Post-Ep: 3.07 (With spoilers for that ep and the few leading up to it, I suppose)
Rating: PG-13 for language, Ben/Michael, to some extent angsty
Summary: A few minor things get out in the open, and one big thing comes full circle.
Disclaimers: I don't own them. Please don't sue.
Michael found himself lost in the sound and motion of Ben's breathing as he rested his head on his lover's bare chest. Silence had set in, though neither one was able to sleep. Given all the recent events, and how hard he knew the memorial service had been on Ben, Michael figured it was best not to push too hard; Ben would open up when or if he was ready, and he wasn't about to step on the third rail again if he didn't have to - 'roids or no 'roids.
Ben drew in a deep breath. "You scared the shit out of me yesterday, Michael," he said quietly.
Michael looked up. "Good."
"Good? I thought you'd lost your fucking mind."
"Well I thought you'd lost yours. For such a health nut, you certainly were poisoning yourself."
"And I stopped, okay?" Ben replied testily. "So can you not threaten that again?"
"I thought it'd be what you wanted. And I was so sick of being told I'd never understand, that I'd never be part of the same world as you..."
"And you should be glad for that - because I don't want to be in the world I'm in. No one does."
"...I know," Michael said finally. He did know - and he understood that part of it plenty. It wasn't as though he was a stranger to the disease; he'd seen Vic run the gambit in terms of levels of health and for so much of his life he'd thought, thank GOD that isn't me - or Brian, or...
It was just that now, seeing a relationship he wanted and knowing the reason it worked the way it did--
"See, the bottom line is this." Ben's voice snapped him out of his thoughts. "I love you. And that's what trumps the rest of it. I couldn't handle going to your memorial service."
...and there it was. In its own sneaky, roundabout, connectedness way: the elephant in the room, the thing he tried so hard not to think about, the thing they never discussed.
He was going to outlive Ben.
Barring, of course, some unfortunate and catastrophic event for which they both had the same chances of biting the dust. But under any other, semi-normal circumstances (such as they were), he was going to outlive him.
No matter how much he tried to avoid it, he couldn't escape. Waking up every morning and remembering "Oh yeah - my boyfriend, the man I love, has this thing." Wondering, with every cough or touch of the flu, if this would be it. Worrying every time they kissed - what if he had some small germ that wasn't enough to cause any problems but could make Ben sick? If he'd be the one responsible for making him worse.
He knew Ben could never understand this aspect of it. The helplessness - at least Ben could do small things, however futile they might ultimately be, to keep up his health; Michael was stuck just watching and unable to do anything except wait and worry and wish it were him instead, because certainly Ben, of all people, didn't deserve to have something this shitty to live with.
He sighed quietly. "What's wrong?" Ben asked.
"Hm? Oh. Nothing," Michael answered. After all, it wasn't anything that could be helped or talked through or fixed. In fact, it would only make them both feel worse for different reasons. He simply snuggled into the warmth and security of Ben's strong, muscular arms. "Let's try to get some sleep?"
Rather than push it further, Ben accepted the response; he knew the issues between them, and he didn't have the energy to delve into it - not today.
End of "Of Elephants and Discussable Issues" by Kasey -- email
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