There's no part of their relationship that's ever been textbook cookie cutter. From the start, it was like strapping themselves to the roof of the car and hoping the ride had no sharp turns. Sharp turns that naturally occurred in all the places they least expected it. Sebastian can't say he minds much. Between all the sleepless nights at his computer, and days spent slumped over in their car after a long stretch of work - what they had was something Sebastian couldn't pinpoint.
He can distinctly recall last Tuesday. It's important that this happened on a Tuesday, as that's the day they both go to therapy, so dictated by their workplace. Additionally, what's important is that after the hour of bullshitting their way around a stiff in a suit who smells too much like mothballs, they sit in Joseph's car with a hot cup of barely tolerable vending machine coffee and discuss if they feel like fast food or Denny's. What made this particular Tuesday different was that this discussion failed to take place (they always end up at Denny's anyway). Instead, they sat in silence in the car and Joseph cried for the first time since leaving the hospital.
That was last Tuesday. Since then, they've fucked twice (equal to how many packs of cigarettes Sebastian's purchased), ordered pizza at midnight, and there's only been three anxiety attacks between the two of them.
Now it's Friday, and Sebastian is left wondering what exactly it is that this has become.
It's a late night milk run for Sebastian, who dragged himself through the rain all for a bottle of Dr. Pepper and some cigarettes. Sometime between him leaving and now, Joseph had fallen asleep on the couch. It gives Sebastian time to think, honestly, while he sits in the armchair across from Joseph and watches the slow rise and fall of his chest. His glasses are askew, pushed awkwardly up the bridge of his nose. He's dressed for bed, in a pair of boxers and his faded Montreal Canadians t-shirt (the shirt which has started a countless number of conversations about why he was never a fan of the Leafs despite having grown up in Toronto), though Sebastian knows that the presence of the black frames means he didn't intend to sleep. At last not yet.
But things had changed over the past week and maybe that's why Sebastian finds it more worrisome than endearing to see Joseph sleeping so soundly.
Sometimes, they go for days without talking about it. It's not out of avoidance, but some sort of fear that talking about it might bring it back. When they do manage to talk, it's often over the kitchen counter while one of them tries to control the mounting panic that's attached itself to their everyday life like some sort of parasite. It's all-consuming when it hits... and at times, Sebastian feels weak in the face of it.
Joseph does, too. At first it seemed manageable, but they'd struggled through a period where Sebastian honestly thought he'd lose his partner to the crushing trauma. First it was skipping meds, and then not sleeping. Soon, sitting on the edge of the tub with a gun against his temple and blood dripping from his nose.. there were some images Sebastian wished he could erase from his memory, yet those same memories are the ones that bring him back to now. To being with Joseph and picking up the pieces.
They live together, though Sebastian doesn't actually know how it happened. One or two shirts became bags, and bags became boxes. By Christmas (a month after the incident in the bathroom), they were setting up a three in the corner of the living room and trying to keep Joseph's cat out of it. In all the togetherness, it was never something they had to make 'official' to those around them. They kissed, they had sex, they argued over what to watch on Netflix, and made breakfast in their underwear on Sunday mornings. A small touch to Joseph's back at work. Joseph's gloved fingers across his stubble in the car. The only simplicity to them comes in the unspoken conversations.
Sebastian closes his eyes to give pause to the silence, but his presence is enough to stir Joseph. He hears the shifting on the couch, and Joseph clears his throat. "Sebastian?"
"Mm?" He lifts his brow without opening his eyes. "Couldn't even stay awake for me." He clicks his tongue teasingly, and grunts when Joseph throws one of the decorative pillows (read: the fucking pillow the cat sleeps on rather than her bed). "Tired?"
"Yeah. But I'm not ready to go to sleep."
Sebastian opens his eyes to watch Joseph clean his glasses on his hem of his shirt and readjust them. He stands and walks towards the armchair while fussing with the edge of his boxers. There's no hesitation when Joseph sits in his lap, drawing Sebastian's face close for a kiss and withdrawing with a sigh. "Are you ever going to quit? You taste terrible." Before Sebastian can answer, Joseph kisses him again.
Sebastian splays his fingers across Joseph's hips and pushes forward to force his chin upward and expose his neck, still bearing the faint lovebites of their last encounter. Rather than answering Joseph's quip, Sebastian draws his lips from Joseph's chin to the collar of his t-shirt. There's no question how it will end tonight.
Loving Joseph is no different than playing an instrument. On the surface, the basics are simple: get him hard, get him off. But it feels too hollow to say that anything between them is ever that easy, and Sebastian intends to keep it that way. No, Joseph is every inch an instrument to be touched and played with. He can trace his way down the body beneath him and know where all the rises and dips of his skin are - the scars and the muscles and even the birthmark on his left shoulder. Sebastian knows all the secrets that linger over his skin; how he shivers when the small of his back is touched, and that a heavy kiss to his throat makes him melt. Joseph hits every note under a patient hand - one that takes the time to remember he likes to be touched along his jaw and have the back of his thighs rubbed and squeezed.
