Toggling an AU

Recipient: slashababy dropout
Author: Ladysunrope
Pairing: Billy/Dom
Rating: PG13 for language
Summary:the art of getting something into place that wasn't there before
Story Notes: Thanks to the University of Iowa's tutorial on bookbinding.
Author's Notes: Thanks to Trianne for beta

or the art of getting something into place that wasn't there before.


abrasive: something that rubs against a surface and removes the first layer

He skidded across the polished floor, acknowledged the porter's shout of 'You didn't sign in!' with a vague 'OK!' and started the first session of Bookbinding for Beginners with an almighty crash of the classroom door and a flustered 'Sorry I'm late!'

Six heads swivelled towards him as one. They shared the same expression. Unimpressed. Billy smiled at them, determined he was going to be positive about this experience if it killed him. They were human beings, just like him and they could see he was rushed and out of breath. Disorganised and unprepared didn't enter into it. It wasn't until he started to unpack the boxes he'd brought with him that he noticed the frowns and pursed lips. They were waiting for something and he obviously hadn't delivered what they needed.

"Er, hello there. I'm your tutor. S'pose you've guessed that? My name's William Boyd. You can call me Billy, all my friends do."

He gave a short laugh but they stared back at him, unrelenting in their seriousness. Six people enrolled for a session a week on bookbinding. Billy sighed. Not enough according to the registration clerk. He needed ten. He'd have to be damned good to stop them defecting to Holiday Japanese, Bagpipe Playing Level 2 or Design Your Own Webspace (Advanced Masters Version) He'd wanted ten friendly, sparky people to debate and discuss the world and music and stuff while they messed about with glue and endpapers -- basic, yes, but he'd planned for journeys into the joy of toolling and the lure of gold leaf for those moments when they became inspired and the classroom turned into the bookbinder's version of Dead Poets Society

He needed these people to get through Beginners so he could move onto Intermediate and then maybe the dizzy heights of Advanced. Courses plus people equalled fees. Fees meant food and rent paid on time. Billy liked the idea of eating and not having to hide from the landlord. Out of work actors tended to think like that. His agent had asked him what he was thinking of doing while he was resting as she so tactfully put it. The silence when he told her showed she was stunned by the originality of his choice for employment.

"What on earth will you get out of that?"

"Hopefully more than cheese on toast and hiding behind the couch."

She'd been very restrained in her views, considering she thought he was insane.

Not ten and definitely not friendly or sparky. Perhaps his agent had been right all along. Perhaps he was insane. He took a deep breath and started again.

"Sorry, we're a bit late starting..."

He faltered. Being gazed at so intently by six people like he was the Second coming or something was creepy. This was Bookbinding for Zombies and he wasn't ready to be Head Zombie although maybe that's how he'd feel after a couple of sessions with this lot. He had to think of something to stop them looking at him. It was bookbinding for Christ's sake, not the meaning of life.

"My dog got sick."

He didn't even have a dog but the words had an almost magical effect. Mouths softened, frowns melted away and the world was once more wreathed in gentle smiles of sympathy.

He pulled out a sheaf of paper from his bag whilst maintaining a dignified but distinctly pained look that hopefully indicated he didn't want to talk about his dog. Much to his surprise it seemed to work. Nobody asked him for details but everyone murmured strange noises that seemed friendly.

"Handouts," he said, offering them with one hand to the nearest person while he looked round for the register he knew had to be signed before he even had a sniff of a pay cheque.

The crash of the door sent the handouts tumbling to the floor.

"Oops. Sorry!" There was a short laugh. "Got a bit carried away there. Is this Holiday Japanese?"

"Excuse me?" Billy wondered if this was part of a plot to make sure he never got started. "Try Room 12. We're Bookbinding."

"Good. Always wanted to try Bookbinding. Bind a few books first, then work up."

