<strong>Saturday, 6:56 a.m.</strong>
Sean grumbles into wakefulness. He's never been big on mornings, and he'd hoped for a longer rest. League finals to decide who plays in the championship match next Saturday are this afternoon, and he'd rather gut himself with a plastic knife than let his team mates down. Whether they win or lose... no, he doesn't even want to think about losing, because that's how it starts. Sean rolls onto his back, stretches one arm out to the side. This is a big bed in a big house. Viggo would fit just fine in this bed. If Sean could find him.
Viggo tosses down his brush, rubs at his chin. He stares at the canvas, grimacing at the fresh paint. This isn't working. He'll end up white-washing the canvas so that he can re-use it, or maybe he'll just chuck it and start fresh.
He huffs distractedly. Start fresh. That's what he thought he'd done seven years ago when he'd moved — when Marton and Ian had moved him — to Saint Arquette. Apparently it wasn't far enough. Nor long enough. Jesus, why should Michael come after him after all this time? Viggo wonders with a shudder how many men — and how young they may have been — Michael might have broken between the night he left and now. Is that why Michael keeps coming around? Because he hasn't been able to find a replacement? All of this week Viggo's been skulking around campus like a fugitive, because he can feel Michael's presence. Hasn't seen him, has managed to avoid him so far, but this can't keep up. Christ, what if he finds out where Viggo lives, and comes after him when he's alone in this house, with no one but a three-legged collie to stand by him?
He unfolds himself from his perch and stands in front of the window, staring out into a modest back yard that he pays a student to keep mowed and reasonably weed-free. This afternoon Viggo will go down to the public field near the harbor to watch Sean play soccer. Again, he won't let Sean see him there. He'll find some way to hang back, be invisible. What would Sean think of him, slinking around campus day after day to avoid a confrontation? God, what a coward he's become. It's the old habit all over again, letting Michael maneuver him, get into his head, and he hates it.
Viggo closes his eyes on his anger, pulls up the memory of the way Sean looks and smells; his cologne, those odd cigarettes he smokes that smell like pipe tobacco. Viggo admits he doesn't know Sean well, except that he's intelligent and funny — even when he doesn't mean to be. He appreciates the work that goes into art... Viggo stops himself, realizing that he's making a list of all of Sean's details, when the heart of the matter is that Sean is real, and beautiful, and he's seen Viggo at just about his worst and been there when he needed him. Viggo remembers, his heart speeding up, and the memory settling warm and low in his belly. There was that moment, when Michael had gone away and it was just Sean and Viggo, and he could see the decision flicker in Sean's eyes, weighed in an instant. Sean could have had Viggo then, might have done anything to him and Viggo would have allowed it at that moment, but he would have resented it later, and Sean held himself back, and that leads Viggo around to the other night at the mansion when he realized that it's the trust he's always been after — someone strong enough to cherish rather than to take advantage of the infinite trust that Viggo offers when he feels the need to be nothing of his own — and just now it occurs to Viggo that he knows Sean well enough after all.
Viggo has thought about Sean for months, been infatuated with him for weeks, but glimmering infatuation has sloughed off to reveal something made of sterner stuff, and he knows for certain now that he wants Sean, wants him whole. Sean is a dangerous man, that's a fact, but Viggo does not fear him, if for no other reason than his own conviction that Sean does not <em>want</em> Viggo to fear him. Viggo could, he believes, build something good with the dark as well as the bright side of Sean. He has one last session with Dave coming up. He's got mixed feelings about that now. On the one hand, he adores and admires Dave, and he's going to miss the adventure, and all that Dave's been teaching him, and most of all, Dave's endless affection, but he is confident that their friendship will hold over the long run, and he's reached a point now where he has become eager to reach and explore on his own. Viggo won't make his presence known to Sean today at the match. He'll keep a low profile, as he's always done, but after his final play session with Dave this Thursday he's going to start making plans.
He's still got Michael to deal with. The frightening truth is that if the two of them meet again Viggo doesn't know what will happen, but he can't keep hiding from Michael forever, nor does he wish to. Perhaps there are words, after all, that need to be spoken between the two of them. Maybe, after seven years, there is a line that finally needs to be drawn.