Carefully, Sebastian can draw out a warm up with teeth marks on his hipbones and dark lovebites from the inside of his thigh to the junction on his neck and shoulder. When Joseph pleas for more, it's only fair that Sebastian oblige. He whispers to be played, and his wish is never denied.
Together, they are a symphony. The motion they find is their melody, looping effortlessly through their bassline of pleas spoken between shared breathes of wanting more. The air is humid and they pant against the inevitable end like they could chase it far into nothingness. For a while, the world doesn't exist beyond what they've created, and perhaps it's what they've been looking for when this all began.
Sebastian has to shake the thoughts away to focus on his task at hand, but it slips in regardless. The image of his breathless partner smiling up at him, sweaty and flushed and all out of sorts. Sebastian can read the words across his lips but there is no sound. No feedback. Only a deafening silence that begins to feel too loud in his ears.
Sebastian is in love with Joseph Oda.
He almost groans against how he comes to that thought. It's never the right time to say it. He's sure Joseph knows, it's not like any of this is just empty action. Joseph says something but Sebastian doesn't respond, too busy with his lips against his collarbone.
"Seb, are you listening?"
"I appreciate your enthusiasm, but we should get to bed before we're too ahead of ourselves." Sebastian feels Joseph's laugh on his mouth, and his fingers across his jaw lifting his head. "Sebastian, I have no intentions of ruining this chair."
"It comes out eventually," he replies while he lets Joseph pull him up, fingers on his belt loops. "I thought you weren't ready for bed?"
"No, I said I wasn't ready to sleep."
Well, that confirmed exactly what Sebastian suspected. He follows Joseph without another word, letting his partner tug at his tie and unfasten the buttons of his vest while they make their way down the short hallway. Joseph isn't in this for the formality, and it doesn't take him long to toss Sebastian's belt off to the side with his vest and tie.
They break apart, standing at arms length. The smirk on Joseph's face makes Sebastian's cock twitch. Joseph's eyes drop to Sebastian's fly and he licks his lower lip. "Might help if you took those off, Detective."
"What, no pleasantries today?" Sebastian grins and pulls his shirt off, and quickly steps out of his pants. While he winds up for another clever retort, Joseph closes the space between them with a kiss, his hand dropping down to Sebastian's waist and cupping him through his boxers. Sebastian lays his hands on Joseph's back and tugs at that godforsaken t-shirt with the same fervor in which he's kissed. "I hate the fucking Habs," he groans.
Joseph laughs in response and drops to his knees, thumbing the waistband of Sebastian's boxers. "Original six, I'll have you know. It's not my fault you have terrible taste in hockey teams." His breath ghosts against Sebastian's semi-hard cock and he threads his fingers through Joseph's hair. Christ, Joseph is hot when he wants to be. Sebastian doesn't often get to see Joseph so quick to suck him off, but he's certainly not going to complain. His tongue is hot against the underside of his erection, swirling over the head and teasing its way back down.
"Already? You only just got hard." Joseph grins (what a cheeky little shit, Sebastian thinks) and strokes him while his lips close over the head and he sucks lightly, inching down ever further on Sebastian's shaft until he's fixed himself into a smooth and steady rhythm. Sebastian tugs at his hair, and resists the urge to move his hips too far forward. It's almost unfortunate for him that Joseph's mouth is so skilled. All too soon, Sebastian finds himself rocking his hips forward to seek his release.
Joseph pulls his head back, panting wetly against the side of Sebastian's cock when it rests against his cheek. "Don't you dare come." Joseph strokes him slowly, getting up from his knees and nodding his chin toward the bed. "Let's take care of that." He wipes his mouth on the back of his hand and sits on the edge of the bed, inviting Sebastian to join him with a stroke to his cock.
Sebastian doesn't need much more enticing. He pins Joseph's body between himself and the mattress, planting a heavy kiss to his neck and dragging his nails down from his ribs to the thin waistband of his underwear. There's something about Joseph that makes Sebastian feel as if he's on the edge of falling - toes on the edge and the feeling of weightlessness in front and the world to his back. It's the difference, he supposes, between wanting to jump and wanting to fall.
He is tethered here, and Joseph is the one at the rope.
Sebastian drags his nails across Joseph's hips and draws a groan from him. It doesn't come without push and pull, of course. Joseph bites and kisses, and it's an honest fight he puts up when Sebastian pins his hand against the side of his neck. Joseph digs his nails into Sebastian's shoulder and drags them down to his forearm. Heated and frantic, Sebastian works his hand across Joseph's hip and denies him the satisfaction of touching exactly where he wants. He breathes a frustrated sigh and groans through his teeth strongly enough Sebastian swears it's almost a growl.
"Don't get huffy," Sebastian teases with a soft laugh against his pulse point. God, does Sebastian ever want this.
"Seb, don't be a prick," mutters Joseph while he digs his nails into the small of Sebastian's back. "I'm impatient."
"Yeah? I can tell."
