Fire- Part II: Hearth

The apartment was quiet. It was always quiet on a working day like today, when Sean and James were out doing who-knows-what, who-knows-where. Solving mysteries and shooting the bad guys and getting shot at, it assumed. As always, it was a relief when the twin footsteps were heard shuffling down the corridor, towards number 229. Though, for some reason, there were no voices and there was no friendly chatter, like the house usually heard as the keys sang in the doorway, happy to be home.

Something slammed against the door and the house nearly jumped in shock at the sudden, rough movement. What was this?

~

Sean’s arms were being held up over his head and his mouth was being taken prisoner, his lip swelling red under the harsh treatment it was receiving at the hands of James’s teeth. He groaned and returned the heavy kiss, panting as they broke apart for air.

Someone’s mouth found someone elses neck and elicited a high-pitched noise from the back of the victim’s throat as his spare hand fumbled in his pocket for a key. James had just found the keys and the door swung open, ushering the two men inside.

~

Tangled limbs.

Strangled moans.

A broken lamp and ruffled sheets.

~

“How was that?” Asked James, suddenly self-conscious. Sean smiled and gave him an eskimo kiss, followed by a gentler one to the lips.

“Brilliant, as always.” Their heartbeat was beginning to slow and even out into two separate ones.

They always held each other, afterwards. The patch of time where one was simply held close to the heartbeat was almost solemn, however the solemnity was always broken by a soft chuckle when the snoring started- it inevitably did, regardless of what they had been doing before; sleeping together more often then not involved actually sleeping. However tonight, Sean could tell from the look on James’ face that tonight wasn’t an easy night inside the mind of the detective. “What’s wrong?”

“I’ve been… Thinking about her again.” Instantly Sean stiffened.

“While we were-??” James’ eyes widened as his fingers curled around his partner’s forearm.

“What? No, NO! Not Susan. Not once since we- Since the first-”

“Then who?” Sean’s voice was cold and distant, even though he didn’t want it to be- he was never too good at controlling his emotions and the way his cheeks burned in shame at the thought of another man in his detectives life.

“Violet.”

“Oh.”

“I never saw her, after; you know? Susan identified the body. She didn’t let me in. She never let me in.” James wasn’t usually this vulnerable and to some extent it scared Sean; however he’d grown used to the soft side of the usually gruff and dominant male.

The taller, darker detective rarely talked about his previous marriage; it wasn’t worth the trouble. It wasn’t worth digging up the pain. However, this night he could not remove the face of his little girl from his mind, the ghost haunting him terribly. James curled into Sean as the face floated through his memories. The smaller of the two wrapped around his partner as if to protect him. The badge and the gun were less than useless against the barrage of images he could only imagine running through his partner’s mind.

~

James doesn’t know what comes over him, some days. No matter how much Sean reassured him that it was alright; that it was normal, he couldn’t accept it. He wanted to go back to the bar where he’d met Kingstone and where he’d gone after Susan and after Violet, and he wanted to drink until he ached, so that he could forget he was James Rikes.

Fairy-tales always end with a kiss. They don’t ever talk about what happens after the fairytale, when the touch stops becoming electric with every slight brush, and the magnetism subsides; stops being uncontrollable and starts being motivated by duty, loyalty- the kind of love that can’t come from one simple kiss and a night of ballroom dancing. He had had that with Susan. The kind of relationship where they didn’t have to fall asleep every night together to know that it was real.

Then the fire.

Then the hospital.

Then the bottle.

Then the separation.

Then the divorce.

The only thing that held him back was the one person who literally held him back on some occasions- the shy man who had lovingly caressed him moments before and who was now telling him everything would be okay, he’d see, as firm hand ran its fingers through the mussed up ebony locks in worry.

“We’ll find something to take your mind off of it.” Sean went on, like that was going to help. James smiled bitterly, but allowed himself some brief flash of hope.

Later, he wished he hadn’t.

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