eff_reality: (so ridiculously pretty dom)
[personal profile] eff_reality
Premise: AU. Billy is a PhD. candidate in Cinema Studies at Suffolk University and Dom is a rent boy in Southie.
Rating: PG-13 to NC-17
Feedback: is my anti-drug. Help keep me off the pipe.
Note: Almost two months since I last posted. I think that's a record (and an abomination).
Previously.



NORTHAMPTON MONTAGE PART II

MONDAY, DECEMBER 24rd 7:45AM


When Billy wakes up the next morning, he's faced with a clean, wide, empty stretch of bed beside him. The other end of the blankets are neatly tucked in, and Dominic is nowhere to be seen. He remembers waking up several times during the night, each time discovering that they'd both valiantly kept most of the mattress between them, even in slumber.

Billy gives a start when he hears a deep inhale, then a controlled exhale through pursed lips. His eyes dart around the room, finding nothing. When he rises to a sitting position, though, he catches a glimpse of shoulder over the foot of the bed. He smiles. "Dom?"

Dominic lifts his head as much as he can from his current position—whatever it is—so that one tired eye squints at Billy over the rumpled duvet. "Morning." His voice is strained. Billy crawls forward, intrigued, and Dominic is quickly distracted by the move, nearly falling out of his pose. He forces himself to bow his head again.

"How long've you been up?"

"About an hour," Dominic admits sheepishly. "Can't sleep in houses I'm not used to."

"Mm." Billy lays on his stomach and watches Dominic form a near-perfect tabletop.

Dominic takes in and expels two more controlled breaths. "Be done in a minute."

"Take your time," Billy smiles, unashamed to be watching. "I didn't know you did that."

"Every day," Dominic forces out as he moves into a downward dog. "Though when I was sick, I stopped cold for about a week." He scoots himself back on the heels of his hands, righting his positioning. "'M still having a bit of trouble getting back into it. Muscles aren't cooperating."

Billy's eyes follow the line of his back that moves into the upside-down vee that is the rise of his ass and then cascades into his taut legs. "Doing better than I would." He scoots to the end of his side of the bed and struggles with the window shade. When it finally snaps with obedience and curls in on itself, the brightness of outside is startling. Billy squints and holds a hand in front of his eyes. There's a fresh blanket of snow fluttering into place over everything. "My God. Again?"

"I know," Dominic grumbles, obviously having already done his share of exploring this morning. Billy feels guilty and a bit regretful for sleeping through it.

He pulls the shade back down halfway so the light spilling into the room isn't so unforgiving. He musses a hand through his hair, suddenly self-conscious at how he must look. When he returns his attention to the foot of the bed, Dominic has finished his last pose and stands reaching toward the low ceiling with both arms, almost touching it with his fingertips, eyes closed. Without warning, he drops, folding in half to reach underneath his toes and give them a pull. "Hungry?" Billy offers.

Dominic lets out a emphatic "Yes," then crouches, finally showing his face to Billy properly.

"Let's get dressed. We'll take the car out."

"Can we?"

Billy shuffles over to his suitcase and starts searching for something warm to wear. "Yeah, Deb always lets me. And no one'll be up for another couple of hours, I don't think." He pulls a thick burgundy sweater on right over his undershirt. "There's this twenty-four-hour diner about fifteen minutes away. Fucking incredible breakfast food."

*
8:26AM

Dominic makes a run for the restroom as soon as they're settled in their booth. Billy realizes that they've both neglected certain parts of their respective morning routines in their famished rush to get out here. His hair feels a bit grimy.

Dominic, for his part, takes a few minutes in the restroom to collect his thoughts and his nerves. He splashes water on his face and tugs on his hair, getting lost in his reflection. He's not sure what to make of Billy's behavior, and he's not sure that contemplating it too much is a good idea. Fuck protocol—if there's one thing he's learned over the last few years, it's that his instincts are never wrong.

So he'll stop wondering whether or not Billy truly enjoys his company, whether it's a pure thing or if there's some semblance of pity at work. He'll stop wondering if Billy's still attracted to him—or if he ever was to begin with, for that matter. He'll just stop thinking, period, and do his best to enjoy this time they have together.

Easier said than done.

When he returns, he approaches their table shaking his head with a playful scowl. "Didn't even give me a chance to piss before we left, you bastard." As he slides into the seat across from Billy, he can feel himself flinch and blink hard at the glass that's set in front of him, right square in the middle of his placemat. It's a double shot glass of what appears to be—

"Pineapple juice?" Billy sits back with a smirk, cradling a steaming cup of coffee with both of his hands. "Isn't that what it was?"

