Title: Let Me Down Easy
Fandom: Common Law
Rating: PG-13 (talk of sexy things, but no actual smut)
Word Count: 3001. And yes, that one word makes a difference, darnit!
Warnings: Language, emotions, too much introspection for six pages worth of words
Cookies to: skyesurfer12. Thank you for the return favor. Again.
Spoilers: None that I can think of offhand, but you now officially know that I’m a dork of epic proportions. (This still fits, so I’m leaving it)
Hate mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Well, this is the end. Maybe. My lovely friend up there ^^ gave me a great idea for a therapy session after the fact… or after the sexin’, whichever. But, I don’t know if I can pull it off or not. I do know that it will be fun to try at least. So, watch this space…
Let Me Down Easy
Four AM. He blinked, then rubbed his eyes for good measure. Yup. Still four o'clock. Wes arched his back, loosening the stiffness in his aching muscles. At the height of a most delicious stretch, Wes' shoulder brushed against something hard and warm.
It all suddenly came into focus. Dr. GoodLove's love potion. The car. His poor couch. A headache began building at the back of his head and he didn't know if it was from the imminent love cologne hangover or from the sudden understanding that he'd spent the better part of yesterday sexing his partner.
And liking it.
He didn’t remember much about what happened after they’d vacated the living room and reconnected in his bedroom - Hah! Reconnected. There’s a good word, Wes. Lovely case of denial you have going on - but he was slowly starting to piece it together. Bits and pieces of the night flooded his memory. Kisses in the dark, touches he couldn’t resist, the slide of skin on skin. Amazingly enough, they took turns, teasing and taunting, loving and fucking. Vaguely, Wes recalled an appearance by someone’s handcuffs and, judging by the bruises blossoming around his wrists, he assumed that they had not been his set.
Sighing, Wes sat up and looked around. His hotel room had never been so wrecked. Somebody’s pants were lying across the dresser, Travis’, he surmised in the darkness. His suit jacket was on the floor. The comforter for the bed was MIA and the sheets had been ripped from their nicely tucked corners. Only Travis could come into someone’s life and, in the space of fourteen hours completely and utterly turn it on its head. He had started to realize that he wasn’t nearly as disturbed by this as he should be. And that worried him.
Travis lay on his side, one arm tucked under the pillow, the other resting across his chest. Wes smiled at how peaceful he looked, body relaxed, chest rising and falling in a steady, unhurried rhythm. It never failed to amaze him how easily the boy was able to let go. To be honest, it made him just a little jealous because it was common knowledge that Wes wasn’t able to relax. Period.
He had a brief urge to wake Travis and start it all over again. To indulge in his body and revel in his scent. But he resisted. So far, the captain hadn’t called, wanting to know why they’d never made their second stop yesterday, but it was undoubtedly on the horizon. And by getting Travis – and himself – going this early, well, it was a possibility that they’d never leave his hotel room. Ever.
Besides, he had no idea if Travis was even interested in more than what had already gone before. Wes had known Travis for a long time and, in all those years, he’d never stayed with a woman for more than a night or two. The thought of being rejected after a couple rounds of sheer passion sent a lump of panic straight into Wes’ chest.
It’s the damn love potion talking, Wes, get a hold of yourself. Right. The eau du amore that Travis had slathered all over himself yesterday. He looked over at Travis again, happily snuggled into the warmth left by his body, and sighed. First order of business: a shower.
Leaving the bed instantly became the hardest thing he’d had to do all week. What if Travis wakes up? Something squeezed his chest tightly, forcing the panic up into his throat, cutting off his ability to breathe. What if he thinks I’ve abandoned him in my own home? His stomach rolled, the nausea simmering and threatening to overcome him. Oh God, what if he knows where I am and decides it’s the perfect time to sneak out without me knowing? Pain radiated across his chest, a sweat breaking out on his skin. What if…
“For the love of Mike, get a fuckin’ grip,” he scolded himself. “What the hell is wrong with you?”
“You’re too loud,” was the sleepy reply from his side. “That’s what’s wrong with you right now.” Travis cracked an eye and looked up at his partner-turned-lover. “Come back down here and keep me warm.”
The simple sound of that voice, heavy with sleep, helped put him at ease. Rushes of anxiety and doubt still flooded his nervous system, but it was lessened knowing Travis was still there, still being Travis. He closed his eyes and forced himself to clamp down on his raging emotions. “I will, but I need a shower first.”
Travis’ eyes were closed again but a smile graced his face. “Took you long enough,” he teased. “Figured you would have slunk off somewhere around midnight to do just that.”
He frowned at the man in his bed, knowing he couldn’t see it. “I was tempted, but every time I thought about it, I was given a better reason not to.” Wait, why did I just say that?
A chuckle rose from Travis’ chest, amusement and fond memories of doing exactly that flitted across his consciousness. “Go then, have your shower. I’ll be here. Snoring.”
Wes snorted. “Yeah, that I can believe.” Oh god, he’s going to stay. What do I do, what do I… “Don’t get too comfortable there though, Marks. You’re next. Need to wash off that stuff you decided to bathe in yesterday.”
