[identity profile] nekonexus.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] if_i_trace

Sunday. Last weekend of November.

Rain pouring down; a prelude to winter storms. Almanac said it was going to be a bad one, and Jake was inclined to agree.

The shop was closed, as it usually was on Sundays, and Jake was slumped on his couch, staring at the wash of rain on the window. The stub of a joint, recently crushed out, sat in his ashtray.

He was tired, and horny. Mellow, but not particularly high. And there was no way he was going out in that weather. Not for anything.

The wind gusted and something crashed into the building. He sat up, thought about the sound, and decided it was just a loose tree branch or something. There'd been no sound of glass breaking, at least.

He was half-way back into a slouch when someone knocked on his door.

The upstairs door.

Which meant the crash might have been the downstairs door blowing open and putting a dent in the wall. Again.

He frowned at the door even as he got up and slowly made his way across the room. Sarah would've just called. She was sensible that way. Not that she usually bothered him on a Sunday. So who the hell was it?

The cautious part of his brain pointed out that he shouldn't open the door to find out. Sure, it had been a while since the last round of reporters had tried to dig a story out of him, but still. It'd be a good day to catch him off guard, right?

The mellow part of him didn't really care, and thought he might kind of enjoy slamming a door in a reporter's face. Again.

It wasn't a reporter, though they'd done a good job of making the man on the other side of the door infamous, at least until he'd disappeared a couple months ago. They'd never managed to catch him looking less than stylish, though, so the drowned rat look he was currently sporting was really out of character.

Jake leaned on the edge of the half-open door. "Keiran," he said, his tone not quite making it a question.

"Hello, Jake," Keiran replied softly.

A thin stream of water ran down Keiran's cheek from the bangs plastered to his forehead. Without even thinking about what he was doing, Jake reached out and brushed the water away with his thumb.

Keiran flinched and Jake jerked his hand back. Hard to say which of them was more startled, though, he thought.

"Can I come in?"

A little voice in the back of his head said bad idea, but the pit of his stomach said, oh, hell, yes! Pushing himself off the door, he stepped back and nodded for Keiran to come in. "You're wet," he observed, as Keiran stopped just inside of the door to remove his shoes. "What'd y'do, walk here?"

Keiran laughed softly, a hollow sound without much humour. "No. Well... perhaps you might call it that."

He moved out of the way and Jake closed the door. "You're not makin' much sense," he said, heading back to the couch.

"No, I'm not, am I?" Keiran said quietly. "Nothing has been making much sense these past few weeks."

Jake didn't particularly want to venture an opinion on that. He was about to sit when he realized Keiran was still standing, and dripping, on his rug. "Uh... you wanna maybe borrow a change of clothes, or somethin'?"

Keiran gave him a small, hesitant smile. "I would appreciate that, thank you."

Jake nodded, stepping around the couch to lead the way to the bedroom. "C'mon then."

The other man followed silently.

"Bathroom's over there," Jake said, waving a hand in the general direction. Maybe it was an ensuite, actually. He'd never really stopped to consider it before. Not that he was considering it, really, but the thought popped up while he was digging through his wardrobe for jeans and a clean shirt. He was a little longer in the leg than Keiran, he figured, but the rest ought to --


His brain stalled for a moment as he turned back to face Keiran and found him standing closer than he'd expected. Keiran's fingers were pale against the dark blue of his dress shirt, and he seemed to be taking an awfully long time with each button. He was also shivering slightly.

Hanging the jeans over his arm, Jake muttered, "Here, lemme," and reached out to help with the buttons before that nagging part of his brain caught up with him again.

Keiran edged closer. Raising his arms, he reached up to push his hair back from his face and squeeze water from the ends. When he lowered his arms again, they settled on Jake's shoulders, fingers clasped behind his neck.

He wasn't thinking about what he was doing. He wasn't. 'Cuz if he was... then Keiran was.... Pushing aside Keiran's shirt, Jake let his hands slide across cool skin, not really noticing or caring when the jeans fell to the floor. He really wasn't....

But Keiran stepped closer, tilting his face up to brush his cheek against Jake's, and Jake's hands slid around behind Keiran's back of their own accord, and it felt so good just to hold him like this, even with the tickle of wet hair against his nose.

