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Backdated: takes place after Karl finished the red carpet premieres of Star Trek 2009

Rating: PG

Karl I wave off the cabbie’s offer to help me with my bags and trudge across the bridge from the car park. I’m mildly surprised when my key actually opens the door. After so much time, I don’t feel like I live here anymore.

The house is quiet, echoing almost, the only noise the background hum of the heater. I stand in the kitchen, just breathing, knowing that I’m the only one here. Even Ire is missing and he won’t be out of quarantine for weeks. I miss my dog and his energy all of a sudden.

Ire’s been with me the whole time and now the thing is over.

The enforced secrecy, the sequestration, the inability to really tell my lover what I’m thinking and feeling about my job, all done with. The premieres are over, all of them. The interviews are done. The whole event is dying down. I’m cautiously proud of the work I turned in, thrilled with the reviews I’ve received.

The gamble paid off.

Now all I have to do is pick up the threads of the life I left behind. I don’t know if it’s possible anymore, whether we fit together. Sean’s due home soon and he didn’t want me to collect him from the airport. I try not to read any dire portents into that, but I saw those pictures of him with Viggo, no Orli in sight, and I wonder what they mean. A year of contractually enforced separation isn’t usually good for most relationships.

Deciding that brooding about it isn’t going to help matters any, I inventory the pantry and make a shopping list. There’s nothing to eat here, and I hope that cooking something will at least help me feel like I belong here.

Sean The front door’s unlocked and I stand there like a fool, my hand on the knob, travel bag sliding off my shoulder. Karl’s home, at last, and I’m bloody nervous and hating it. Shouldn’t be nervous, not at coming into my home, our home. Shouldn’t be nervous at the thought of seeing my lover, and I’d thought, months ago, what I’d be feeling right now, and the uneasy flip-flop in my stomach isn’t it.

Closing the door, dropping my bag on the floor, I’m drawn to the noises coming from the kitchen. Each step comes quicker than the next, and then I’m hovering on the threshold, staring. My hands are bloody trembling and my heart leaps violently at the sight of him, muttering and rummaging around in the pantry.

I drink him in, head to toe, and has he lost weight? Was his hair that dark before? It fucking scares me that I can’t remember. The brief stolen moments we’d managed, the late night phone calls, the few abrupt visits in strange hotels that’d only lasted hours and had felt so bloody furtive, just hadn’t been enough. I’ve been starving for him, wanting him, and somewhere in the wanting I learned to live life without him.

Don’t care for that, don’t care for it that I’m standing frozen like the world’s biggest git while he’s only a few steps away.

“Karl, love?”

Karl: I’ve gotten together a list of bare necessities we’ll need just to live in the house. Coffee. Beer.

The soft greeting startles me and I turn around slowly, trying to sort out my feelings. Part of me is singing with joy that he’s here and we’ve no where we need to be. Not for weeks and weeks. Part of me is heavy with worry that we’ll not have anything between us anymore. Not after all this time.


I straighten up and walk around the bench.

Sean: I want to tell you a hundred things at once. How I’d taken to reading in bed until falling asleep, because I couldn’t do without you wrapped about me. How I’d gone and freaked out, slightly, at discovering your scent had slowly been laundered from the bed sheets. How many times I'd ventured out to your favored spot on the beach, watched the waves until the sun set and the warmth faded from the sand. How I started taking on work again, and it was somehow easier to sleep in strange hotel rooms than putter about at home because as much as I love this place, it’s really just an address without you.

A hundred things more occur to me and then just as quickly slip away. Looking into your eyes, now there’s only the vital need to get next to your warmth. My hands reach out, sliding over your chest, up around your neck. Pulling you close I shiver at the contact, so long denied, and bury my face against your neck, breathing you in, replenishing memory with your scent, your nearness.

“God. Missed you, love. Missed you so fucking much.”

Karl: My arms go around you without thinking. I’m shaken by how odd it feels to be held like this, you wrapped around me and me not quite knowing what the hell to do with my hands. It’s been so long . . . I don’t know how to do this anymore. I feel like falling down.

And maybe that’s the thing, if I did fall, I have no doubt that you’d still catch me.

I stick my nose in your neck, inhaling, trying to recreate the sense memory of you.

Sean: In my daydreaming in anticipation of this moment we’re usually both naked by now, or at least well on the way to it, and I hadn’t counted on this . . . stillness, between us. My hands trail down your arms, curling lightly around your biceps. I shiver at the, possibly accidental, brush of your lips on my skin, the whisper-soft warm caress of your breath on my neck.