“Stuff?” Travis was confused momentarily before Wes’ meaning sunk in. Oh. “Yeah man, okay. Just wake me when you’re…” The rest was consumed by a yawn of epic proportions.
Wes smiled down at him, watching his eyes drift closed and his face melt back into that sleep-relaxed perfection of minutes before. It took enormous effort to pull his gaze from Travis’ face, but he knew what he needed to do. As soon as possible.
Shower, Wes. Wash away the love making, wash away the potion, wash away your doubts.
As if it’d be that easy. He still had no clue if what he’d been feeling for the last fourteen hours was real or chemically induced. And if it still lingered even after all traces of the unnaturally-induced romping had been washed away? What would he do then? Guess we’ll figure that one out when we come to it, right? Right.
God, he wished that so much of this didn’t rest in Travis’ hands. Those strong, skilled hands.
He heard the bathroom door click closed, followed shortly by the sound of water hitting tile. Travis pushed himself wearily into a sitting position and looked at the empty side of the bed. It went without saying that he shouldn’t have been arrogant enough to even attempt to mess with the potion. But honestly, who would have even guessed it’d work, let alone be as potent as it was. He knew better and yet, couldn’t resist messing with Wes – he made it so easy sometimes - hoping for that chance to have what he’d wanted for so long. Even if he got it under false pretenses.
Travis supposed that made him a tiny bit pathetic, to be so willing to grab at Wes’ affections when they were only temporary and nowhere near to being real. But he’d understood from the very beginning that it wasn’t ever going to be. Wes had had a wife back then, for craps sake. How could he ever expect him to desire another guy, when it was obvious he wasn’t even interested in other women?
It didn’t change the way he felt, unfortunately. From day one, Wes had accepted him, trusted him, and treated him like an equal. Not something he’d gotten much of over the years so, when it’d come from someone like his by-the-books partner, it meant more. It mattered. It’s what caused him to fall so hard, so fast.
And to break so bitterly when he hit the bottom.
To his credit, he’d done a damn good job at keeping his feelings from Wes. As far as Travis knew, Wes didn’t suspect anything more than a very strong friendship between the two of them, despite what had just taken place. Repeatedly. And amazingly. He needed to pull himself together quickly because, if he kept on this train of thought, it’d be blazingly obvious the minute his partner laid eyes on him. There was no doubt all his fears were written in bold block letters across his face.
This was the reason why Travis was always the first to leave. He who did the leaving had the control. You weren’t forced to face the pain of rejection if you weren’t the one being left behind. Or pushed away. But for some reason, he found himself glued to his side of Wes’ bed, unable – unwilling – to be the one to leave this time. Wes would have to throw him out to get him to leave this time.
Their relationship had reached that point where it was now or never. Like he’d jokingly mentioned earlier, their partnership had already hit the rocks, hard, and they were currently stuck in therapy. How much more damage could his confession do? Aside from the obvious destruction of what was left of their relationship.
He’d finally convinced himself that this was what needed to happen, today, when the bathroom door opened, light spilling into the dark bedroom. For a second, Travis’ heart stopped beating, words wedged in his throat. Hot, humid air wafted in Wes’ wake as he made his way to the dresser beside the bed, white hotel towel wrapped tightly around his hips. Travis’ conviction melted in the steamy air, leaving him voiceless. The sight of Wes’ pale skin glistening in the muted light didn’t help much either.
“Oh, you are up,” Wes teased, spying his partner in a locked and upright position finally.
“Yeah,” he replied. “Look, Wes, there’s something we need to talk about…”
Crap. Here it comes. He knew it was a mistake. Hell, even I knew it was a mistake, but he smelled so good and I just couldn’t help it, couldn’t stop touching him and… Wes gave himself a mental head slap and tried to focus on what Travis was saying before freaking out. Maybe he…
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
Wes blinked. “Like what?”
“Like I just pulled a gun on you. Trust me. I’d recognize that look anywhere.” It was a lame joke, but it seemed to help. One corner of his lover’s mouth turned up slightly.
“Wha? Oh. Sorry. Just thinking about our to-do list for today.”
Travis smirked. “Does that list include me?” Please say yes…
“Trav, look,” he began, unsure of where to start. Start with the obvious. “You need to shower before we can do this.” He waved a hand in the general direction of the bed.
Something within him cracked, just a bit, when Travis’ face fell. Even though he struggled to pull it back into his typical casual grin, it wasn’t any use. Wes had seen it. And it hurt him to know that look was his fault. I have to fix this.
He climbed onto the end of the bed, crossing his legs and facing his partner. Taking one dark hand in his, he squeezed. “Look at me.” Reluctantly, Travis met Wes’ gaze, and held it, not breathing. “It’s not what you think, not really. I promise. I…” Wes was the one to look away, unsure and insecure. “I need to know if what I’m fe—feeling right now, I need to know if it’s real. I have to know that it’s not something chemically induced because I…” He took a deep breath and forced himself to meet Travis’ deep blue eyes one more time. “I refuse to be the one to hurt you.”