One of the serious ones started to snicker as a man came into the room bringing a sports bag with him. He was young so that was a plus and kind of quirky. He was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt with what looked like an explosion of white spaghetti with an occasional blob of sauce across the front. He sat down, nodded to everyone and began to rummage in his sports bag. Billy stared at the Man Utd logo. This person had guts that was certain. Walking through this part of Celtic loving Glasgow with that slung across your shoulders took either bravery or stupidity, he wasn't sure which.

"You dropped your handouts," the new arrival announced before bending down to pick them up a few at a time. Billy couldn't help but stare. After all, it was presented to him, gift wrapped in slightly faded denim tightness. An arse to die for. It had been a long time, too long.

He became aware that one of his class had noticed his interest and was grinning broadly. He scowled back and the grin vanished.

"Can we get started,"

"Monaghan. Dominic Monaghan. All my friends call me Dom."

"Right, Mr Monaghan, sit down, take the weight off your exuberance and let's pay attention. In the handout currently going round the class, you'll find..." Billy launched into the history of bookbinding and chose to ignore the pained look on Monaghan's face. The man had a great arse but the way he acted up irritated the hell out of Billy already.

As he spoke he noticed the others kept their heads bent over the words or looked out of the window at the glow of the streetlights but this man kept staring at him, watching him as he talked but at the same time he never sat still. He was moving, changing positions, arms, legs, pausing for a few minutes then shifting again. It was fascinating. Billy stumbled over a phrase as Mr Monaghan stretched, his long arms pulling his T-shirt taut across his chest. Billy glanced desperately at his notes trying to remember where he was up to and failed dismally.

"Caxton combined bookbinder and printer..." an older gentleman provided helpfully. Billy thanked him and tried to carry on.

"You know, you have a great voice. You say those words like they are the most important in the world. I could listen to you all night." Dominic Monaghan looked to the others for agreement.

Billy's mouth opened but no sound came out. His mind was fixated on the phrase 'I could listen to you all night'. All night hadn't happened for a long while either. He watched as the others agreed and praised his delivery. He began to blush and made the mistake of admitting his calling which led to a prolonged discussion of the terminal decline of decent film making. Mister Dominic Monaghan seemed to know a lot about it.

Billy glanced at the clock. The time was almost up and he hadn't covered half of what he wanted. He called the class to order abruptly and judging by the expressions on their faces a little too harshly. He rattled through what they had to bring for the next lesson and seven heads bent over sheets of paper, scribbling furiously.

A hand went up. Billy sighed. "Yes, Mr Monaghan?"

"We can bring any bread?"

"As long as it has no bits in it. Ordinary white, boring bread." Billy smiled at the puzzled glances he was getting. Let them wait. Keep up the interest and maybe they'd stay.

"And any paperback?"

The smile tightened. "Yes, Mr Monaghan, any paperback that needs repairing."

"You won't be shocked at the contents? Kama Sutra? Lady Chatterley?"

The smile vanished. Billy fought to be professional and failed. "Personally I don't care if it's The Joy of Gay Sex as long as it's been well used and needs putting back together again." He realised what he'd said within seconds as the class dissolved into laughter.

"I'm definitely going to stay in this class. Sign me up!"

There was a smattering of applause. Billy glared at him. He'd wanted fun while he was teaching but this buffoon was making his class an entertainment.

No one stared at him like a zombie. Oh, Dominic Monaghan got smiles with crinkles round the eyes, little complicit shrugs of the shoulders and old Mr helpful Whatever his name was ...ah yes...McKelvie reaching over and shaking his hand. "Welcome to the class, laddie!"

How did he do it? How come everyone looked so damned happy? How come Billy was thinking of changing the title of his class from Bookbinding to the Art of Garotting?

He dismissed the class and went in search of an all night shop that sold aspirin for the pounding headache he was developing.

Weeks of pain in the arse Monaghan. He'd never get through it. Never.


breadcrumbs can be used to clean paper by removing dirt. Soft white bread is most effective. Harder products do not work and can damage.

