Slasha, Baby 2007
The Blessings of Old Friends
Pairing: Dom/Billy, Viggo/Sean Bean
Summary: "It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Notes: Viggo's quotes are (in order) courtesy of Sex and Character (1903) by Austrian philosopher Otto Weininger, and an unnamed article by Danish sociologist Henning Bech (as quoted by Mark McLelland in the Western Buddhist Review).
Post-Reveal Notes: With many thanks to babybrothalova for the beta.
It is atypical of the usual vagaries of the Scottish climate that the weather hasn't changed in more than four hours, which is too bad because they've left the shelter of pine and aspen an hour since, and Dominic's fingers and ear tips are quite numb from the wind tearing off the lake. He pulls his jacket collar up (ineffectual, at best) and hunches against the cold, cursing the fact that the gusts will be hitting them in the teeth on the way back down the mountain.
Dom looks ahead to where Sean (of the Bean persuasion) is complaining loudly, both about the cold and about Billy laughing at his less than Eskimo-like endurance of this 'wee' Scottish gale. Viggo as always looks completely unconcerned (he's probably got battery-powered thermal underwear, the daft bastard), and is presently looking out at the view, appearing to relish the wind whipping at hair that's been grown out again.
Maybe he'll do that, Dom muses, or maybe he'll just shave his head, become a Buddhist monk or some such.
Dom is aware that he is feeling very, very sorry for himself, and he struggles to let the rejection go as he has been trying to for over two months, and fuck but he wishes he knew how to let his disappointment and half-acknowledged anger wash away like run-off from a glacier.
Dom counts the many rocks that he passes (and trips over occasionally if one were to be completely honest) and doggedly catalogues their colours and texture - anything to distract himself from the dark jumble of thoughts in his head. He kicks half-heartedly at one angular specimen poking out of the turf, covered with lichen and fringed with grasses of various types. He whispers the Latin names of the vegetation under his breath like a child's counting game - Rubus Chamaemorus, Saxifraga stellaris, Oxtropis Uralensis, Sedum Rhodiola, Dryas Octopetala, Oxyria digyna....
The names don't scan into a comfortable rhythm so Dom gives it up. He's disheartened to not see any sign of insect or bird or, really, any kind of animal life, but then, this stiff breeze is more than likely keeping them snug in their shelter of choice. He wishes he had been as wise. When he feels more motivated he'll overturn a few of those blasted toe-stubbing rocks just to see what kind of larvae he can use to annoy Billy. He imagines slipping a few harmless maggots into his mate's hair and smiles briefly before wincing at a fresh peel of laughter that he had no hand in eliciting.
He sighs and looks up into the sky. He sees a distant shape struggling in the turbulence, but it is too far away to identify: a Red Kite, maybe, or possibly a Golden Eagle. He watches intently, trying to puzzle it out from what he remembers of that RSPB pamphlet he lost a few days ago.
Soon the enigmatic blot in the sky fades into the grey, and Dom turns to stare at the late summer scenery, the normally rich colours muted by the sombre sky and his sour mood. He shivers in the unseasonable chill, though he's grateful there's been no rain yet, thank God. The wind has numbed his skin to the point where he is pondering the effects of frostbite, and his face is as raw as his nerves. He sighs again and resigns himself to enduring his misery for a while longer.
The four of them walk through a patch of wetter ground that's part bog, part path. Dom's boots make a squelching noise, and he looks at the mud pulling at his feet, not wanting to let him go. He fantasizes about sinking into the muck like some prehistoric mammoth trapped in an ancient tar pit, its last struggles preserved in fossil form forever.
Dom grimaces and shakes his head clear of the picture before jogging to catch up to his companions who have disappeared over a ridge. When he has them in sight again he slows, reluctant to break his self-imposed solitude. He knows he's been a right bear the last few days, and he feels a pang of shame. Still, he can't seem to shake this petulant mood and is torn between wanting to spend time with some of the best mates any man could ask for and hiding under his gloomy blanket for a little longer.