Dominic suddenly remembers what Elijah's mum said last night, about he and Billy acting like a couple. So much for no longer analyzing. "You're a sweetheart, aren't you?"

The words are out of his mouth before he can even think them over, and they both freeze. Billy hides the start of a smile with his cup of coffee, but Dominic can still see the red that blossoms around his cheeks and ears.

Dominic lowers his eyes to the menu, even though he'd already decided what he wants in the car on the way over, in order to give Billy some reprieve. He feels like a bit of a prick, like maybe he said what he said, subconsciously, to get a rise out of Billy, and it's obviously worked.

Billy doesn't keep it a secret, either, trying to take away the sting of discomfort by nudging Dominic's foot under the table.

"Sorry," Dominic laughs, eyes still mindlessly scanning the breakfast pages.

Dominic is grateful for the waitress' interruption, and orders a modest egg-white omelet while Billy orders enough food for two men twice his size. He gives Billy a quizzical look as their menus are taken away. "Where do you put it?"

Billy doesn't miss a beat. "In my mouth, where do you think?" He takes a long moment to appreciate just how different Dominic looks this morning, between the specs and the sweats, bare fingers and wrists, and all the bright winter sunlight warming his face through the diner's ample windows. He realizes, not for the first time, how rarely he's seen Dominic in daylight. There's something else that's different about him, too, something that Billy can't quite name. "You look really good, Dom."

Dominic is broken out of the trance he'd fallen into staring at the snow fall outside. "Hm? Oh. Thanks." He scritches his scalp. "Don't feel so good-looking right now, to tell you the truth."

"You are, though." Billy hesitates. "Don't take this the wrong way, but it's, ehm... around the eyes, it's really noticeable."

Billy lets the remark hang in the air there, and Dominic shifts uncomfortably in the squeaky booth.

"I guess this is me seeing you healthy for the first time," Billy decides with a bright smile. He watches with curiosity as Dominic pulls a pen from his pocket and scribbles something on his hand underneath the table.

"Um." Dominic's brow furrows. He lays said hand flat on the table and begins scrawling letters on his knuckles. He gets down an "H" and an "E" before Billy prompts him.

"What?"

"I was wondering." He finally meets Billy's eyes. "Do you know of any churches in the area? A Catholic church."

"Hmm." Billy rests his elbow on the table and props his chin up with his hand. "I've never been to one here—Lij's family isn't very religious. But we must've passed a couple on the way."

Dominic nods, distracted, still tracing over the letters on the backs of his fingers.

Billy looks at him carefully, his tone gentle. "Why do you ask?"

"Um. Well, it's Christmas Eve. I'd like to go," Dominic shrugs sheepishly. "If we pass one on the way back, would you mind? I don't want to go to a service or anything—I'd just pop in for a few minutes."

"No, not at all." Billy takes a generous sip of coffee. "Could probably use some divine intervention myself."

*
9:43AM

Dominic hesitates, letting the gentle flurries give his hair and clothes a dusting as his eyes rove the expanse of the tiny white building. He wonders what Billy must think of the picture he makes. "I haven't been religious for a while," he explains without turning. "Doesn't really go with my lifestyle anymore. But I find myself craving it sometimes, being in a church, crossing myself. Reciting prayers I've known since I was little."

Billy nods silently, allowing Dominic his space and letting him decide when and where to enter.

When he does, he does so meekly, expecting a bit of a crowd even if it's too early for a service. But to his relief, there's no one, not even a priest, at least that he can see—and he doesn't plan on doing a confession today, thanks very much. He holds the heavy door open to Billy, who guides it shut with a care that surprises them both.

Billy waits with his back pressed to it, watching Dominic survey the walls and ceiling. He smirks when he sees the disappointment cross his face. The church is modern, with no history or character, even for an American church. Still, there are pools of holy water and a statue of Jesus at the altar. It'll do.

Dominic makes his way up he center aisle, dragging his fingers along the arms of the pews in reverence rather than rebellion, while Billy keeps his distance, strolling the perimeter with a mostly detached curiosity. When Dominic reaches the second row, he grips the wood for purchase and genuflects there, then rises and gingerly makes his way into the pew. The kneeler squeaks a little as he pulls it down, but he doesn't falter in his routine, resting his elbows on the back of the seat in front of him and pressing his palms resolutely together. He starts an Our Father that dies on his lips after "Thy kingdom come," then moves seamlessly into a silent prayer of his own.