Billy was determined this week he was going to stay focused, get through the schedule and be everything a determined educator of all things bookbinding could be. Mr Dominic Monaghan was not going to irritate him. He wasn't going to distract him and the fact that Billy stood in front of his wardrobe for at least twenty minutes deciding what he was going to wear had nothing to do with tight T-shirts or denim covered arses. Besides, he could do cool T-shirts as well as any man. In fact as a Scot, he could do it better. He pulled out one from the Edinburgh Festival, circa god knows when, but the production it advertised was one people in the know spoke of with admiration. Mr Monaghan was about to be educated in things theatrical as well. Billy grinned. Yeah, it was a petty game of one upmanship but it added a spark to the occasion.

He got to the class earlier this time and watched as they drifted in ones and twos. Eight. There were eight people this time. He quizzed the extra person, hoping he'd pick up some tips as to why they backed away from one course and headed off to another.

"Heard this was the place to be. More entertaining than learning bagpipes."

Billy privately thought that shaving ones legs was more entertaining than learning bagpipes --at least it had been when he'd tried it one time with his mates all bladdered out of their skulls on cheap whisky -- but it wasn't the reason he wanted to hear.

Monaghan was late as usual. The man didn't seem capable of punctuality but everyone greeted him as if it didn't matter. Billy sniffed as he handed him the register to sign.

"Most of us make the effort to be on time." An observation nothing more.

The man looked up at him. "I got caught up in some things. Hope I didn't miss much."

Not even an apology. Billy felt the irritation prickle. Who cared if he had eyes that sort of shifted in colour from blue to grey and back again if he was an arrogant sod?

Monaghan turned away and Billy noticed he struck up an instant conversation with the new arrival. From the way their heads got together as they pored over the instruction leaflets Billy had provided, from the way they laughed at each other's jokes, the way they got on so well, it was obvious they knew each other. Billy didn't want to think how well they knew each other; it wasn't any of his business. As long as they paid attention and got on with things he was fine.

Miss Patterson, one of his very serious and earnest students claimed his attention for a while, as she proudly showed him a well thumbed version of the poems of Wordsworth signed by his great niece, that she intended to restore to its former glory. Billy allowed himself a thrill of pride as he noticed how others had brought books that meant something to them. What a compliment to his teaching! He'd reached them in only two lessons. Well, one and a half really but if that was the case then he'd get an offer to do Intermediate level for sure. He basked in the glow of a job well done and let his gaze drift across the examples of books. 'Of Mice and Men' 'The Water Babies' 'Animal Farm' 'The Art of War'. Billy blinked at the last one. Mr McKelvie's choice. He queried it gently and the old man shared a few proud moments of his time in the Black Watch Regiment, his words vivid with memory while Billy stood mesmerised as he became a warrior before his eyes. These were his pupils and he was their teacher and all was well with the world.

The class busied themselves splitting their old and battered treasures, removing old adhesive and getting the pages clean with soft bread. Heads down, hard at work except for the two on the back row huddled together and giggling like naughty schoolboys. Billy ambled across, determined not to spoil the mood and looked over at Mister Monaghan's choice of meaningful literature. 'The Joy of Gay Sex' He couldn't help it. The words came out without a thought.

"What in heaven's name is that?"

Monaghan seemed surprised he'd asked. "The Joy of Gay Sex. You said you didn't mind. We're remodelling it." The friend laughed softly. Billy hated him.

"All you have to do is get the papers in order. Clean any dirt away. It's not rocket science."

"We decided to change the order. The pictures up front and the words behind. After all who looks at the words?" The friend muttered something and Monaghan tried and failed to stifle a laugh. Billy hated them both. They spoiled the mood. Spoiled his dream.

"I see the words are annotated." He could feel the syllables fire from his lips, staccato and hostile.

"Yeah, a friend gave it to me with his own comments. Makes for good reading and you have to love those pictures." Monaghan shook his head.