His companions look back down the slope at him now and again, but keep their peace. Dom reddens - he is well aware of how he has been snapping at their innocuous comments, and vows to keep a better rein on his tongue. He puts his head down and goads his body onward, thighs and calves starting to protest the growing steepness of their ascent.
The four men eventually reach their destination - the summit of one of the Trossachs' more celebrated peaks, if not nearly the highest. Dom watches his friends react to the end of their quest: Viggo snaps pictures of Billy looking out over the vista, his face gleeful and proud, as if he's responsible for the incredible view. Sean seems quietly pleased at their accomplishment yet still he complains about his aches and the cold and why the bloody hell didn't they think to bring a flask of whiskey with them?
From the top of Ben Venue Dom finds he does gain a small measure of ease. There's a certain tranquility to being so small in the infinite sky like this - he'd fly after that bird if his spirit wasn't so weighed down with regret.
He therefore stays silent, and after about twenty minutes of listening to the others ooh and awww, he follows behind (though closer now) as the others make their descent, all of them long past ready for a hot meal and a fine single malt.
As they are about to reach the shelter of the tree line Dom looks back to see the sunset over the shoulder of the mountain as it bursts through the cloud - golds and reds and hints of purple, a palette reminiscent of the summer foliage covering the hills of Fairy country. It is a beauty even Dom cannot deny and he smiles in spite of himself.
He hears the crunching of dead twigs and turns to see Billy, who has also stopped to look, standing a few feet away. Billy's expression is awed, his face lit by joy as he takes in the grandeur of his native country before him. The sight of his friend so enthralled is a beauty more earthly and far more dear to Dom's heart, and all the more heartbreaking for that it has been denied to him.
The thought increases the ache in his chest, and he turns his face back into the sun, nearly blinding himself. The gorgeous vista that was only moments ago a balm to his spirit now makes it glaringly obvious just how hollow he feels. He rubs his eyes, senses a headache coming on.
A wave of cloud curls over the ridge, shutting off the light, bringing with it an icy cold rain. Dom turns his face away from the penetrating wet and trudges after the others, scanning fruitlessly for shelter in the gloom of the forest.
"'There is no friendship between men that has not an element of sexuality in it.'"
The quote is dropped like a stone into the pond of conversation. Dom barely avoids gagging on his Macallan and shoots Viggo an angry, horrified look. Dinner at the hotel has been almost enjoyable (the fact that it was piping hot was a huge plus), and the conversation has been amiable and interesting, if still muted on Dom's part. The comment dissolves what little good cheer he has managed to cobble together.
Billy raises an eyebrow over the dessert menu he has been perusing. "Didn't we talk this to death during filming?"
Sean stage whispers to Billy, "Viggo's been reading again."
Billy laughs. "A dangerous thing, that."
Viggo smiles in return, and Dom is certain he sees the devil lurking in his expression. He groans and hangs on for what is probably going to be a most uncomfortable after-dinner discussion. Damn Viggo, anyway.
"'The more one has to assure oneself that one's relationship with another man is not homosexual, the more conscious one becomes that it might be, and the more necessary it becomes to protect oneself against it. The result is that friendship gradually becomes impossible.'" Viggo concludes his little speech, and Billy and Sean give him a quiet round of applause, more for remembering the entire quote than the sentiment expressed, or so Sean jibes.
Dom clenches his jaw and tears a few pieces off his roll. He fervently wishes Viggo would get trampled by the local Heavy Games athletes who are carousing rather loudly at the bar across the room.
Billy, if anything, looks completely unruffled. Bastard. "Is this your way of convincing us that we're all secretly in love with you?"
Viggo shrugs. "It's as good a theory as any."
Sean grimaces and rubs his face with his hand. Billy laughs harder, whether at Sean's discomfort or Viggo's madness Dom's not sure. "If it's an orgy you're looking for, count me out."