You’ve experienced a thousand things while you were away from me, and Christ, I more than anyone should know how time and distance apart can erode the love between two people. But, I’ve never felt for anyone what I feel for you. Can only trust in that, in what I know is true.

“I love you.” Whispering the words into your ear, my fingers tighten about you, just holding on.

Karl: Your words pull the strength away from my body, and I slump, pressing my full weight onto you. I don’t know where I belong anymore, but suddenly I trust that you can help me find my way back to my life.

Bones has been my only preoccupation for so long that I’m not sure how to be Karl anymore. The triumph I felt when the critics praised me abruptly turns to fear. Star Trek is like riding a tiger – it’s huge, and unruly, and it’s dragging me with it. I’m almost hoping that we never make a sequel, but that’s insane. No actor in his right mind would wish that.

I really don’t bloody well know where my mind is now.

I feel you brace your legs under my heaviness and I heave out a sigh.

Sean: I lean heavily against the kitchen counter, fearful of your stillness, nervous as hell, anxious to fill the silence.

“Went surfing once. Cracked thing to do, yeah? But was missing you . . . dunno, just seemed like a good idea.”

It had been impulsive, possibly foolish. The water had been cool, but bobbing under a cerulean sky, the sun glittering gold on the sea, I’d remembered the joy surfing brought you. Me, well, I ended up being rolled about under the waves, mostly.

I make light of it, omitting altogether the fear I’d found, trapped alone under the waves until finding my way to the surface, because as the afternoon waned and I’d dragged meself back to the beach, exhausted, I’d felt closer to you, had slept better that night than I had in weeks.

I shift against the counter, and pretty soon we’ll either move or both be on the floor, because I can’t let go. I’ve gone on for a bit, my lips against your hair. Babbled and made any sense? Probably not . . . all I’m really sure of is that I’m not letting go.

“I’ve got you, love,” I offer quietly, hoping that’s what you need.

Karl: I sigh again, this time in relief and satisfaction, my body relaxing further. I know I should let you go and stand on my own, but I just can’t do it. I don’t know how to tell you how disconnected I feel from my real life either. I wonder how you managed a full year of filming Boromir and then all the other things that went along with Rings. It wasn’t so intense for me.

I need to say something, but again, I’m lost. “Yeah.”

Sean: So bloody subdued, that one word. Pressing my face against your neck, I just breathe, before pulling gingerly away. My feet are sliding slightly on the kitchen tiles, and the floor’s about to become a distinct reality if we don’t relocate someplace.

“Here, I . . . need to move, love,” I finally manage.

My chest tightens. You seem so tired. Christ, what’ve I been doing to let this happen?

“Please, love,” and with my arms about you, I guide you out of the kitchen and to the couch. I draw you down, and god, you’re warm, and heavy, and yeah, my body remembers you, your weight, the way you fit against me. Settling you against my chest, making room for you between my legs, I just hold you, grounding myself in your presence, your scent, gently stroking your hair.

Somewhere, amid the silence and the warmth the hesitation that’s loomed like a wall between us, crumbles down.

“Mura? I’m yours. Always, only yours.” Tucking a finger under your chin, tilting your face up so I can see your eyes, I take a steadying breath, hopeful.

“And you’re mine,” and it’s said so softly, but I believe it. I must.

Karl: I sprawl over you, my body fitted to yours, finally relaxing. I finally feel like I’ve come home and I’m not a stranger in my own house anymore. That’s all due to you and your unconditional love. Sometimes I wonder if I deserve you. I can be a cranky bastard lots of time.

You’re right, of course, we belong to each other.

“Yeah,” I say, agreeing with you.

Sean: “Yeah,” I echo softly, running my thumb gently over your full bottom lip. I stare up at you for a bit, just wanting to look; fingertips wandering over you like a blind man’s, seeking nothing but the reality of you against me. Your mouth is a soft warmth, cheek prickly with stubble, your dark hair falls like fine silk between my fingers.

I could tell you you’re beautiful, but you’d likely roll your eyes at me. The thought makes me smile and you catch me at it, watchful gaze dropping to my lips. For a moment the tiredness retreats and you look so intent, as if you can puzzle out the reason for my smile just by looking. The warmth of my amusement spreads, settles inside, lingering.

The realization hits me like a sledgehammer. It’s been a bloody long while since I’ve been content. Happy. That’s what you do to me, with just a look, really.
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February 2011

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