He keeps it short and simple, as he is mindful of Billy's presence not too far from him now, wandering somewhere in the vicinity of the Virgin Mary. The content is mostly familiar; he prays for the well-being of his friends and his family, even if he feels a bit hypocritical for doing so. But this morning, there is an addendum, and there's an urgency to it: Dominic wonders if he's finding the right path, not necessarily as a Catholic but the right path for him, and if he is, if God could maybe give him a sign. It's silly—and certainly something he hasn't done since he was a kid—but, as Billy said, maybe some divine intervention is in order.

Dominic crosses himself and stays with his eyes closed, palms together and braced on his forehead, until the sound of coins in the donation box breaks him out of his reverie. The perpetrator is Billy, standing before the bank of votives and suddenly looking very solemn. Dominic approaches silently, and although Billy doesn't turn, Dominic can tell that his presence is felt.

"I'm glad we came here," Billy says. "You mentioning your mum last night made me think of my parents."

It is then that Dominic notices the two lone candles at Billy's waist that are now lit up. He gives Billy an intense, searching look, and Billy exhales heavily. Dominic can literally feel his world shift, their world shift.

"I'm not Catholic, but I think it's nice."

"Billy." No courage is needed for Dominic to tangle their hands together. "When?"

"My father when I was twelve. My mother when I was thirteen." Dominic can tell it's a sentence he's been reciting just like that for most of his life, but it still nearly knocks the wind out of him. "They were good people. From what I remember, anyway."

"I'm sure they were." Dominic keeps his hands still, though the urge to give Billy more comfort is too strong. "You can tell me more about it sometime, if you want."

Billy gives him a tight but genuine smile and squeezes his hand. "Yeah. I will."

*
9:07PM

After dinner, there is an understood routine that everyone seems to be in on but Dominic and Orlando, and it's obvious that their presence has sort of interrupted it. So long as Billy's been the only guest, Christmas has still been a family affair, but when Elijah and his friends outnumber the family, it's something else. Sensing this, Deb gives an exaggerated yawn and a pointed look to Hannah about an hour into It's a Wonderful Life. "I think I'm off to bed."

"Me too." Hannah gives a little wave. "Merry Christmas." She disappears on the staircase.

"Don't go upstairs on our account," Billy insists.

"No, I really am tired." Deb ruffles his hair, then Dom's, then Orlando's, in a sort of game of Duck-Duck-Goose on her way across the room to her son. She kisses Elijah on the top of his head. "'Night, honey."

"'Night, Ma."

"Dom, I expect to awaken to the aroma of a gourmet breakfast tomorrow."

Dominic gives her a lopsided smile. "You won't be disappointed."

She gives him a wink, and they all bid her a final quiet goodnight.

As soon as they hear her bedroom door close, Elijah whispers, "...Can we play Spin the Bottle now?"

They all laugh. Dominic sits cross-legged at the foot of the tree, watching Billy, who's draped sideways over one of the plush chairs. He's been quiet tonight, lost in the black-and-white images playing across the TV screen, or at least pretending to be.

"Maybe we should say what we're thankful for," Orlando pipes up.

"Wrong holiday." Elijah pinches his side and tries to make a run for it, but Orlando's too quick—or too long-limbed—grabbing him under the arms and hoisting him onto the sofa with him.

"I think it's a good idea," Billy smiles, working a hand through his hair. "Fuck you and your American traditions."

"Yeah, you're outnumbered tonight!" Orlando keeps Elijah hostage with one arm and tickles him with the other. Elijah gives a surprisingly high-pitched screech, and Orlando clamps a hand over his mouth, shaking with silent laughter. "Lunatic. You'll wake your mum!"

Dominic is suddenly very interested in the frayed cuffs of his denims.

"Come on, Orlando. What are you thankful for?" Billy turns away from the telly to sit properly.

"Um." He tightens his hold on Elijah, who burrows into his side. "I'm thankful for little Yankee twits without whom I wouldn't be having such a lovely holiday. And..." His eyes move to Dom. "...I'm thankful for having the best roommate in the world. Billy, I'm sorry, I don't know you well enough to be thankful for you yet."

Billy gives him a playful shrug.

Elijah twists about so that his back is to Orlando. "Billy, what are you thankful for?"

Billy flinches, as if he'd never expected the question to be turned on him. "Ehm." He searches the ceiling for an answer. "Being alive. And being done with school. Almost."