"Get the job done and kindly refrain from adding your bigotry to the proceedings if you will." Billy tried to be calm but professionalism withered and died just looking at these two. Homophobic comedians in his class but not if he had anything to do with it. No one would hire him again if he allowed this to pass.

"Pardon? My bigotry? What the fuck?" Monaghan was glowering at him but Billy was not going to let that rattle him. He'd seen his kind before. Apparently the class hadn't because they had stopped their various tasks and were wide eyed and open mouthed. Damn, he didn't want this becoming more than it was. Two bigots trying to prove a point. He'd deal with it, get them to leave and all would be fine.

"My grandmother used to say, Mister Monaghan, that empty vessels make the most sound and you are exactly what she referred to. You make noise but there's no substance. I don't want that in my class. If you can't contain your puerile bigotry then kindly do not attend next week. That's all I have to say." Mentally Billy chalked up a point to the side of reason and dignity. Just as a teacher should be.

"I don't care about your sodding grandmother. I can only hope she's got less of a ramrod up her arse than you have up yours. I don't know what your problem is but you seriously need to get a clue or three." Billy flinched at the mention of his grandmother but before he could retaliate, Monaghan uncoiled himself from his chair and got to his feet. He gathered his things together, clutching them to him, crushing papers and bread slices alike. Crumbs flew across his clothes. Billy resisted an urge to brush them away from Monaghan's body. Damn, he hadn't intended it to go like this and Monaghan was still in full swing.

"If you can't contain your judgemental nature, then you shouldn't be teaching. I'm not sure I want to be in this class with such a crass person in charge of it."

Billy glanced at the clock. Time for dismissal. He wasn't going to apologise or back down but at least he could defuse the tension he sensed in the classroom. "You've every right to reconsider your position Mr Monaghan. Meanwhile for next week, we need the following..."

He turned his back and successfully ignored the 'fucking arsehole'comment that was sent his way by the 'friend'. The slam that accompanied the shutting of the door indicated Mister Monaghan was not best pleased about leaving but Billy could live with that.

The class left in a somewhat subdued fashion. Billy took his time putting his equipment and papers back in their boxes and proudly locked them in the cupboard now provided for those courses that had a vague hope of surviving. He wasn't going to think about numbers. Not tonight anyway.

He made his way down the corridor, down the two flights of stairs and into the coffee bar. Tossing some coins into the vending machine, he punched the button for some caffeine loaded canned drink. It clattered into the vending tray but for some reason it got wedged and Billy couldn't get it out no matter how hard he tried.

He banged the heel of his hand against the glass. Nothing happened. It was typical, a lousy end to a lousy evening. He kicked out at the machine, punched the side panel and then kept kicking and punching because he was damn well pig sick of everything going wrong. No job, no money, and no judgement. He'd been wondering about Monaghan. A feeling he'd had. There was something more behind the joking around. He'd wanted to see if he could get to know him. Wishful thinking. No basis for it --just pie in the sky.

"Hey. When you've finished attacking that, can I have a few precious minutes of your time, Mister Boyd?"

Billy froze. The one person he had not expected to be there was sitting at one of the tables watching him. Wearily, Billy faced him. Dominic Monaghan still wore that expression of annoyance, only it was tinged with something else. Something that seemed like regret but couldn't possibly be because Dominic Monaghan was a homophobic arsehole who existed simply to poke fun at one Billy Boyd.

"If you've got something to say, then say it."

At first Billy thought Monaghan was going to explode because his fists clenched on the table and he flushed with the effort it was taking him to keep his temper under control. The man took a deep breath and then said icily,

"You know nothing about me. I'm no more a bigot than you are. If you can't see that, I'm sorry for you. It was a joke. Bit of an in joke between me and my friend and that's all it was. You thought it was something else. It wasn't."

Ouch. Billy wanted him to go on, wanted him to explain more -- wanted him to carry on talking so he could finally get some idea of what this man was like but Dominic Monaghan had finished. The chair was scraped back, the sports bag hefted over the shoulder and Monaghan was off towards the door.