"I'm just saying," Viggo replies before taking a sip of his wine. "You liked the kiss."
It's now Billy's turn to choke on his drink, Dom notes with satisfaction. "Only for a split second, right before I felt sick. And only, good sir, because you happened to take advantage of me during an extended period of sexual famine."
"Is that your story now?" Sean asks innocently.
"Bugger off. And what was your excuse, Mr. Richard Sharpe?"
"That's Lieutenant Colonel Sharpe to you, hobbit. And I don't know what you mean."
Billy's eyes glint knowingly. "I saw you two behind that tree, K-I-S-S-I--."
Sean mutters something disparaging, failing utterly to prevent the flaming of his face. Billy cackles in triumph as Viggo laughs (even Dom manages to quirk a grin) and takes hold of Sean's hand. He kisses the knuckles fondly (and smiles at Sean's weak protests) before saying, "I'm just that good."
"You're just that perverted," Billy says as he stands up to excuse himself. He pauses beside Viggo and claps him on the shoulder. "I'll give you that friendship requires a certain amount of attraction, but that can be based on other things beside sex. Admiration, for instance." He looks at Dom and smiles brilliantly. "Compatibility, for another."
Dom gapes at him, the sudden tsunami of want and hurt impossible to hide. He sees Billy's smile falter under its weight and he looks away, cursing himself for being such a pathetic git.
"What about me, then?" asks Sean, cutting through the mounting tension.
Billy clears his throat, then grins. "Ah, we just tolerate you. You've shite taste in football clubs," he retorts as he hurries out of range of the fork-full of peas that would otherwise have bombarded him in the face.
The conversation lulls for a moment as Sean leaves his chair to pick up his spent ammunition. When he returns it is Viggo who breaks the silence with, "Methinks the 'laddie' doth protest too much." He grins as he gets hit by a second volley of green shrapnel.
"That was bloody awful," Sean scowls, and for a change of pace actually eats the remainder of his peas.
Dom ignores him and rounds on Viggo. "What the hell are you doing, bringing that up now?"
Viggo looks straight at him, as do some of the people at the neighbouring tables. Dom modulates his voice so that they don't get kicked out.
"Leave off, Vig. Billy's not like that." He rubs his hand on the back of his neck and ponders getting rat-arsed drunk. It's not like the night can get any worse. "Seriously, can't you just let it go?"
Sean puts down his cutlery and looks at Dom with a less than pleased expression. "Not until you tell us what your problem is."
It is tempting to scream out that Billy's not giving him what he wants, to spit it out like some bratty five year old, but Dom knows these two would never let him get away with that kind of shite. His posture deflates and he answers with something closer to the truth. "I'm feeling selfish and sorry for myself. That's all."
Viggo almost grins. "Can't you just let it go?
Dom struggles not to belt him in the face. "And just how the fuck do I do that?"
"Talk to him."
The napkin twists in his hand. Dom curses it for not being paper. "I already did. Two months ago. He said no." Dom makes no move to disguise the bitter tang in his voice. "He said he wasn't going to be my 'experiment'."
After a long breath Viggo speaks more gently. "I meant now."
Dom shreds his roll into bird crumbs. "There's nothing left to talk about." And that hurts more than he cares to admit, far more than the loss of a potential lover. He misses talking to his best mate the way they used to, with complete freedom, nothing held back. He chokes on the thought that he's probably lost that singular closeness for good, as Billy's made it clear he doesn't want to hear about Dom's so-called 'experiment'.
Sean shifts uncomfortably in the heavy silence and glances at Viggo who appears lost in thought. Dom can feel himself lose his composure and prepares to make a hasty retreat before he cracks wide open in a far too public place.
"Running away again?"
"Fuck off," Dom snaps as he abruptly pushes himself away from the table, rocking the glassware with the force of it.
