|Location||Richard's Apartment - Mutant Town|
|Summary||Richard and Jeremy try to navigate their differences.|
| A cramped, tiny studio. It's messy, but not necessarily dirty. (Usually.) The kitchenette has the barest amount of space to warrant the name, and the rest of the apartment is mostly his bed and shelving. The latter of the two is stuffed to the brim with paperbacks, comic books, and a few model starships; science fiction, particularly of the pulpier kind, is the focus of the collection.|
Now that his liquidity is more or less reestablished, Jeremy is back to trying to feed Richard both by inviting him over for dinner and by bringing him food. In this case, he turned up at his apartment well after work hours in a puffy ridiculous winter coat that would make no sense on an ordinary September evening, hugging a foil-covered pie pan to his chest that he brought over on the subway, to message him from downstairs via text message like, It's fucking freezing out here. Please let me in before I get hypothermia and die.
POOR JEREMY. Richard buzzes him right on up, looking at him sympathetically when he finally makes it upstairs to his apartment. "Kind of crazy, right? I mean, I guess it's technically fall, but--" He closes the door behind him. "Does this mean winter's gonna be just as bad as last year?"
"I dunno," Jeremy sighs glumly. "I made pot pie. Well-- technically it's not pot pie, because it's pie. It's pie-sized pie. But from my pot pie recipe." He shuffles over to Richard's teensy kitchenette to put it down, and then takes his inhaler out of his pocket and takes a couple of hits off it like he's addicted to breathing, or something, before he starts finally wriggling out of the ridiculous puffy coat. "Winter, man. It's barely fall. I want a refund."
Richard shifts closer to help him with the coat, looking faintly baffled. "What makes it a pot pie? Does it have to be small enough? Is there a max size or something? I feel like some pots are pie-sized." HOW DOES THIS WORK.
"I-- don't know. I don't know what makes the pot in the pot pie." Jeremy allows Richard to help him divest himself of the puffy coat. Beneath it, he's wearing a collared shirt with a checked pattern of blue and white, and a pair of slacks. There's no tie anywhere to be found, although he was wearing one when he was in the office today. Before Richard can escape with the coat, Jeremy wraps his arms around his waist and squeezes tight. It's not without awkwardness, on account of the bulky coat. "Hi," he mumbles.
Richard huffs a quiet laugh as he tries to navigate the coat off of his boyfriend, who is now clinging to his waist. "Hi," he replies. He leans in to press a brief kiss to his mouth. "You're looking very professional."
"I try. Gotta make it rain." Jeremy inhales a deep breath and closes his eyes for a moment as he noses at Richard's cheek, before finally drawing back and permitting him to escape. "Would you buy a temporary service contract from this man?" He points his thumbs at himself and attempts to smile winningly. He looks kind of worn out. It's been one of those days.
Richard laughs. He then swiftly realizes that this is probably not the most assuring response, and he reaches to tug at Jeremy's collar instead. The puffy coat is sort of awkwardly draped over his arm. "I think I've seen him in a really dumb Star Trek shirt with a pun that I'd trust more."
"Do I have a dumb Star Trek shirt?" Jeremy stops and looks puzzled. Turning an abstracted look off into the middle distance, he muses: "When I was in college I used to have one of those beam me up scotty there's no intelligent life down here bumper stickers that I wore on my messenger bag--"
"Oh. That might've been you borrowing one of mine." Richard probably has multiples ones. He leans in again to drop another kiss, this time to his cheek, before he peels off to find somewhere to stick his coat. Oh look, on this chair will do.
Jeremy chuckles, low in his throat, and ambles after him to wrap his arms around him again, this time from behind. He leans into his back, warm and solid. "I'll wear whatever you like," he says. He drops a kiss to the side of Richard's neck.
"Very generous of you." Richard stills in his arms, smile quiet and crooked. His fingers trail lightly along Jeremy's arm. "You okay?" he asks, gentler.
"Mmm. Yeah. Just tired." Jeremy inhales deeply again, this time more like he's breathing the scent off Richard's skin just by proximity, and the exhalation of his low sigh stirs through the tousle of his hair. "I did a lot of talking today, a lot of it fast talking, and a lot if it leading kinda nowhere. And I finally did make a sale ... while I was at home and up to my elbows in flour. Just goes to show, I guess."