"I'm sorry!" Billy shouted after him but Monaghan didn't even turn round.


blind impression -- a process of 2 steps that add evenness to an impression. One by itself will mean the impression is uneven

The next session was a busy one. Permissions brought in so the books could be photocopied. Pages aligned. Copies hand centred on copying machines and Billy issuing instructions over and over again because somehow his class had forgotten how to read. He was getting a sore throat just repeating himself as well as running out of words to say when asked to comment on the slightest thing. They were like children wanting constant reassurance.

The class remained at the same number. At least Billy hoped it did. The friend came back and started working with Miss Patterson who suddenly lost her nerve about her great work of restoration. His name was Andrew and he didn't have a clue about the missing class member. Dominic Monaghan did not turn up no matter how often Billy looked at his watch then eyed the door as if thinking about the man and his usual dramatic entrances would somehow magically summon him.

The time passed very slowly. The class was moody and sour. Tempers got frayed, arguing about the most ridiculous things and after intervening in an argument between the two quietest members in the class about who was first in the photocopying queue Billy found himself raising his voice and on the receiving end of a headache. He sat down, suddenly dispirited that his vision of a lively group had disintegrated into more of a jostling for the correct pecking order that wouldn't have seemed out of place at the local zoo. He ran his hands through his hair and sighed.

"I wouldn't worry, man, he's probably taken ill with the flu. It's strong round these parts lately." Mr McKelvie nodded sagely, sitting down next to him.

"Pardon? You've lost me."

"You've been looking over there to that door regular as clockwork and with the occasional glance at where he usually sits all through the session plus the fact you're like a bear with a sore head leads us all to think you are missing his company."

"What? No! Where's all this come from? Missing him? Me with the sore head? I don't think so." Billy knew Mr McKelvie was a keen gardener. Maybe he grew more than just flowers in his pots. Certainly his weird visions of what went on in the classroom bore no resemblance to anything Billy recalled.

"Aww, come on, lad. I was nae born yesterday. You'd be looking at him when he had his head down and then when you were reading, or doing something on that board over there, he'd be watching you like a hawk. Couldn't stop talking either."

"I noticed," Billy said wryly.

"No, not in class. In the coffee place afterwards. We all go to have a chat, keep in touch. It was mainly about you. How good a teacher you are. What an amazing voice you have. How he was determined this time to make a better impression than last time. How he wanted to help you understand because you jumped to conclusions. He's a nice lad and we all think he deserves a second chance."

Billy tried to remember Dom ever having a first one and failed. "I think there's been some mistake, I've never met the man before. You sure he said all that?"

"Aye, I'm certain. Now you've got me wondering. He didn't strike me as a teller of stories. It's a wee puzzle." Mr McKelvie wandered off to join the photocopying queue and Billy was left with the uncomfortable thought that Dominic Monaghan might not be all he pretended to be or all Billy would like him to be if he was strictly honest. The thought they'd been watching each other gave him a tingle he thought he'd explore a bit more given the chance. Now Dominic Monaghan, irritating, lying pain in the arse that he was had put paid to that particular fantasy.

He sulked for the rest of the class. People gave him a wide berth and were very quiet when he dismissed them. Even the oh so quiet Fraser twins who had never said a word to anyone since they started asked what was wrong. Billy could have enlightened them.

Two words. Dominic Monaghan. Make that three. Dominic Monaghan, bastard.


continuous guard -- this piece allows the book to lie exposed when first opened

It had seemed like a good idea at the time. Full of righteous indignation that he'd been the subject of general conversation never mind the subject of Monaghan's conversation he'd folded up some of the notes from the lesson and looked up the man's address. He'd had some vague idea of finding his way to Monaghan's front door using the notes as an excuse to get inside and then telling him exactly what he thought of him.

