AN: So you had to know this was coming, given that it's, y'know, me. Charlie/Nathan, set six years after the movie. Charlie comes to see Nathan.
And yes, the title is from Cat Steven's "Last Love Song." And no, I don't know why Cat Steven and Charlie Bartlett have become intrinsically linked in my mind.
… Did You Think You Could Just Walk Away? …
It's been six years since they last saw each other—Charlie's soft apology, his failed attempt to part at least friends with Susan after their big blow out fight still seems like yesterday, except they both look older, Nathan with a touch of gray, and conversation is harder than it used to be, which is saying something.
"Hi," Nathan says, breaking the ice in what he hopes is an amicable way when all he really wants to say is 'what the hell are you doing on my doorstep?'
"Hey, Mr. Gardner, it's me, Charlie—"
"Bartlett," Nathan finishes grudgingly. "Yeah, I remember."
"I'm not looking for Susan," Charlie cuts in, which makes Nathan frown, because while he hadn't asked that he had assumed it, and what is the kid (well, not kid, man) doing on his doorstep?
"Okay," Nathan says, instead of what he wants to.
"Can…I come in?" Charlie presses, and with a raised eyebrow Nathan silently steps to the side.
The house is…different. Different colors, different furniture—as if he'd made a conscious decision to try to remove any trace of the past.
"I like what you've done with the place," Charlie offers. He's never been all that keen on looking back.
He walks down the hallway he used to frequent, out the backdoor. Nathan knows where he's going but follows numbly behind anyway.
"What are you doing here, Chuck?" he asks, voice soft, when they're both out there on the cement. Charlie glances down at Nathan's bare feet and then turns so he's facing the swimming pool, his back to the other man.
"I couldn't… I don't know. I had to make sure you were all right, were…" he trails off, the sentence unfinished except it's hanging there between them and they both know what it means.
"What are you doing here?" Nathan repeats, and his eyes are almost scared but he has to make him say it, has to hear it—
"You do remember, don't you?" Charlie asks, and now Nathan wishes he could see his face, see what he's thinking, why he's bringing this up—
"I remember," he says, the admission equally soft and heavy on the chill morning air.
"Then you know why I'm here," Charlie says, finally turning to look at the man behind him, the man that's crossing his arms and shaking his head in silent denial—
"It didn't mean anything," Nathan says, and for a moment both of them can almost believe him. "You shouldn't have come, Chuck," Nathan whispers, and Charlie feels his chin tilt up in irritation.
"I know what you're doing, I know that you're trying to distance me," he spits, and Nathan's jaw clenches. "Why don't you say my name?"
"Chuck—" Nathan starts, voice edging towards desperation, except Charlie interrupts, stepping closer to the man in front of him.
"Say my name, Nathan," he whispers, surprising himself at his own boldness, and Nathan can't look at him, can't look away, can't do anything to make him stop.
"Charlie," Nathan breathes, giving in to the pressure, to the temptation—"You shouldn't have come."
"Do you know how long it's been?" Charlie presses, and Nathan looks away, feeling the soft nudge of bitterness creeping in.
"Charlie," he sighs, and the way the name rolls so easily off his tongue makes both of them pause for a moment.
"I had to see," Charlie finally continues, and he could reach out and touch the man in front of him but instead he stops, waiting.
"That was a long time ago," Nathan says, and when Charlie opens his mouth to spit out some stupid BS Nathan rounds on him. "Damnit, Charlie, you were seventeen! Seventeen and I was your fucking teacher!"
"Nothing happened," Charlie reminds him softly, gently, always a little intimidated by the fury this man wears just below his skin. Nathan scrubs his face with his hands.
"You should go," he says, but Charlie doesn't appear to be listening because he's moving closer instead of away and he's resting one hand on Nathan's hip and the other on Nathan's waist and looking up into Nathan's face with wide-eyed innocence.
"You don't want me to go," he's saying, lips twisting up into his old, familiar smirk, and Nathan lets his crossed arms fall away from his chest as he takes a step backwards, breaking contact.
"Susan—" he starts weakly, but Charlie is already moving forward to close the distance.
"Susan's been suspecting since the night of the play, and been pushing me for the last year to come here—yes, we still talk—and you don't know weird until your first is pushing for you to seduce her father, but then none of us have ever done normal all that well, have we?"
"Seduce me?" Nathan echoes, kind of in shock, and a now-grinning Charlie steps closer so they're inches apart.