"What, fast talking? You? I can't even picture it." Richard gives Jeremy's arm a squeeze. "Man, I'd never be able to do what you do. What you do is -- well, kind of amazing."
"Well, I certainly couldn't punch people for money very effectively, so..." Jeremy tilts his head up, to kiss Richard's temple. He holds on for a moment longer, and then shakes his head a little as he draws back, stretching his arms above his head as he goes to toe out of his shoes and leave them in a corner. "I guess it's weird to be this much of a nerd and to have social skills, but it's kinda what I got. Being a people person."
"I have social skills," Richard says, just a little -- or humorously -- affronted. "You just have more. And seem excited to do it most of the time, which is the most alien part to me." He glances back over at the kitchen counter. With the pie.
"You have a naturally very high charisma score," Jeremy disputes, and chortles to himself. "Whereas I put all of my skill points in social skills." He wanders over to the kitchenette so that he can investigate the state of Richard's ... plate(s). "So when women throw themselves at you, you are confused and alarmed, whereas when women throw themselves at me, it's probably my fault for misaiming my charm weapons."
"Women don't throw themselves at me," Richard scoffs, attempting to hunt down two of his very rare plates to assist Jeremy. "And if they did, I wouldn't be /alarmed/."
"I'm pretty sure what you were describing was alarm when you told me about Valerie," Jeremy says, peeling back the foil and checking the level of warmth remaining in his pie. "I mean, among other things. Maybe I better reintroduce this bad boy to your microwave for a minute..."
"That wasn't -- alarm," Richard argues, just a touch defensive. "I was just -- you know. Surprised. Or -- something." He shoves his hands in his pockets, squinting suddenly at Jeremy. "Did someone throw themselves are you?"
"Nah, that was a gross overstatement," Jeremy says, putting the glass pie plate into the microwave for thirty seconds and then turning about to face Richard as he leans back into the counter, in the close quarters of the tiny kitchen. "She just threatened to kiss me."
"How awful," Richard says, expression full of sympathy. "That must have been so difficult."
Jeremy gives Richard a slightly uncertain look. He hesitates for a beat and then says, "Well-- I mean, not in this context, since it was Valerie, but--"
Something seems to, just slightly, click. "Is this a conversation?" Richard asks. "Are we -- having a conversation right now? Are we having /the/ conversation?"
"I mean-- what ... the conversation ... are you talking about having?" Jeremy asks cautiously. He opens the microwave, pulls the pie out of it, and carefully sets the dish down on the counter, before going to start apportioning slices onto Richard's plates. "That sounds like a pretty serious the. I don't want to pursue Valerie, if that's the the."
"I mean. You know." Richard shifts a little bit in his lean against the counter. "The one where people are, like -- picking you up. And realities start -- becoming real."
Leaving pie to sit out on the plates, Jeremy turns back to face him again. "Maybe not yet," he says, "but close enough where I feel like we gotta talk about it like it's going to be real."
"Right." Richard scrubs a hand through his hair, looking a bit -- nervous. And a little lost. "Um. How do we -- talk about that?" Help.
Jeremy takes the single step it takes to bridge the space between them in the enclosed space of the kitchen, and reaches up to take one of Richard's hands in his. He rubs his thumb along Richard's knuckles and says, quietly, "I love you. And I want you to be happy. And-- I want you to be comfortable. But it makes me feel very strange not knowing ... what's going to be okay. I know ... I've never had the kind of relationship where it's wrong. To be open to exploring... things. It's a very strange feeling knowing that flirting around with a random person could-- hurt you somehow. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. The last thing I ever want to do is cause you pain. It's almost like a tight squeezing anxiety around my chest and I'm pretty sure that's only supposed to feel that way if you're-- going to go into cardiac arrest."
"I don't--" Richard looks at Jeremy, his expression creasing. "I don't want to hurt you either. And I don't want to -- to /stifle/ you. You should just--" He takes in a breath, looking a little desperate. "You should just -- do what you want. You know? You should just do it."
"Rich..." Jeremy hesitates. He tugs on his hand a little, drawing closer to him, and then drops his hands to frame at Richard's hips as he looks into his face. "You're so uncomfortable and you're trying so hard."
