Note: Sequel to "Taking First"

Warning: Slight triggers for hate speech. The author does not share the opinions of the character (and, in fact, the character himself does not. He's just an angry soul).

It's been a year. They're at a con –because when is there not one con or another to attend?– and Banky sees her first. He goes tense, can't even help it, and, of course, it draws Holden's attention. Holden follows his eyes to Alyssa, just sitting down and smiling at the woman accompanying her.

Holden looks away, bites at his lip. Banky knows that expression, knows that Holden wants to go over and talk to her. Banky is almost sure that after a year he should be more comfortable in their relationship and not feel this burning jealousy, but he does.

Holden nudges his foot under the table and catches his eye. He's smiling, eyes soft, and Banky forces himself to relax and smile back. He's glad when someone comes up for a signing; it gives him a diversion to focus on.

Somehow, they get through the con. Holden's packing up, loading a box out to their car, while Banky stands off to one side and chats with a lingering fan about the future of Bluntman and Chronic, hands gesturing as he talks like they always do when he gets excited. He has his own projects, and Holden has Chasing Amy, which Banky tries very hard not to hate with a fierce and undeniable passion, but Banky still has ideas for the future and working with Holden excites him.

The fan eventually leaves, urged away by security, and Banky turns to get the last of their display packed up. He freezes when he sees her, her fingers lingering on a display of Holden's work. Chasing Amy, which bares her face though with a few changes to avoid him having to pay her royalties. God, even after all this time he still hates her so fucking much.

"Hey, Banky. It's been a while."

Banky bites down on the urge to call her a dyke, a cuntrag, a fucking bitch. He returns her greeting with one that's almost as civil. "Alyssa."

"I guess, in the end, you won, huh?" She finally looks up at him, the smile on her face cold and cruel.

"Well." Banky tilts his head back. "I had the head start. Among certain other advantages." Like not being a fucking dyke ass bitch.

She nods, like she'd been expecting that. "I hope you two are very happy together."

Banky's shoulders relax. "We are." And it's the perfect truth. He's happy with his life, with where he and Holden stand.

"He told me, once, that I was the only soul on Earth he'd ever felt truly connected to. I wonder which of us he lied to." She says, pauses to let the words settle, and then walks away.

Banky fucking hates her. And more than that, he hates how her words get to him, eat at him. Like she knew they would.

When Holden gets back from his trip to the car, he's grinning. He wraps an arm around Banky and kisses him on the cheek. "Ready to go home?"

Banky blinks at him, slowly. "Did you tell Alyssa she was the only soul you'd ever felt connected to?"

Holden frowns, lets his arms drop away. "You talked to her?"

"She came up to me. Did you say that?"

Holden takes a deep breath, like he's preparing himself. "I might have said something like that."

"What the fuck?" Banky yells. "So, what, you didn't 'feel connected' with my soul? Fuck you!"

"I didn't mean it like that. I said that before I ever considered us. I didn't know you were a possibility then."

It's a fair argument, except how it's not. Even before he let himself acknowledge his own feelings, Banky had long considered Holden his soul mate. Like those stoners they based the comic book off of: heterosexual life partners. It hurt to know that there was a time Holden hadn't thought that.

"What about now?" Banky asks, trying to keep his voice calm. He's not always very good at calm, but he tries.

Holden cups the back of Banky's head and drags him into a kiss. "You're it, Bank." He says after they've parted, foreheads leaned together. "She couldn't even compare."

Banky lets out a breath and pulls Holden back to him. He can accept that, believe that, and lose himself in Holden's taste, the feel of his mouth.

At least for now.