the phone next to the bed.

"Yes, send it up," I say. "Food," I explain.

Date: 2010-02-20 09:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
I wonder again if what's happened between us's put me in danger from Lily Shairan. Not something I particularly want to dwell on.

"I shouldn't talk to you about her. It is - unkind to you both."

Shrug one-shouldered. "I don't mind. If you want to talk. You know. I'll listen." I almost prefer him to, I think - I prefer to know. And I'm not personally inclined to give a fuck if it's unkind to her.

The food's brought up and Al gos to open the door to them, strong smell of ginger and garlic. "Jesus christ I'm starving." Look around automatically for my drink, and cover for it, even though no one can see, by lighting another cigarette from the stub of the first. Wait until the door closes again and call down, a bit awkwardly, "...could you bring it up? My leg..." I don't really wan't to put the fucking thing back on right now.

Date: 2010-02-20 09:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"I don't mind. If you want to talk. You know. I'll listen."

"It's too easy for me to talk to you," I say, and slide off the bed so I can get the food. I open the door and collect it, give the boy a tip - Jeanie has taken care of payment, of course - and Tez calls down:

"...could you bring it up? My leg..."

"I was going to," I call back, shaking my head slightly. Did he think I expected him to strap his leg back on? For a proper meal, perhaps. Not for whatever is leaching grease in the cartons in this bag. I will admit it does smell quite palatable.

I come back upstairs.

"I think this will contain fat and salt even for you," I observe. I hand him a glass of water. "And drink that." I take the lid off a few things. It is not as if I have never eaten Chinese food - Jeanie brings in tupperware full of it, for one thing - but I have no idea what most of this is called. I pick up a dumpling with my fingers and eat it, and toss Tez a pair of chopsticks from out of the bag.

Date: 2010-02-20 09:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tezcatl-ipoca.livejournal.com
It's what I'd think of as proper Chinese food, which is to say not really Chinese at all - General Tsao's chicken, crab rangoon, fried rice, chop suey. Al's looking at it a bit warily, which makes me grin around a mouthful.

"Trust me, it's good. You're not going to spurn the food of my people, are you?" Wait until the eyebrow twitches up a little, and add, "Cops, I mean, and other poor bastards who work too late and earn too little."

It's not the same without at least a beer. Swallow down half the water he gave me in one go and start determinedly on the garlicky chicken. Goddamnit.

Date: 2010-02-20 10:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] al-shairan.livejournal.com
"Trust me, it's good. You're not going to spurn the food of my people, are you? Cops, I mean, and other poor bastards who work too late and earn too little."

I laugh at him.

"So far you have rejected mine, although I think that is because you have not yet had a good khoresht. But very well, I will eat some."

I do, and it is quite good, even though I can feel my arteries contract. There is something very strange about sitting here, on my bed, eating from paper cartons with Tez. Mostly because it does not feel unnatural at all.

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