"I don't know how not to be!" Richard says, utterly helpless as he throws up his arms. "My /entire life/, everything around me told me that being in love with someone meant that you were just with them, and I /know/ that it feels different for you, I /get/ that, and I'm /trying/ here, but I'm not just going to suddenly be okay without /effort/. You can't get upset because I have to /try/."
"I'm not upset," Jeremy says quietly. "I appreciate that you're trying. I'm ... touched that you're willing to try." He moistens his lips, and swallows; his gaze drops, and then lifts again. "I've been doing a lot of reading about trying to make polyamory and monogamy interact, because ... research, I guess. I mean okay it's the internet but, you know. And everything says communication is key. That if you feel something you should say it. So I'm trying to do that. I guess?" He bites a little at the inside of his cheek. "Is there anything I can do that will make this less hard for you? I mean, besides just-- not. Which I haven't ruled out. Trying. To just not. It seems unfair that you're willing to try for me but I'm--."
"I don't want to force you to be something you're not," Richard says, just a little fiercely. "That's like -- forcing someone to be straight, or -- whatever." Someone's been reading over here, too. "I'm not gonna be the reason for that. I just -- I don't know, maybe you should just -- go do it. Just. I don't know, Jeremy, it's tense and it's stressful to think about, but then I kind of feel like thinking about it is /worse/, and I just want to know how I'll feel when it's /real/--"
"Oh. When we're talking about like ... a real person. Not an idea of a person." Jeremy settles his weight back on his heels and thinks about this for a long moment, an intent, pondering look on his face. "Well," he says after this pause, "I can try and put myself out there and see what happens. I mean, let's be clear here -- Valerie threatening to make out with me aside there's not a lot of ... people throwing themselves at me. I thought it might be better if ... we looked for a third. Together? But then that might be scary too?"
"Do you need me to throw myself at you?" Richard asks, humor a little forced. Hah. Hah hah. "A third's not -- scary. I mean, I've done that before. I managed not to /entirely/ embarrass myself."
"Rich, if I were to take you to a particular kind of club, I'm pretty sure you'd have people of whatever gender crawling all over you in minutes," Jeremy tells him seriously. "I'm not implying that you'd embarrass yourself, here. Sometimes-- a poly person can be in just one relationship for a long time. But if it's hanging out there over your head, like ... you're afraid that seeing another person will make me lose sight of us ... if we went looking together I thought that might be less stressful. I don't know. This is new to me, too."
"Man, the actual sex part is way more complicated than the stuff before," Richard says with a thin laugh. He scrubs a hand over his face, gaze averting from Jeremy for a moment as he tries to think. "Yeah," he finally says. "I think that's -- okay. We could do that."
"Okay," Jeremy says quietly. He hesitates for a moment, and then says, "You're irreplaceably precious to me, rocket man. I hope I don't do or say anything that ever -- puts that into doubt."
Richard inhales slowly, and when he exhales that deep breath, the knit of his muscles are a bit easier. "No," he says. He steps closer to drop his forehead against Jeremy's. "Sometimes things are just -- contrary to my first instinct, you know?"
"Yeah." Jeremy slides his hands up Richard's back, drawing closer as he smiles a faint smile. "I get it. Or I try to get it. I think I do." Working his throat in a swallow, he then adds in a low voice, "But to reward you for your effort on my behalf, tonight, after you eat your pie, I'm going to give you the best blow job of my entire blow job career."
Richard snorfles a little, face dropping a bit into Jeremy's hair. "Is that a good idea?" he wonders. "I mean, isn't it all downhill from there?"
Jeremy cackles a little and slides one arm into a stronger pressure curving about Richard's neck as he lifts his head, grin pulling wide and crooked. "To date," he says. "My entire blow job career to date. You know how I like to challenge myself."
"Well. That's a relief." Richard threads his fingertips through Jeremy's hair, corners of his mouth twitching. "I wouldn't want you to hit your peak at -- you know, your very young, youthful age."
"Tch. Some things improve with practice, young man." Jeremy squeezes tight for a beat more, and then begins to disentangle himself. "Eat your food. You'll want to get your strength up.""Oh my God," is probably not the most supportive reaction, but it's what Richard says in the midst of a cackle. He does eat his pie, though. It's delicious and strengthening and all sorts of necessary for the night ahead.