"As you wish," Viggo bows sardonically, steadying his drink and the table in one smooth motion.
Dom slaps his napkin onto the table. His voice is quiet, but his growing fury adds a savage accent to each consonant. "We are done here. Yes, I am in a pissy and somewhat petulant mood, and I'm sorry for that. That does not make it cool to constantly bait me. So, piss off." Dom is pleased to see the smirk slide off Viggo's face. "Because right now I'm wishing I hadn't bothered to come, and I'm dangerously close to wishing I'd never met any of you."
Dom turns to leave, anger and pain a thorny defence against all comers. That staunch bulwark fails instantly at the sight of Billy standing a few feet away, his expression blankly polite.
"Go home, then," Billy says with an unnatural calm before he turns on his heel and walks out.
Dom feels his stomach drop about three stories, his ire and his hopes plummeting with it. Numbly he sits down again in his chair, and hides his face in his hands.
He doesn't notice the look that Viggo and Sean share before rising as one to leave. He hunches when he feels hands on his shoulder, but manages to gather enough balls to look them in the face. The affection he sees in their expressions nearly makes him want to sob in relief and shame. Viggo squeezes sympathetically.
"Go apologize. You've been a pain in the ass all day," he says kindly to soften the sting, then walks out of the dining room with Sean. Dom's heart twists a little at the sight of Viggo sneaking his arm around Sean's waist just before they round the corner and disappear out of sight.
"Yeah," Dom mutters to the three empty places in front of him. He downs his drink and signals the waitress for another, a double this time. "In a bit."
After wandering outside for a smoke only to get turned around in the car park and ending up in a nearby copse of birch, Dom can safely conclude that he's tipsier than he's been in a long while. Eventually he manages to find his way back to the front entrance and wobble up the stairs to the room he's sharing with Billy. He grimaces when he sees the familiar number on the door and forces himself to turn the knob.
He creeps into their room, navigating by feel and by the faint glow from the outside lights. He sighs in guilty relief to see Billy turned away from him, but he's not sure if he's asleep. Dom undresses down to his pants and tentatively slides into the second bed, half expecting a sharp word or two from the other side of the room at any moment.
Billy, however, is silent. Dom can tell from his breathing that he's not asleep after all, but he doesn't seem to be willing to talk, either. After waiting tensely for several minutes, Dom rolls onto his back and hides behind his arm and the haze of alcohol.
He wakes suddenly a few hours later from disturbingly erotic dreams starring Viggo and Bean and riding crops. He's not really into that sort of thing (and prays they aren't either), but fuck, he's half hard and uncomfortable and far too sober to deal with the memory. He silently curses Viggo for never knowing to leave well enough alone.
He looks at the time, moans softly, and breathes out another expletive. He sits up in the darkness, suddenly desperate for a glass of water to remove the dead animal taste from his mouth. He reaches for the glass on the bedside table, and purses his lips at the stale tang. At least it's wet.
"I didn't think you disliked me that much."
Dom jumps at the sound of Billy's voice, rough with sleep and something else. He sets the glass down again, and wipes the spilled water off his thigh.
"Sorry. That was for Vig."
"I meant the 'never met me' thing."
Dom sighs and flops back onto the pillow. "I'm sorry, Billy. I'm not happy with myself about...any of that."
"I can honestly say you're not the only one."
Dom turns over and curses into the pillow. "All right, all right, fuck, I deserved that. It's just...I...." To his mortification his eyes start to burn. "Fuck."
Dom squints against the sudden lamp light. Before he can protest he feels the mattress dip beside him, and he imagines he's helplessly plummetting toward Billy as if he were a black hole. When Billy's hand rests on his shoulder he starts to shake with the urge to flee.
"Might your comment have had something to do with our last visit?" Billy asks softly, subdued.
Dom flinches. "I'm sorry I said what I did."