"Hell, if you insist," he smirks, and then Nathan's hand is resting on his chest in a depressingly unmistakable gesture to stop.
"Susan?" Nathan asks, still trying to process this new information, and Charlie rolls his eyes.
"You remember that time when we looked long and hard into each other's eyes and almost ended up making out?" he smiles.
"Charlie—" Nathan warns, trying to suppress even the smallest twitch of his lips and taking a step back only to find himself flat against the wall of the house. Charlie, despite being smaller, places his hands on either side of Nathan's chest.
"I'm going to lean forward and this time we actually will kiss and hopefully do a bit more than that. How does that make you feel?" he asks, impish smile fixed firmly in place.
"Charlie—" Nathan growls, but before he can continue Charlie's lip are on his and thinking is going right out the window along with sanity and common sense, because Charlie's mouth is hot and matching him thrust for thrust and taste for taste and—
Nathan pulls back, holding Charlie an arm's length away.
"Stop," he whispers. "This—this isn't right, I'm too old, I—"
"No you're not," Charlie interrupts, pushing closer.
"I'm old enough to be your dad!"
"Nathan?" Charlie sighs.
"You aren't my dad," Charlie says, voice too level to be serious. Nathan rolls his eyes.
"And who cares how old you are?"
"What does it matter what people think?" Charlie presses, and dimly Nathan realizes that if he stays here, if he doesn't get away from this right now, he's not going to be able to stop this from happening. Grimly he stumbles to the side a couple steps.
"You need to leave."
"This isn't fair to either of us, and you know it, Charlie," Nathan half-mocks softly, and Charlie's eyes widen, obviously hurt.
"Nathan, you can't—"
"That was six years ago. You honestly haven't moved on?" Nathan spits, and the pain on Charlie's face hurts more than he wants to admit but firmly he reminds himself that it's for the best, he could never be happy with you, you'd just hurt each other, you have to make him go, this has to stop.
"Nathan," Charlie whispers, and just below the sound of his name Nathan can hear Charlie pleading don't do this. He shuts his eyes, gathers himself up, but before he can continue he feels a hand on his cheek and he opens his eyes to Charlie's face. "Look me in the eye and tell me to leave, and I will."
They stand there for a long moment, the thousands of things they've kept from the world swimming in their eyes. At last Nathan stirs.
"You know I can't do that," he breathes, and Charlie's lips twitch up the slightest bit. "You've always known that I belonged to you, Charlie, didn't you?" he continues, and his voice is rough and maybe the slightest bit bitter and Charlie frowns, eyes a bit startled.
"Why are you angry?" he asks, scanning Nathan's face for the answer he doesn't understand.
"Why won't you just leave me alone and spare me the heartbreak?" Nathan spits back, and Charlie let's his hand fall in shock. Almost immediately he brings it back up with its partner, cupping Nathan's face in both of his hands.
"I'm not asking you if you want to go out on a date, or hang out and watch a movie, or jump in bed for a couple of weeks," Charlie hisses, his voice at complete odds with the slow circles his thumbs are making on Nathan's cheeks. With an obvious effort he contains his anger and lifts himself up to his full height, until his lips are centimeters from Nathan's.
"I'm asking," he continues, "That you let me stay with you for the rest of our lives, that you put up with my irritating qualities and let me put up with yours and let me spend every day by your side. I'm asking you to let me love you."
Nathan blinks suddenly wet eyes and tilts his head so that their foreheads lean against one another.
"Charlie?" he whispers.
Charlie looks up at him, wide-eyed and vulnerable and already aching in anticipation. "Yes?" he asks.
"What took you so long?" he says, his voice a breathy smile, tears slowly starting to crawl down his cheeks, onto Charlie's hands, and with a delighted laugh Charlie leans forward until their lips meet again and this time Nathan's hands are grabbing Charlie close and Charlie's are tangling up in Nathan's hair and jacket and Nathan pulls back just long enough to asks, mock-outraged, "Seduce me?"
Charlie, being the gentleman that he is, does his best to comply.
AN: I swear, I spent the longest time trying not to slash these two, but when I finally couldn't help myself I placed it 6 years later so it was all nice and legal. Really, I probably never would've if not for that half-second moment when they're both in the pool and they look at each other. I didn't catch it the first couple of times I watched it and then I was like huh. So inevitably.... lol. Anyways, hope you enjoyed, and as always, much love, Wolfie!