Title: I Am the Cause of Your Effect
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Rating: T; slash
Summary: Men in Black III. Kay ain't quite the Time Traveler's Husband, but there's a certain congruity there, is what Jay's saying. 1600 words.
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is not. I claim nothing but the plot.
Spoilers: Post-Men in Black III (2012); other MIB movie canon
Notes: So, yeah. This happened. Apparently time travel makes me sappy? Bonus reference to another Marvel Movie franchise containing Tommy Lee Jones. Originally posted to LJ on June 7.
It starts on the sands at Cape Canaveral on July 16, 1969. In New York City in May of 1997. And in a small, comfortable diner over a piece of pie in 2012. Kay ain't quite the Time Traveler's Husband, but there's a certain congruity there, is what Jay's saying.
But it doesn't really begin until he walks his partner up to apartment 5K after, peering over his shoulder in half-anxious recon to make sure everything's back where it's supposed to.
"You have no idea how weird it was, walking up here this morning to give you a piece of my mind and finding some woman with a little kid instead," he says, shaking his head with a frown. "Which reminds me, I drank all that kid's chocolate milk and didn't even say please. I wonder where they live now?"
Kay raises his craggy eyebrows, giving him that faint twitch at the corners of his mouth and crinkle around the eyes that signifies fond amusement. Jay's already missing the more open expressiveness from 1969, but he'd missed being one of only a handful of people who can halfway read the bastard, too. "Even if you could track the poor woman down, I don't think she'd remember what you were apologizing for, Slick."
"True," Jay muses absently, leaning against the door jamb as he watches Kay scope out the living room like he hadn't just cleared the place when he locked up that morning. "I suppose that goes double for double-A, too; though damn, I can't believe any version of me would name the dumbass after a battery. I wonder who closed that case, if it wasn't me? Maybe he never got recruited in the first place." He shakes his head as another thought strikes him. "Damn, how did I even get recruited, if you weren't there to do it? Did your old partner, Dee, take me in? Wish I'd thought to ask Oh."
"Oh was still around?" Kay asks, turning back toward Jay as he reaches up to unknot his tie, then nods to himself thoughtfully. "That's right, you recognized her, too." Something in the set of his shoulders projects relief; he really does respect the woman, and gets a kick out of their little rituals. But he insists there ain't nothing between them. Why the hell not, regs or no regs, Jay can't figure. Or maybe there was, once, and Kay just doesn't want to admit it hadn't worked out? They've got their rituals, too: the man does get an indecent amount of pleasure out of tweaking Jay's nose, sometimes.
"So you do remember it all," Jay smirks at him. "Griffin seemed to think no one would remember me being there if everything went back the way I remembered it- but then you killed Boris instead of arresting him, so. Kinda wondered how much of it stuck in your head."
Kay shucks the tie and jacket over the back of the chair by the fireplace, then gives him a grudgingly sympathetic look. "Minute I saw the watch in that kid's hand- your hand- I knew I'd never be able to forget a damn thing."
"Forty damn years," Jay shakes his head, still amazed at the memory of that scene: the double shock of recognition, and the way he could almost see Kay's expression snapping shut as he dealt with little James Edwards the Third. Had he been what happened to Kay? He doesn't want to believe it; the thought is almost too slippery to get a grip on, nearly as problematic as the concept that his dad was a hero, and that it was partly because of Jay himself that he hadn't grown up knowing him. So he dredges up a grin, brushes it all aside and steps into the apartment, closing the door behind him.
"Man. You must've been laughing your ass off when you ran into me again. On the inside."
"Something like that," Kay says, suppressing another smile. It looks good on him. He'd been so damn tense after he'd realized Boris was out- and he hadn't exactly been a ray of sunshine for the preceding few months, either. He must've realized it was about time for everything that had happened... to go ahead and happen.
Jay isn't even going to touch the whole 'trained a replacement' phase. He still counts those absent years when he totals up the span of their partnership; he'd liked Elle, but she'd never been Kay. Okay, so it must've been depressing, meeting his unaware, punk-assed self and knowing he couldn't talk to him about their actual first meeting for another fourteen years- time Kay still wouldn't be spending with the gal he'd left behind in 1961. He'd done his duty and brought Jay in so the timeline wouldn't collapse; then he'd looked up at the stars and tried to call it quits.