Maybe he was. Maybe he could be... maybe he could do this, if they took it slow. He'd done a lot of thinking, these past couple months. Hadn't had much else to do, except work. He'd almost figured some things out, at least as they related to Keiran and Tamsin and.... Well. Maybe. His crotch was sure all for it, but it had a mind of its own anyway. It seemed to be hoarding the blood supply, too, leaving Jake's brain a little light and distracted.

Warm breath brushed against his ear -- possibly the only thing about Keiran that was warm at the moment, except... well... could be. Maybe. (Hopefully?) But... finding out would mean he'd have to -- and...

Keiran's lips brushed against his cheek, trailing down towards his lips, and the rational part of Jake's brain made one last desperate attempt to kick some sense into him.

"Don't do this to me," he said, voice rough but not as desperate as it should have been.

And Keiran stopped.

He slipped free of Jake's grasp and was somehow standing out of reach before Jake got his brain back together enough to realize he hadn't meant it. For a moment, it looked like Keiran was going to apologize, but he only shook his head and bent to retrieve the fallen jeans.

"Keiran, I --" What? I'm sorry? I didn't mean it? I want you so bad I can't think?

"It's all right," Keiran said quietly. "I should not have assumed." Brushing past Jake, he headed for the bathroom.

"Keiran," Jake exclaimed, reaching out to catch his arm. "I'm sorry. Look, it's just... I'm not --" Say it! "-- not... gay. At least, I... I don't think... I mean. I...." He stumbled to a halt, face burning hotly, unwilling to let Keiran escape again, but uncertain what to do about it.

Stormy eyes studied him silently for what seemed like far too long. "Does it matter that much?"

"I don't know," Jake said, frustrated in more ways than one. "I just... I didn't even think about it, until..."

Something closed, or iced over, even further in Keiran's expression and he nodded slightly. "Excuse me, then. I should be going." He didn't attempt to pull free, but he did offer the jeans back to Jake.

"No! Damnit. Don't. That's not gonna fix anything." Shoving the clothes away, Jake moved forward, wrapping his arms around Keiran and pulling him close. Keiran didn't resist, but didn't return the embrace either.

"What do you want, Jake?" he asked, his voice muffled by Jake's shoulder.

He couldn't answer. He couldn't.... Had to, if he was going to save this, fix it. Something. Somehow. What did he want? What had he been fantasizing about, all the while pretending he was too stoned to care or to remember? He knew the answer. Knew it bone deep and had since he met Keiran. He was just a liar, to himself, anyway. And scared. Chicken-shit scared of a word and what people thought it meant.

He took a deep breath, smelling rain damp hair and sweat and maybe a little cologne beneath it. "You," he whispered, lips brushing the curve of Keiran's ear. Squeezing his eyes shut, he dragged out the rest of his slow epiphany and voiced it, too. "Doesn't matter... if it's you."

Keiran shifted, melting against him like he belonged there, like they were supposed to fit together, just like this. And this time, when Keiran's lips brushed against his, he let himself go, let himself trust that it was okay.

this is the other half of the household

Date: 2006-11-02 06:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] joey-wheeler.livejournal.com
sorry bout being in the wrong journal.

Of course it would be in the rain: of course, of course, of course it would take them to the brink before Jake can muster up the mind to embrace it. It's how they work. It's...not perfect, obviously, and Steve and Val have their issues too (oh, the sun and skin) and I really love how you managed the time-lapse news coverage in the last chapter, and for all the love you've inspired in me through this journey, this is a satisfying end. thanks, to everyone.

Date: 2006-11-02 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vom-marlowe.livejournal.com
This whole story was gorgeous, and I'm so glad you added the epilogues, the part 32 was so painful to read (in a good way, but still). Very happy reader, here. Really enjoyed this AU.

Date: 2006-11-04 02:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] darkfire-blade.livejournal.com

It's so great. Yes, the news coverage of the whole thing was done very well. It left a lot up to reader imagination didn't it? This AU has been so awesome and engaging. You guys never stop writing ever, well just in general okay?

Great job again!


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