"Yay," Elijah applauds, and they all follow suit, except Dominic, who's still completely distracted. "I'm thankful for that too. I was sick of your bitching."

"That's it?" Orlando nuzzles the back of his head.

Elijah pretends to consider. "Oh, and this sofa. This sofa's pretty comfortable."

Orlando gives him a wry smile and cuddles him closer. "Fine."

Billy turns to Dominic, examining his face. "Dom?"

"'M thankful for friends," he answers quickly. "Anyone want hot chocolate? 'M gonna make some." He rises and begins walking to the kitchen.

"I'll have some," Lij sing-songs. "And put some rum in it."

"I think you've had enough tonight," Orlando chides, creeping a hand underneath his sweater.

"Noooo." Elijah protests even as he wriggles closer to him.

"Yes." Orlando starts to nibble at his neck.

"Oh, go upstairs already." Billy preemptively puts an end to the play-fighting before he throws up all over the living room rug. "Christ."

The moment they've been given permission, they don't hesitate, Elijah hauling Orlando off the sofa by both arms. They call goodnight and Merry/Happy Christmas to Billy, but he's already halfway to the kitchen to look in on Dominic.

When he reaches the archway, Billy doesn't make his presence known right away, content to watch Dominic putter around the kitchen for measuring spoons and cookware with a manic energy. After a few moments, he clears his throat.

Dominic turns and forces a smile. "Hey."

"The other two girls finally went to bed."

"Oh." Dom's smile turns genuine, but he now looks at a loss, holding the container of cocoa powder in one hand and a measuring cup in the other. "Do you still want...?"

"Sure."

"'Kay." Dominic turns back to the task at hand.

Billy finds it hard to fathom how touched he is by the image before him, of Dominic so domestic and in his element as such, measuring the ingredients in equal amounts for two mugs that sit side by side on the kitchen counter. "You know, you don't have to pretend to be happy for the sake of Christmas. Or for the sake of being a guest in someone's house you don't know very well."

"I'm not pretending," Dominic gently protests. "I still don't regret coming here, either. I'm really enjoying myself, honestly." He turns and gives Billy a brighter smile as a convincer.

Billy nods and bites his lip, leaning his hip against the oven handle. "Is there something else, then? You've seemed kind of... preoccupied today."

"Um. Well. You know, 's that whole end-of-the-year thing. Makes you reevaluate everything, yeah?" Dominic knows he's being vague, but he also knows that Billy won't mind—or press further.

"Absolutely. Although I feel like I go through it once a month these days."

Dominic laughs a little. "Really?"

"Yeah." Billy sounds tired. "When I first started school here, I felt so out of place. I still do, to be honest. All the other students in my class are so privileged. I didn't know how to talk to them or be around them. Growing up, it was all about defending my masculinity, and then it became a matter of defending my intelligence, you know?"

Dominic slows his actions on the stove, interested—and glad to have the heat off of him. "Yeah."

"I had to adapt. And I've done well for myself, I know that. And I will do well. I think. But there's still this part of me that thinks I don't belong there, like I'm in disguise and they're going to figure me out at any second. I mean, they don't know. They have no idea about where I come from; they know nothing of that world. I'm not resentful or anything. And I don't regret the program. It's just hard to decide what I am, what world I belong in sometimes. I feel like I'm in two places at once," Billy laughs. "You know?"

Dominic gives a heavy sigh as he stirs the chocolate. "You have no idea how much I know."

Billy hesitates. "Turn around."

"What?" Dominic laughs nervously. He feels Billy move closer.

"Turn around. Just for a second."

When Dominic turns, Billy pulls him by the neck into a full-body hug that's more intimate than anything they've shared, even considering all that's happened between them, and suddenly the simmering chocolate and the conversation at hand are both totally forgotten. At first, Dominic doesn't know what to do, with Billy wrapped all warm and firm around him, one hand in the hair at the nape of his neck and the other at the small of his back. He finally curls his arms up and around Billy's back and rests his chin on Billy's shoulder, trying to capture their embrace with his mental camera.

Billy lifts his head so his mouth is right up against Dom's ear and says, "I'm really thankful we met."

Dominic shivers, feeling his heart set off to racing and hoping Billy can't feel it against his own chest. He knows he's going to replay this moment in his head for the next week, at least. Still, a small part of him wants to shove Billy away, hard. How could he not notice how perfectly their bodies fit together? How could he not want this? Dominic wishes he had the courage to voice any of these things, but all he can manage is, "Me too."






NEXT

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