It must have been a real mindfuck to deal with, and coming back from his postmaster vacation even more so, after that romance had flopped for the second time. Plus the Laurana thing; Kay must've met her maybe eight years after Jay fell in and out of his life, only to lose her, too. But he's been the same old Kay- as far as Jay had known to expect- since the deneuralization. Which means what, in context?
"All this time you been holding on to this secret. Bet you got a real kick out of giving me shit with the noisy cricket and making me deliver Reggie's baby, after the way I mocked your battery-belt neuralizer and tried to pull senior agent rank on you."
Kay's slight smirk replies for him. All right, fair enough.
"Anything you want to ask- or yell about- now that it's all over with?"
Kay tilts his head, considering, and crosses the room again, pausing an arm's length away. They've been in closer quarters over the years they've known each other- there've been some damn uncomfortable stakeouts, for one thing- but none of those moments have felt quite this charged, somehow.
"I wasn't actually sure you were going to make it back," he replies, quietly. "You said you'd be fine, that you'd go back on your own. But there was something in your expression when you said it. Like all that really mattered was that I didn't die."
Jay swallows. He's been carrying that all these years? "Yeah, well, you didn't."
"No, I didn't." Kay smiles- almost a real smile, this time; warmer than the one he puts on when he's bullshitting for the neuralizer.
"And I am fine," Jay continues; though he's starting to wonder. What the hell? After fourteen years of partnership, all the crazy shit they've been through? No breaking the regs for Oh- but never a hint of breaking them for Jay, either. And the man is like seventy. No one's that patient.
"So I see." Kay's smile widens.
Then again, Jay's approaching middle age faster than he wants to admit. And has been burying a stupid amount of affection for the guy for years behind skirt-chasing of his own, curmudgeonliness and dirt coffee and country music notwithstanding. And- it suddenly occurs to him that when he'd told twenty-nine year old Kay all they had was each other, and that the primary reason he'd come back wasn't to save Earth but to save his partner, he might've given a certain... entirely accurate impression of how he felt about him that hasn't been substantiated since.
"Uh, Kay." Jay swallows. "Tell me you ain't been waiting all this time for me to catch up."
"Don't be stupid," Kay snorts, reaching out- to unknot Jay's tie. "I'm not a saint." But Jay notices he doesn't exactly deny it, either.
Infuriating, secretly sentimental bastard. Jay almost lightens the moment with a joke about little blue alien pills- but Kay doesn't wait for a reply, and a second later, a suit-clad thigh pressed between Jay's provides ample evidence that chemical assistance won't be necessary.
"I'll say," he chuckles, as soon as he can breathe again. Kay's eyeing him with a cautious expression, like he's waiting for Jay to break out the bluster and bolt on him, but his body don't lie. "Good thing old, busted hotness is what does it for me, then."
"Sure it's not Stockholm Syndrome?" Kay half-jokes, arching a brow.
"Sure you ain't bullshitting me again? 'Cause if you are, I'mma kill you this time- for real."
"There's no possible future where you're the death of me," Kay smirks.
Jay chuckles breathlessly and fists a hand in Kay's shirt. That's enough of an answer for him. "Well then, this ain't exactly a raygun in my pocket, if you follow me," he replies.
They're neither of them young anymore, and Jay doubts anything they do now is going to change all the ways their personalities grind against each other. It'll just- add a physical aspect. But it won't take anything away from them, either, except for fourteen years of unacknowledged tension. And he bets if he asked Griffin, the fifth dimensional dude would say this has always been coming: for those same fourteen years, and forty, and since just this morning.
Who is Jay to argue with that kind of destiny?
...Well, other than to set it right. There is still that jump device burning a hole in his pocket. And didn't Kay say once that some relative of his was involved in some youth-and-strength serum project during World War II? Jay makes a mental note to look it up.
Later, though. For now? He groans, and lets Kay shut him up.