|One Last Night|
|Summary||Jeremy and Richard have one last night in California.|
It's been a few days soaked in the California sun, spending as much time out of this room and with Gray as he could. Now, it's Saturday night. They're leaving tomorrow, because Jeremy has scheduled a bunch of meetings with potential clients on Tuesday in an effort to lure himself back to his responsibilities in New York.
The hotel room is not super fancy. It does, however, contain a king bed, a slightly dilapidated bedspread, and access to a washer and dryer only a few doors down, next to the ice machine. Jeremy returns from the hotel laundry with the hotel laundry basket under his arm, having washed all their clothes -- except the ones they're currently wearing, obviously -- possibly for something to do with nervous energy. He's been unusually quiet for the past couple hours since his child was dropped back off at his mother's.
Richard is lying in bed, back propped against the headboard, with a battered paperback in hand that he's been reading while Jeremy's been working off nervous energy. His gaze lifts when his boyfriend returns, marking his body and expression, and he offers him a quick smile. "Thanks," he says. "You didn't really need to clean my stuff."
"It would have cost a whole additional dollar to do a separate load, how does that make sense?" Jeremy ruffles his hand back through the loose fall of his long hair and drops the laundry basket on the foot of the bed. Fidget ill contained, he scrubs his hands next down the front of his jeans and then sits down on the edge of the giant bed.
"I guess I don't know," Richard says, voice mild and reasonable. He watches Jeremy and then reaches out to try and nudge his hip with his bare foot. "Hey."
Rather than mess with their clothes anymore, Jeremy responds to the nudge by dropping into a backward lean on his elbows on the bed, tilting his head also backward to roll a look up at Richard. He breathes out in a low sigh, and says, "Hi."
"How you doing?" Richard asks gently, tucking his finger into his book and closing it in his lap. "Are you okay?"
Jeremy flops backward onto his back the rest of the way and looks up at the ceiling, his hands loose across his stomach. He doesn't answer for a long moment, his brow faintly knit.
Richard sets the book aside, face-down, on the nightstand, and turns his attention more fully to Jeremy. He inches forward on his butt to get close enough to reach a hand to brush Jeremy's hair back from his forehead. He doesn't press with additional questions.
"I don't know," Jeremy says. He bites a little at the inside of his cheek, and reaches up to scrub his hand at his face. The first night they were here, he spent most of his tears on the subject of fatherhood and there hasn't been a recurrence. Now he lies here looking ... a little lost. "It seems weird to be leaving," he says at length.
"Because this is where Gray is?" Richard prompts gently. His fingertips continue to stroke their way through the fluff of Jeremy's hair.
"Yeah. To affirmatively take action to leave where my child is. It seems wrong." Jeremy rubs at his eyes with his thumb and middle finger, and then shifts. He moves to scoop his Eyes out of his eyes and detatch himself from all of the demands and interests of the entire outside internet, and then has to sit up to put them in their case on the nightstand.
Richard's hand falls away when Jeremy sits up, giving him space to figure out the safekeeping of his Eyes for a moment. Then his fingertips trail along his back. "Did you ever consider -- I mean, when you left Xavier's, before you started X-Factor. Did you ever consider moving out here instead?"
"When there was a restraining order against me? No." Jeremy slumps under the trail of Richard's touch, breath trickling out of him in a slow sigh. "I mean, there were probably times I thought about it. Or thought about storming in like a commando raid. But ... California's no place to be a mutant with no marketable job experience outside criminal justice and secondary ed ... If Janie's mother didn't own that house I don't know how she ever could have started her car shop."
"It does seem accurate that you're not much good to Gray broke and without a job," Richard says. His fingers trail up to press his thumb into the line of his spine at the back of his neck. "You're doing what you can, Jeremy," he says. "You're doing the best you can."
Jeremy drops his elbows to his knees and leans forward, bowing under an invisible weight as Richard's touch presses into his neck. He presses both his hands against his face and then slides them up, their heels against his eyes. He says: "Yeah."
Richard's touch stills, his brow faintly knit as he watches Jeremy press his hands to his face. Then he shifts to settle behind Jeremy, arms curling around his shoulders so that he can gather him to his chest from behind. His cheek presses against the blond fluff of Jeremy's hair. Again, he doesn't say anything, but his touch speaks volumes.
Jeremy leans back into him, letting the encompassing wrap of Richard's arms warm him through the thin fabric of his shirt. He sniffs once and then drops his hands, letting them fall loosely into his lap as his head turns slightly. He says, "You know, my parents had this ... this partnership of a marriage. Really loving, really ... unified. I always knew lots of single parent or divorced parent kids, you know, growing up, but it -- it was so far from my life that I didn't... ever think I would grow up to be the kind of person who couldn't make a relationship work."