Dave's day started out well enough, but somehow it deteriorated from an ambitious morning finishing off the final resin coat of a beautiful longboard he's been working on all week — turquoise, with a flamed edge and a deep, red fin — to a bleak afternoon of watching adventure movies, trying to cheer up a sudden, severe downturn in his mood. Tea didn't help. Beer didn't help. Pizza didn't help. Oh, it was delicious, and the delivery boy was absolutely edible, and on any other day Dave likely would have got quite a kick out of the young fella's goggle-eyed, if ingenuous flirting, even if the kid was too young for him. And not Karl. That was the problem there, wasn't it. Not Karl.
So Dave's sitting here in his living room, his coffee table scattered with empty beer bottles, paper napkins, and an empty pizza box, while he sniffles loudly and watches "The Thin Red Line," the choice of which was obviously a huge mistake, and clutches a damp cat. He's seen this film before. He knew perfectly well going in that it's being narrated by a dead soldier. Crikey, he's such an idiot. At least the little grey cat scrunched up in his arms doesn't seem to mind. She's an insistent little critter, this one. Wants what she wants, and makes it plain. Tuna and snuggles. Lots of snuggles. Dave hiccups and berates himself that he could probably learn a thing or two from his cat. And how pathetic is that?
Sean's football team will be heading to the championship game next week after all, and he's still pretty wobbly from tonight's celebrations. He left half the team still at the pub, finally flagged a cab home, and now he's wandering his house, clutching a cup of strong tea, and trying to sort himself out before he goes to bed and risks a hellacious hangover tomorrow. It'll likely get him anyway, but that's the price one pays, isn't it. Ophelia has been tracking him with quiet concern from one end of the house to the other. Mycroft gave up the work a little while back, planting himself in front of the dining room archway, where he can keep an eye on the two of them, occasionally adding a sympathetic rarmble or an inquiring snort to the sound of Ophelia's toenails clicking on the old wooden floor.
The trouble is, Sean thinks, twiddling Phee's ears as she leans comfortingly against his thigh, he can't decide whether he should restore the small coach house at the rear of the place; put up a proper ceiling, maybe with a skylight, give the shabby, barely painted sheetrock walls a nice fresh coat of plaster and white paint, fix that window that's stuck shut. Or maybe his office would be better, it being on the north side of the house. It's not as big as the coach house, but it's a good size, and it'd be warmer in here, and the natural light is quite good. Down here at the end of the hallway it's quiet enough. Of course, Sean's house is always quiet, since it's just him and the pups, and maybe that's been the problem all along. Maybe the reason he let himself be talked into buying a house this grand wasn't because he ever imagined he'd need all this space to himself, but because even at his most jaded there's been an insistent part of him wanting space to share, room to fill with someone else's living warmth, someone else's welcome noise, and though he's fond of Mycroft and Ophelia no end, really they're not what the back of his mind was finally after.
It's come to his attention, as he stands here mentally measuring out the dimensions of his office, that when he thinks of Viggo in this house, sure, he imagines the way Viggo would fit in his bed, but mostly he thinks about Viggo making ordinary noise; the rustle and clatter of putting away groceries, or Viggo setting his coffee cup down on the kitchen counter, or his brush making small, soft scratches putting paint on a canvas, and the little clinking noises of cleaning red and purple and yellow off of his brushes in an old olive jar half-filled with turpentine turning brown as Viggo swirls his brushes, and the handles tap against the lip of the jar.
Just now Sean has no way to know whether Viggo will want to come and live here. He doesn't know whether Vig will even want to be with Sean, want to touch him again, or... or anything. It's entirely possible, and Sean wouldn't blame him, if after all he may have been through with <em>that bloke,</em> all Viggo wants from Sean is to be mates, but otherwise left the hell alone. Still, when Sean finds him they're going to bloody well figure it out, and in the meantime, he's decided that his big old oak desk, the one he rescued from a half-demolished railroad office, will fit just fine in the guest room across the hall, on the south side of the house. Yeah. He'll finish off the coach house, as well. He and Viggo can do it together maybe, and they'll turn it into whatever Viggo wants it to be.
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