Billy falls silent again, and Dom is certain that Mr. Patience Personified will sit beside him until he eventually gathers enough testicular fortitude to explain himself, however long it takes. Dom is torn between being profoundly grateful and pissy enough to clock him one. Instead he sits up and places himself cautiously beside Billy. When no protest comes, Dom exhales and slowly leans into him.
"Don't go," he mumbles from the safety of Billy's t-shirt clad shoulder.
Billy stiffens, then gently starts to stroke Dom's hair. Dom fiercely wishes he'd stop; it's too much like torture, but he refuses to give up the comfort of being held. So he sits, stalling, the quiet broken only by the ticking of their little travel clock.
"I'm still here, despite your best efforts," Billy replies with a wry twist to his voice and a shake to Dom's shoulders.
"Don't make me laugh, you bastard." Dom smiles anyway, albeit sadly, and gathers up the tatters of his courage. He keeps his eyes on the spot where their knees almost meet, not quite touching but close just the same.
"You're my best mate, yeah? The absolute best. And that has been the most brilliant thing in the entire world." He grits his teeth for the next part. "But I want other things, too, and you don't, and I understand that, that's cool, but I don't know how to let all that ...want...go, and it's making me hate you - no, hate being around you." Dom resists the urge to wipe his face on Billy's shirt and uses the sheet instead. "And I don't know what the fuck to do about it."
The expected scolding never comes. After a long, tense moment Billy curses under his breath, then says the last thing Dom anticipates.
"I'm sorry, Dom."
"Dammit, it's not your fault you don't-"
Billy closes his eyes. "No, I mean I was wrong to assume you were just wanting an experiment."
Dom sighs. He shifts his weight until he's the farthest away he can be without moving, since for some reason Billy won't let him escape. "You have no idea how much hearing that hurt."
"I think I'm getting it," Billy whispers, and leans his head against Dom's briefly before kissing his hair.
Dom waves for a tissue, and Billy obliges him one-handed from the box on the bedside table. His nose and eyes taken care of, Dom sags against Billy again, and shudders in his embrace. It is a long time before either man gets any sleep.
The next morning, Dom wakes, warm and comfortable, to find he has latched onto Billy during the night. He stills, alert for any sign of discomfort or revulsion on Billy's part, but Billy, asleep as he is, seems content to have Dom wrapped around him, his own arm slung around Dom's neck.
Dom slowly relaxes and studies Billy's face, slack except for the twitching behind his eyelids. He grins at the adorable sight and, without thought, kisses him briefly on the side of the mouth. He freezes, suddenly nervous, and slowly returns his head to Billy's shoulder to avoid temptation. He can't move any farther away; Billy's got a good hold on him.
Dom's heart rate returns to normal as he argues his way past his guilt. He's kissed Billy as a friend before, and in time perhaps he'll be allowed to do it again. It may not be exactly what he wants, but it's not half bad for all that. He would learn to accept it as enough. Still, he holds his best mate a little tighter, the opportunity too tempting to resist.
A short time later Billy's breathing changes and his eyes blink open. Dom looks at him and smiles a silent good morning.
Billy's answering smile is a little unsure, and Dom diffidently moves to allow the return of Billy's arm, which Billy complains has gone all pins and needles on him.
"Feeling better, then?" Billy asks as he rubs feeling back into his limb.
Dom rubs his nose against Billy's t-shirt. "Much. Thanks."
"Good, that's good."
Dom is getting the distinct impression that Billy wants to say more, but for some reason he's staying silent, though his lips open and close slightly and his forehead creases.
"What is it?" Dom asks, worry creeping into his voice.
With a heavy sigh, Billy holds Dom close again. "This is disgustingly good."
Dom can almost hear the gears in his own head frantically rewinding. "Pardon?"
"This," Billy whispers, waving his hand vaguely, face tinged with red. "Us. Here."
Dom's jaw clenches. Oh, he agrees with him, and it's comforting to know that his hearing is working, but does Billy have to throw that in his face when he's still reeling from a rejection that's months old?