"Jeremy--" Richard pauses, taking in a slow breath as he gathers his words for a moment before letting them spill. "I'm sure your parents worked a whole lot at that, yeah, but they also clearly just -- chose the right person. Making a relationship work doesn't mean making /any/ relationship work. Sometimes you're just with the wrong person. Period. That's not a personal failure."
"Mmm." Jeremy doesn't entirely agree, clearly. He rubs his thumb along the inside of his opposite palm and then says, "I know, I know. I mean, you saw me and Jane. You can imagine what a disaster we were."
"But at one point you both thought you'd make each other happy. It's not a crime to be wrong about that." Richard cards his fingers through Jeremy's hair again. "Forgive yourself for being wrong. You're doing your best to move forward with what you have."
Jeremy makes a grumbling noise in the depths of his throat and rubs at his eyes once more. Then he shifts again, pulling away from Rich but only so that he can fold his leg beneath him and turn to actually look in his direction, knee set against the surface of the bed. His eyes are downcast, though, as he says, "I'm not sorry -- I mean. I just wish it were different. For Gray. To have a dad. Not a sometimes dad or a vacation dad."
"You're still his dad, whether or not you're in California," Richard points out, gentle but firm on this point.
Jeremy shakes his head but does not otherwise reply. He looks glum, studying his own hands for a long moment.
Richard's jaw tenses when Jeremy clearly disagrees with him. He reaches to trace his thumb along the line of his jaw, and then his hand drops to take one of Jeremy's from his lap and lace their fingers together.
Jeremy closes his eyes as he clasps Richard's hand tightly in the intertwine of their fingers. He breathes, slowly. He says, "It's so far."
Richard takes a slow breath, swallowing his instinctive first response. Instead, he simply says, "It is."
"I mean we can't just do this," Jeremy says. He runs his fingers through his hair -- those of his other, unclaimed hand -- as he opens his eyes again. "Shit."
"Can't just do what?" Richard asks him softly. His thumb brushes gently over the back of his hand where their fingers are clasped.
"I can't just -- come here." Jeremy shakes his head again and looks up at him with a rueful twist of his mouth. "It's going to be so hard to leave but there's so much in New York that needs me to actually be there, like all of me, too, not with half my heart out here in Murrieta." (I am now going to remember that this is the suburb I picked, I swear.)
Richard is quiet a long moment, just holding his hand and studying his face. Finally he asks, "What do you want to do?"
"I don't know," Jeremy says quietly. He leans forward into him, dropping his forehead so that it leans heavily into Richard's shoulder. He says, "I just ... don't know."
"Do you--" Richard's voice is careful when he asks, "Do you want to stay?" His free hand lifts to stroke gently at the back of Jeremy's hair when his head drops to his shoulder.
"What, just like ... abandon my work and leave everybody at X-Factor to fend for themselves? No." Jeremy seems to be trying to burrow into Richard a little bit, nosing into his shoulder as he draws a long breath of air in against his sleeve.
"The fact that you have a company in New York doesn't mean that you aren't allowed to think about anything else," Richard tells him. And, after a much longer hesitation, he says, "And I'd come. If you needed to leave."
"We're definitely not in a position where I can afford to be gone for long stretches of time." Jeremy sighs a little. He sits up again, slowly, as with great reluctance, as he lifts his gaze to Richard's face. "The only reason I can even see him now is that we're afloat enough that I've been able to pay child support."
"I hate that I can't fix this for you," Richard admits, the frustration clear in his voice. He squeezes Jeremy's hand.
Jeremy almost laughs -- a little hitch in his breath. "Sorry," he says. He lifts his other hand to Richard's cheek, curling the backs of his fingers down it to his jaw, where he lifts his thumb to trace beneath his lip. "You've done a lot for me. Letting me haul you around and do kiddie stuff for days."
"No, I didn't -- I'm sorry, this isn't about me. It's about you." Richard's shoulders slump, and he attempts a faint smile when Jeremy's traces under his lip. "Hey, I liked meeting your kid. Gray's great."
"I think so." Jeremy inhales and then smiles a little ruefully. Shake of his head slight, he says, "Janie's ... we've got our issues but she's done a good job being Mom on her own."
"Yeah. It seems like she has." Richard's gaze tracks over Jeremy's expression, his smile soft. "Whatever else, Gray is safe. And cared for. And happy, I think. You and Jane are both doing your best."
Jeremy frees his hand from Richard's fingers only to slide both his arms around him and lean in close for an embrace where they both sit on the giant bed. He squeezes tight in the pressure of his arms. He mutters, "Fuck."