Only by the time he got there his temper had got cooler at the same rate his courage had evaporated. He felt a bit of a twat standing under the streetlight wondering which part of the house Monaghan lived in. Flat 4 didn't give much of a clue, there were no names on the list of apartments at the front of the house and counting windows only helped to promote the idea to anyone watching that they had a new kind of pervert on the scene. There was no sign of life and Billy did not want to go and press all of those doorbells.

He was about to leave when the front door opened, a man tossed a shouted 'See ya' over his shoulder and came towards him. It was Andrew the friend and he grinned at Billy. "He's free now" he came out with which sort of implied Billy was being given permission and that really got up Billy's nose. A light went on in the middle window and Billy was aware that Andrew was talking on the phone to the very person Billy wanted to see.

As the friend left, the window was pushed up and Mister Dominic Monaghan swung one leg over the ledge and perched there watching Billy. Jeans, white T and just washed hair led to a considerable loss of concentration on Billy's part until the cocky invitation "Want to see me Mr Boyd?" brought him back to reality.

"Not really. I just wanted to tell you, I don't appreciate lies being told to other students about you and me. You haven't made a first impression on me never mind all that crap about a second. So you be careful, because so far all the conclusions I've come to have been pretty right so far."

Dominic Monaghan leaned back against the window frame and seemed absorbed by the streetlight. He lit a cigarette and blew the smoke into the street.

"So, you think I'm a bigot and a liar then, Mr Boyd?"

"I apologised for the first, maybe I was over reacting but I'm not in any doubt about the second. We've never met before the first session of the evening classes. That's all I'm saying. " Billy tried not to look smug but it was satisfying to have the last word. "I'll say good night then."

"I've been out to friends and family since I was sixteen so bigot is hardly fair. We met at the jazz club on Buchanan Street on the 29th August. Strictly it was more my drink met your clothes. I liked the music your band was playing. I liked the emotion in the lyrics and I came across to ask you some questions. Some wanker knocked into me and my drink went flying. So technically we've met. Technically you even spoke words of endearment to me. If you can count 'Fuck off you git' as endearment but I'm a creative kind of soul so I can think of it any way I like. An inch or two difference you would have met me not the drink. Who knows what might have happened?"

Billy didn't know what to say. It wasn't the fact that Dominic was swinging his leg as if this was the most natural place in the world to hold a conversation nor the way he was talking, low, hypnotic with that dark brown faintly amused tone Billy had noticed he used when he wanted to convince someone of something, a tone that melted Billy if he thought about it too long. The fact that left him speechless was he, Billy Boyd, was totally in the wrong. He was left looking like a prat. There was no two ways about it. There was nothing to salvage in the situation. He'd have to make his apologies and put up with whatever snide comment Monaghan wanted to say in class.

Typical. Of all the classes at the Arts Institute Monaghan had to choose his. How was that for fate...or not. Light dawned.

"You're a stalker! You knew I was doing the Bookbinding course! Holiday fucking Japanese, my arse!"

"Bigot, liar and stalker? Christ, I'm getting it all tonight. Ok, I'll plead guilty on that one. I asked around and someone mentioned it. I decided I wanted to make your acquaintance, Billy Boyd."

"What for? So you can make my life a misery?"

"Because you're a talented man, Billy. Add that to the green eyes and that sexy way you talk, not to mention the way you make me feel and there you have it--- Dominic Monaghan, bookbinder."

Billy was stumped. At every turn this man disarmed him and yet instead of feeling happy about it, he was feeling cheated. He'd had no say in any of this.

"Billy, come on up. I'll make us an omelette, salad, open a bottle of wine. We can relax, talk music, what d'you say?"

Later, Billy wasn't sure how he managed it but at the time he looked Dominic Monaghan squarely, or approximately squarely in the eye given that he was about ten feet higher than Billy was and told him in no uncertain terms what to do with himself.