"You're angry with me."
"Well, fuck, Billy, you know how I feel. What did you expect to accomplish by saying something like that?"
Billy looks up at the ceiling. "It wasn't meant to tease. I just wanted you to know that I'm glad we're still...well, that I love you."
Dom ruthlessly crushes the hope that tries to grow in his chest, stomps it under a figurative heel. Miraculously he keeps his voice free of bitterness. "I know, you've said. Loads of times."
He feels fingers touch his cheek, a soft caress that nearly cracks his control. He chokes back a strangled groan. "Billy, unless you want to be molested within the next few seconds I suggest you stop doing that."
Billy chuckles, but doesn't stop. Dom grabs his hand.
"I mean it, Boyd!"
Billy laughs harder, a strangely harsh sound. Dom registers the odd inflection, but he's too tired of being played to examine it. He moves to pin Billy's arms to the bed, then freezes. He looks down in disbelief at where their hips are pressed snug together, where for once Billy is hard when Dom is not.
"When the fuck did this happen?!" Dom demanded, voice squeaky in panic.
"Ehm...when I woke up this morning?" Billy answers, his breathing just as agitated.
Dom angrily gives a push to Billy's wrists before he scrambles off him. He's frustrated and baffled but the colour of Billy's face stops him before he can start ranting - if Billy were red before, he's vermillion now, all day-glo emergency hues. His eyes are also squeezed shut and he's trying to bury his face in the pillow. It's not the normal reaction of someone merely taking the piss, but Dom's preliminary conclusions are altogether too optimistic (and erotic) to be in any way believable.
"I was dreaming, Dom."
Ah, of course. One of those dreams. Stupid to assume...but no. Dom breathes to calm himself and is surprised that it works at all.
"Obviously. Must have been a good one." Dom tries to keep the tone light, and is mostly successful. He lies down beside Billy, head resting on his hand. Dom keeps his expression artfully casual, though it's a much dimmer version of his 'tell me all the gory details' grin of old. "So who was it this time? Liv? Shelagh? That pixyish blonde you were with at the BAFTA's?"
Billy's reply is so quiet Dom almost misses it.
"It was you."
Dom is growing more confused and wonders if Billy is actually talking in his sleep. "What was me?"
Billy groans in irritation, obviously wide awake. "I dreamed that we were...you know," he says, motioning between them. Dom's breath catches and he stares at Billy through the other end of the rabbit hole.
"Stop taking the piss." Dom looks closely at Billy, at the abrupt paleness of his face. "You're serious."
Billy turns to moan an affirmative into the pillow. Dom waits with his heart in his mouth. He feels hope sprouting roots, making the earth under his feet buckle; the certainty that he'll be disappointed again is pouring weed killer on it. He doesn't know what to think anymore.
"I don't want an experiment," Dom blurts out, then claps his hand over his mouth.
"I know. You've said." Billy's lips twist wryly, and a laugh is surprised out of them both before they fall into an unexpectedly comfortable silence. After a moment, Billy's left shoulder lifts in apology. Dom's shrugs back acceptance and not a little exasperation. Billy's hands flail above him briefly before letting them flop to the bed. He stares at the wall, chewing absently on his lip. Dom shakes his head and puts a hand on Billy's knee to get his attention. He gives a 'hang in there' squeeze, which Billy acknowledges with a pursing of lips and a slight roll of the eyes.
Dom makes his expression more earnest and gives a shake to his leg before scooting up to sit beside Billy's shoulder. He is projecting everything he feels, everything he hopes for with his eyes and posture, and he knows he's been heard when he sees Billy's face calm from a series of fluctuating emotions into an expression of budding acquiescence.
Dom stops and smiles when he realizes they've just had a very important conversation for the past five minutes without saying one word.
Billy runs a hand through his hair. "This is really weird."
"What, the mind reading?"