Richard winds his arms around Jeremy and squeezes tight, staying silent for several heartbeats through the embrace. Eventually he turns his cheek against Jeremy's hair and asks, "Do you wanna watch bad TV or something?"
Jeremy laughs a little. "That depends," he says, his fingertips dragging down Richard's back in a long drag. "How bad are we talking about here?"
"Well, I haven't actually tried flipping through the channels," Richard admits. "I'm mostly just finding ways to distract you."
Jeremy laughs a little more. He runs his knuckles along Richard's shoulders as he draws back a little, huff of breath ghosting past his teeth as he smiles. He says, "What, with your shirt still on?" and then he laughs again.
One eyebrow lifts. "Is that what you need? I mean, it didn't really seem appropriate to the mood, but--" Richard shifts just enough to tug his shirt off over his head.
Jeremy cackles and smears his hand over his face, his breath coming in almost a wheezy gasp. He slouches back onto the bed, flopping into the pillows. "You're such a good boyfriend."
"Do you want me to -- I don't think there's anything I can do pull-ups on, but maybe push-ups--" Richard glances around the room for something that could support his weight.
"No, no, don't do push-ups. You're gorgeous but I'm tired and whiny just thinking about it." Jeremy's bends his leg, reaching to peel his sock off and throw it on the floor, and then whuffs his head back against the pillows.
"Are you sure?" Richard stretches out on the bed in a dramatically posey sort of fashion, muscles flexing. "You don't want me to perform for your objectification?"
"Nah." Jeremy watches him with a wide smile and admits, "Though when you do that it makes me want to find some grapes to feed you or something."
"Well, I do like grapes." Richard rolls onto his side, arching a bit to flex his abs and stretching his arm up over his head. "Am I distracting enough?"
"You're pretty distracting," Jeremy says, complacently agreeable. He shifts, folding his arms behind his head and stretching out his legs across the bed as he watches Richard with a crooked smile warming his face. "Thank you for making it how wildly obvious it was that I won the breakup."
"Yes, you snagged a depressed, underemployed drunk with unrestrainted guilt issues," Richard agrees solemnly. He slides over to straddle Jeremy's hips. "Good job."
"Please." Jeremy shifts and wriggles a little beneath Richard, resettling himself against the pillows. "You sell yourself so short even while you are parading yourself for my delectation."
"Well, I never said I was out of shape," Richard points out from above Jeremy. "That's kind of a practical necessity: fighting for money is one of the most reliable sources of income I've had at times."
"There's lots of good things about you besides how amazing you look with your shirt off and how good your cock feels when you fuck me," Jeremy says with easy, off the cuff good humor like he's not said anything remotely dirty. "You're warm and giving and passionate and dedicated ... And you saved the galaxy like, a month ago."
It's probably the unexpectedness of that moment of dirtiness that has Richard's skin flushing the slightest bit. He exhales slowly and dips his head to nip carefully at Jeremy's neck. "Yeah, well, I had superpowers for that," he murmurs.
Jeremy grins, visibly pleased with himself. He's quiet for a moment as he draws his hand up to fluff through Richard's hair and then slide over the warm skin of his back. "Sure," he says, tilting his head back against the pillows. "Even so."
"Listen, I'm about as good at taking compliments as you are," Richard rumbles against Jeremy's throat.
"Good point." Jeremy cackles a little at this, squirming and wriggling beneath him once more only to settle and murmur, more quietly: "Thank you for -- all of this, Rich."
Richard pulls back far enough to look at Jeremy's face; he studies it with a close sweep of his gaze for a moment. "You're welcome," he says. "And you're also welcome for me restraining myself from just shrugging off your thanks."
"I'm not sure if it's possible for me to make clear how impossible this whole thing would've been without you." Jeremy bites his lip, looking up at him with sober seriousness weighting his glance where moments ago he was laughing and/or smug. "Even-- I'm not talking about the transportation. I mean giving myself permission to leave. To be a human being for five days. I don't know. Who knows what I even mean." He reaches up to frame Richard's face in the curve of his fingers. "I'm just-- I'm not just glad you brought me. I'm really glad you came."
"I'm -- glad I came, too," Richard says, ducking his head a bit and looking a little self-conscious. He's looking slowly restless under the weight of the moment and leans down suddenly to press a kiss to Jeremy's mouth instead.
Jeremy answers this distraction with ready warmth, permitting this particularly physical escape as he tangles his fingers in a tousle of Richard's dark hair.
"I love you," Richard murmurs against his lips, and then he's twisting his fingers in Jeremy's hair (no need for a hand or elbows to brace your weight when you can just hover) and turning the kiss deeper with very clear intention and forward momentum. We all know where this goes.Yeah we definitely know.