A very happy birthday to Gamma Orionis! I hope you enjoy it, love!

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It's silent.

Both of them are wondering what the hell they are doing, what the hell this is, but neither of them want to break the silence to ask, because that would require acknowledging this. Acknowledging it out loud.

That makes it all too real.

The silence, though, is deafening. Eventually — surprisingly — it is Rabastan that breaks it.

"What are we doing, Rod?"

Rodolphus mutters an explicative that doubles as an answer to his question and Rabastan is tempted to laugh but he doesn't, not aloud, because he knows this conversation needs to happen and it won't if he laughs — because they'll laugh it off and never bring it up again.

"I'm serious. What are we doing?"

Rodolphus isn't meeting his eyes, which strikes Rabastan as odd, because that's usually his role. "I don't know, Rabastan."

And Rabastan isn't really sure how to respond to that. He's used to cool, calm, in charge Rodolphus. Because that's how Rodolphus is. Even if he has absolutely no idea what to do, he knows enough to bluff it. Rabastan isn't really sure he's ever heard Rodolphus admit to not knowing something before.

"This is wrong." The words escape Rabastan's mouth in a whisper, before he even knows that he intends to say them. He has unconsciously ducked his head, and he lifts it now to finally meet Rodolphus' gaze.

"Yes, it is." Rodolphus' voice is cool.

"But it still happened." Rabastan isn't sure why, but he's still whispering. "And that means something."

Something flares in Rodolphus' eyes. "It doesn't mean anything, Rabastan! It doesn't mean anything because it can't mean anything, all right? It can't!"He turns his back to his brother and Rabastan watches his shoulders rise and fall too quickly and he knows that no matter how much it shouldn't mean anything, that doesn't mean it doesn't mean anything.

Only he isn't sure how to say that, so all he says is, "But it does."

"It can't!" Rodolphus yells, whirling back around. Rabastan shrinks back, wrapping his hands around his knees in an unconsciously protective gesture, and Rodolphus deflates immediately. "I'm sorry, Rab," he murmurs. "I'm sorry. It's just…"

"I know," Rabastan says. "I know." But he doesn't move. Rodolphus sighs, and he takes two steps forward toward Rabastan's position at the end of the bed. He extends a hand and places it softly on Rababan's shoulder. Without thinking, and as he has done so many times before, Rabastan twists and buries his face in Rodolphus' chest.

"Nothing can change, Rabastan."

Rabastan lets out a slow breath. "I know that. But it still will. Maybe not because of this, but it will. You're leaving."

"I have to."

"I know that."

When Rabastan leaves the room minutes later, he doesn't really feel like they've settled anything at all.