A slight hitching breath came from the body across from him. Wes watched Travis intently, holding his hand tightly, waiting for the tears to fall. Instead of waterworks, he was blessed with a giggle-snort of laughter followed by the kind of shy smile you’d never expect to see on Travis Marks’ face. Not in this lifetime. “Are you okay?”
“What’s so funny?”
“I was first afraid you were going to boot me out. Then,” he looked at the ceiling for encouragement, “I was afraid you were going to tell me just how big of a mistake this was.”
“Oh, this was a mistake,” he drawled, “and a big one, too, but not because of what you’re thinking.”
Travis was confused. “What are you babbling about?”
“Look. This is crazy. I can’t get enough of you. You obviously can’t get enough of me, either.” Travis snorted at this declaration. “But we have to still be able to work together. It’s not going to be easy.”
“It’s not as hard as you think,” Travis confessed.
Travis shrugged, feigning nonchalance despite his racing heart. “I’ve been in love with you for a long time, Wes. I’ve just… kept it to myself.”
Wes was dumbfounded. “You have? How… why?”
Travis’ brows pulled together as he studied his partner. “Why what?”
“Why me? Why haven’t you said anything? Just fucking why?”
“Why you? I don’t honestly know. Because you are you and that’s good enough for you. It damn well better be good enough for everyone else, too.” Wes laughed, knowing that that was exactly how he put himself out there in an effort to hide his fear of failing, of not being enough. “But why didn’t I say anything? One word, man: Alex.”
He nodded, it made sense. But it still sucked to know that his partner – his friend – had been having feelings all over the board for him and there was nothing he could do to help ease them. “Is that why you pulled that stupid stunt with the cologne?”
A faint blush crept into his cheeks. “Sorta. I mean, I didn’t honestly think it would work. You know, because it hadn’t worked for the perp?” At Wes’s nod of understanding, he continued. “I did it mostly to mess with you, but…”
“Well, you know. You were here. You saw how it played out.”
Wes grinned and it caused Travis’ insides to turn to liquid. “Yeah. I was here. And out there. And in the elevator, and the car…”
“And in the shower?” Travis raised his eyebrows in suggestion.
“You,” he chuckled, “are incorrigible.”
“You’ve been reading my social worker’s files again, haven’t you?”
Wes just shook his head. “I guess I should make a confession, too, now that we’re airing all our dirty laundry.” He paused and Travis waited patiently, giving him the same respect he’d been given earlier. “I was terrified that I’d finish my shower and you’d be gone.”
This took Travis aback. “I’d never leave you, Wes. You’re my partner. And my friend.” And more.
He nodded, slowly, taking time with the movement. “I know that, now. But I – I was afraid. I’m so tired of being alone.” Swallowing back the tears waiting to burst forth, he leaned forward and pushed at Travis’ shoulder. “Now, you still need to get in the fucking shower. I suggest you do it before we’re called out of here and you have to face the captain smelling like sweat and sex.”
“And you,” he added.
“And me,” he agreed, liking the way that made him feel inside. “Now mush. If you’re a good boy and you get your ass in the water in the next five minutes, maybe we can have dinner?”
“I’d like that.” Travis grinned and then faltered. “But, what… what if you’re not interested once I’m aphrodisiac-free?”
There was genuine fear in his partner’s face, it killed Wes to see it there. “I don’t have an answer for that other than I’ll always have your back. We’ll find a way to work through it. You, me, Dr. Ryan…”
“And all those wingwangs in our couple’s group.”
Wes smiled fondly. “Yeah, and them, too. Now MOVE.”
He watched Travis pull his naked self out of bed and lumber unhappily into the bathroom. As the door closed behind him and the shower started up again, Wes took a deep breath. Holding it for a moment, he made a promise to himself to give things – Travis - a chance, before blowing the air back out of his nose. Something occurred to him then. He cautiously took another sniff. And then another.
“I’ll be damned,” he mumbled.
“Are we going down this conversational route again,” Travis asked from the vicinity of the sink.
“Aren’t you in the shower yet,” he deflected.
“Not yet. And what are you out there muttering about anyway?”
“I can’t smell you,” he spluttered gleefully.
“You can’t what?”
“I. Can’t. Smell. You.” Wes enunciated each word clearly.
“And that’s a good thing?” He put a touch of mock-hurt into his reply.
“In this case, yeah, it is.” Wes made his way over to where Travis stood, using Wes’ razor. Oh lovely, Trav, thanks for asking first. He ghosted the tips of his fingers along the curve of one shoulder, testing. “It means that the potion’s worn off, you idiot.”
And I still want you. "And nothing. Everything. Hell, I don't know." He dropped Travis' jeans at his feet, having grabbed them on the way over. "I just know that I'm oddly looking forward to our dinner later. Now - get in the shower. Please don’t make me ask you again." He gave his partner a playful shove in the right direction.
"Okay, okay!" Travis winked, picking his jeans up. He closed the door behind him before fishing in a front pocket for the secret he kept there. Smiling, he popped the cap off the tiny bottle and upended it into the toilet. "You were fun while you lasted, but it looks like I don't need you anymore." His grin widened. "You see, once Wes gets started, there's no stopping him."
He flushed the toilet and ducked into the water.