Sebastian resumes his hard kisses down Joseph's neck and listens to the slight hitch in his breath. But something is off in the way the excited trembling suddenly stills, and the hand against his back falls back to the bed.
"Do you think… He saw? All my thoughts about you? All the things I wanted."
Sebastian lifts his mouth from the wet kiss around Joseph's pulse and stares down at him with his brows drawn together. "Joseph?" The change of pace is sudden, and it worries him. When the words catch up to his thoughts, his attention snaps forward.
I can tell... not the best choice of words. Fuck.
He lays with his head to the side, the marked line of his neck exposed and tense when he swallows thickly. "I wonder if he knew exactly what I felt." Joseph's eyes close, and Sebastian watches how he brings a hand up over his face and covers his mouth. "I've lost a part of myself," he mumbles through his fingers. "He took…"
Sebastian rests a hand on Joseph's side and rubs slow circles against his ribs. The arousal fades fast, and it's replaced with concern and fear for how suddenly his partner becomes disquieted. "He didn't take anything from you. I'm right here, Joseph." Sebastian cups his cheek and coaxes his hand away from his mouth to press a kiss to the corner of his lower lip. "I'm right here."
It's not the first time this has happened. It would be a lie to say it would be the last. Sex was... complicated at times.
It's not as if Sebastian hasn't expected this. Since the night in the car, he's wondered if something inside Joseph was waiting to surface.
Joseph doesn't tremble. He keeps his head turned away until he gives into Sebastian's touch and leaning into his palm, exhaling sharply through his nose and drawing a hand up. There's no need to coddle him, Joseph is capable of putting himself back into focus. If Sebastian's touch can help, well, he supposes that's just an added bonus. Sebastian runs his free hand along Joseph's side and rests it against his ribs, thumbing the skin in absent patterns while he waits to see what his partner needs.
Partner was a term that encompassed too little. And while Sebastian doesn't put his chips in favour of the divine, calling Joseph something of an angel isn't too far of a stretch. Not the soft baby-faced and dove feathered angels, no… Joseph is full of power and capable of wrath and destruction, all of which he can deal between a handgun and the brute force of an axe. It wasn't Michael that pulled him out of hell, it was Joseph. Like this, when Sebastian can trace the softer edges of him, nothing has changed. Joseph is still Joseph, and this part of him is a side left exposed because Joseph chooses to let Sebastian see it.
All that strength made up for the times Sebastian felt he might not be able to stand.
"It is cliche if I say he didn't take you?"
Sebastian brings his eyes up and snorts. Joseph puts a hand to his cheek and teases the line of stubble across his jaw. Of course it's too storybook for them, yet Sebastian doesn't think he cares much when he kisses Joseph's palm and they share a relaxed laugh. Despite the pause, Sebastian is still hard, which Joseph doesn't seem to have forgotten. Their kissing and touching leads back into something more - some sort of hymn in the dark they recite over the sheets.
He moves with Joseph in an effortless rhythm, but a deep hunger lingers inside him even when he strokes Joseph to release. Two glasses of water and cigarette later, Sebastian finds himself on his knees with Joseph's hands across his back, fingers pressed to the spine while he fucks him with drive and purpose.
When the digital clock makes a tinny ding and the numbers signal 1 AM, it feels almost wrong to sleep. It's not as if there's anywhere to go tomorrow. The rain against the windows and the sound of the shower running is enough to lull him back into a train of thought. The water stops, and Sebastian follows Joseph's movements in the light of the bedside lamp while he pulls on some clean underwear and his t-shirt.
He definitely loves Joseph. It's an indisputable fact.
Sebastian flips from his stomach onto his side and drapes his arm across Joseph's waist. They lay face to face, and Sebastian hasn't bothered with the light yet. For now, he's content to study the face in front of him like it might disappear if he can't remember the exact shape of Joseph's mouth. There's a healing that this brings, this... togetherness. Sebastian thought in his worst moments that the fire was the end. Everything in front of him fell into a void and after all… that hell, he felt himself staring at a brick wall.
Myra and Lily would always be a part of his life, and Sebastian knows that. Joseph isn't a replacement or a temporary placeholder. Joseph is the start of his first steps forward.
It's always been Joseph who's told him to hold on. Joseph who, in the pouring rain, brought flowers for Lily's grave; who handed Sebastian a new tie and said 'you don't stop being a father'. Joseph who wrapped his fingers around his wedding ring and said there was no rush or obligation for him to stop wearing it. There was no bitterness, no need to compete. Joseph wasn't looking to erase the past, and Sebastian couldn't ask for someone more understanding.
He's falling asleep with the light on tonight (he knows he's not going to move until morning), Joseph wrapped loosely in his arms while the storm rolls over their heads. Sebastian closes his eyes and lays his forehead close enough to brush Joseph's damp hair. Whatever had changed that night, Sebastian no longer thinks it's something to be afraid of.
Maybe it's not about waiting for the right time.
"I know, Sebastian."
"I know, too."