He then placed the notes under a large stone and walked, in what he hoped was an unconcerned fashion, down the street. Dominic should not have laughed at that moment. Even if it was a full on laugh of surprise and almost glee that Billy was making this really hard, he could have acted upset or at least annoyed. Billy was already questioning his own sanity because when push came to shove he hadn't had serious sex in way too long and sex with thatpain in the arse was better than nothing. The laugh though? That was entirely different and out of sheer annoyance Billy picked up a stone from the pavement and aimed it at the wall at the side of the window.

He used to be good at that. When he was about nine or ten he was considered the champion on the estate until he got his backside tanned by the local constable for being a little too intent on breaking windows. This time there was no intent. He was aiming at the wall but his aim didn't seem to know that. Neither did Dominic who was trying to close the window at the time. The window didn't help by breaking like that. He still had his talent for running though even if the thought of Dominic Monaghan tanning his backside for him gave him the best fantasies he'd had for years.


cracking -- structure of the paper giving way that allows weakening to develop

Billy did not know where to look at the next session. Dominic arrived early and was sitting there when Billy staggered in with all the extra equipment needed. He was reading quietly and didn't acknowledge Billy's presence. Billy thought he would play along and happily set up what he needed, absorbed in getting the instructions posted at various stages round the room. They should have sewn the sheets at home and designed their covers and now they'd put them together, hopefully with some success.

It wasn't until he started to tune into the arriving students conversations that he realised what they were saying.

"That's a nasty cut there, Dom."

"How did it happen, Dom? Have an accident?"

He listened out for Dominic's reply. "Yeah, something like that. I got hit by flying glass. It's sore when I laugh."

He did try. For an hour he tried. He looked everywhere but at Dominic Monaghan. He asked everyone questions except Dominic Monaghan but all the time he was aware that the cut on Dominic Monaghan's face was his fault. He felt terrible.

He waited till they were all busy and sidled up to the bench. Dominic looked up at him warily. Billy stared at the butterfly tape and the cut underneath. He swallowed hard.

"Oh God, Dom, I'm sorry." He hoped it sounded sincere because he really was sorry.

Dom shrugged. "It was an accident. At least I like to think so."

"Oh it was, believe me, I was aiming for the wall and it bounced all wrong and you were pulling the window down and..." He stopped acutely aware everyone was listening. "I'm sorry. There's no excuse except that I was angry with you and I didn't think."

"I'll think carefully what I offer you next time if that's how you react to the mention of an omelette."

Billy liked the mention of next time he had to admit and he laughed and it felt good because Dom smiled and looked happier than he'd seen him ever look. He reached out to touch the cut but stopped at the amused expression on Dom's face. He let his hand fall.

"So, does this mean that we can be friends with each other, Billy Boyd?"

"Aye, why not? As long as you don't throw drinks at me and I don't throw stones at you, Dom, I think we'll get along just fine."

Dom jiggled up and down on the bench stool. He looked inordinately pleased with himself. Billy was curious.

"What's got into you? You look as if you've won the Lottery."

"I did. You called me Dom. That has to count for something."

Billy had to walk away because teachers of bookbinding were supposed to be serious people and not go about with pink ears because they were blushing and receiving thumbs up signals from their other students. Although there was always a first time for everything.


wrapping -- the process of attaching covers to a book for presentation

The last session was part exhibition, part celebration. Everyone evaluated their work, laughed about their mistakes and boasted about what they'd do in the Intermediate sessions next time. For some reason they'd spoken to all their friends and the session was heavily booked already. Billy was ecstatic and toasted them all with a cheap cava that Miss Patterson had proudly presented to him as a thank you present.

Dom arrived late as usual to great cheering and after straining to lift his sports bag onto the bench, produced French bread and Camembert with a couple of tubs of pate and some good red wine. The final flourish was a chequered cloth he spread over the bench before laying it all out and then rather ruining the ambience by telling everyone to 'come and get it'.

It was relaxed, it was sociable and when it was over Billy felt relaxed and happy as people drifted away thanking him and looking forward to next term. The place was a jumble of food and paper plates, plastic cups and screwed up paper napkins but Billy didn't mind. He'd shooed everyone away because he wanted to do all this by himself. It was fitting he cleared up as a thank you to his students in a way.

He began to tidy away, humming to himself when he noticed Dom helping further down the room.

"I thought you'd gone."

"No, I wanted to spend some time with you. I've been trying to think of ways to put this and it isn't easy." Dom threw a napkin into the black bin bag and came closer. He sat down on a stool and patted the empty place next to him. Billy obliged without a protest. This was a Dom he hadn't seen before. Thoughtful and quiet.

"I really like you, Billy. I was wondering if, y'know, us, you and me..." Dom shifted, embarrassed at his own openness.

Billy wondered if he should make it harder for him but then relented. "It's a thought. A good one. You've been a bit of an arse though."

"Yeah. You've been kind of up yourself being a teacher. You don't need to be."

Billy thought about that one. "I suppose I don't. I'll have to rely on you to keep me on the straight and narrow."

Dom shook his head. "Never the straight. Oh no." They laughed together even though it wasn't that funny and finished the clearing up, talking ten to the dozen until Billy couldn't remember why Dom had ever irritated him.

With everything clean and in order Billy was putting his keys back onto the college key rings before signing out when Dom dropped the bombshell.

"It's going to be so weird being taught by the man I've kissed minutes before we get into the building."

Billy dropped the keys and didn't even attempt to pick them up. When Dom retrieved them he saw the worried look on Billy's face.

"What's wrong?"

"I don't date my students. Ever."

"It's an evening class. Bookbinding. Ok, it's Intermediate but that doesn't mean a higher morality level. I'm talking a kiss not sex on the steps!"

"Sorry, it's one of my unwritten rules. I can't."

Dom stared at him. "You serious? This isn't some windup? No, you wouldn't do that. Not to me. Not now. God, I never thought."

Billy smiled gently. "You could take Holiday Japanese and walk me home afterwards."

Dom wasn't having any of it. "Bugger, it's not the same." He stalked off in a huff, out of the revolving doors towards the bus stop while Billy leafed through the signing out sheets to find his name.

The porter winked at him. "You're having him on, aren't you?"

Billy grinned. "Yes, I am. About time he got a taste of it." He signed his name with a flourish, looking up just in time to see the bus turning the corner opposite and Dom crossing the road to meet it. "Shit! No, do not get on that bus, Monaghan, this is not how this night is going to end!"

He ran out of the revolving doors, cursing at their slowness, dashed out in front of a car and cursed the driver as the car screeched to a halt but by the time he'd reached the bus stop the bus was pulling away and there was no sign of Dom anywhere.

"Fuck, FUCK! This is not happening. It was a windup, how could he take me seriously?" He looked anxiously at the timetable fixed onto the bus stop.

"Yeah, how could I take you seriously? That innocent face, that beguiling lilt. How could that lot be winding me up?"

Billy whirled round to the sight of Dom leaning against a wall of an alley he hadn't even noticed. "How did you know? How come you can do this better than me?"

Dom shrugged. "It's a gift and besides, when you lie, your forehead crinkles with the strain."

He pulled Billy into his arms and kissed him. Billy growled and pushed him back against the wall and roundly returned the favour.

They broke apart panting.

"It's forty-five minutes till the next bus, Dom."

"There's a taxi rank round the corner that can have us at my place in ten. Omelette, music, wine, sex. Sound good?"

"You can teach me all four. It's been a while."

"Sorry, pal, don't date students."

"Dom? Fuck you."

Dom whispered against Billy's lips. "You read my mind, teacher."


Comment on this story
Read Comments on this story


Concept created by Megolas in 2002
Fabulous artwork ©2002 by Hope.
Moderated since 2004 by MSilverstar and yueni.
Site revised ©2006 by yueni