"We've always done that," Billy remarks, then his eyes widen to stare at Dom. It takes a moment for Billy to continue. "I mean I've never dreamed about a man before, like that. It's a wee bit of a shock." His expression shifts, and Dom immediately recognizes the mixture of apology and panic. "Obviously I've never done anything...ehm...along those lines before, either."
Dom snorts. Billy is so funny sometimes. "We're not going to do anything X-rated right this minute."
"But you've been-"
"Bill," Dom makes the sigh of the long-suffering, "How about you first get your head around to where the mere idea of us shagging might actually be a good thing, yeah? And don't do this because you feel sorry for me either, gobshite." He hits Billy lightly on the arm. "I can wait a while longer."
Billy nods, a sly glint appearing in his eyes. "Only a good thing?"
"An amazing thing, a fucking brilliant thing, then. Better?" Dom finally allows his grin to blaze freely and he laughs with pure joy. He feels his spirit lift as it hasn't in months, soaring above the crags of Ben Venue and beyond the clouds.
"It'd better be. Terrible waste of a mid-life crisis, otherwise." Billy grins back at him, infected by Dom's jubilation. "So what now?"
There is still one thing that Dom needs to know above all else. "Still best mates?"
Billy reaches for Dom's hand and shakes it solemnly. "Still best mates. Always. Forever. Cross my heart and hope to die. Stick a splinter in my...foot," Billy finishes, and they both snicker in unison.
Dom leans over till they are nose to nose, smile to smile. Billy's grin gentles, his eyelids partially close. A shaft of sunlight shines golden through the window and spills over Billy's face, igniting his eyes. Dom's mouth is suddenly dry.
"Can I kiss you, Dom?"
Dom's synapses short circuit and die as he slowly nods, then sinks his head down until their mouths touch. He swallows Billy's shaky breath and seals their lips together, holding still, not daring to move. He can feel his hunger wake and he struggles to keep it caged, allowing Billy to slowly get used to their new intimacy. When he feels Billy's mouth start to move on his, he grips the sheets and barely keeps himself from enthusiastically humping the mattress. He won't risk scaring Billy, and he's thrilled beyond imagining when it's Billy who first slips a little tongue into the proceedings.
When the kiss ends, Dom has to blink his vision back into focus. He grins when he realizes that Billy's in a similar state and feigns great surprise. "You can kiss me. Amazing, that. You're so talented, William."
Billy laughs and kisses him again, hard and quick. Dom is not fooled by the show of bravado - he can see the pulse point in Billy's throat vibrating double-time. He rolls to the side to lounge on one elbow and does nothing more alarming than gaze at his (hopefully) soon-to-be lover in the manner of the hopelessly besotted. Eventually he twines his fingers with Billy's and he pulls their joined hands against his chest, over his heart.
Billy looks at them as if he's just discovered an alien life form, or been hit on the head with a caber. Dom refrains from either laughing or calling him a clueless bastard (knowing full well that Billy's in the process of terraforming the inside of his head) and instead traces the shape of Billy's mouth with his eyes. Billy clears his throat and squeezes Dom's hand, still looking a little shell shocked.
"You all right?"
Billy glares weakly at Dom before conceding his own wry amusement. "I can tell you're trying not to laugh at me."
Dom gives up and the sound of his delight fills the entire room. "I can't help it, Bills, I'm so happy."
Dom feels Billy's fingers splay flat on his chest. "You are, aren't you?" Billy says softly, and now it is Dom's turn to stare, knocked breathless by the expression of such wonder in his face, a hundred times more intense than what he saw on the mountain earlier. And all, beyond expectation, directed entirely at him.
"I hope...I think I could be that happy, with you."
Dom's chest fills with a dazzling light and he's convinced his skin is going to crack and split wide open from the force of it, blinding everyone for hundreds of miles. Billy's fingers slide out of Dom's grip to blaze a meandering path from sternum to clavicle and up along his neck. Dom moans, imagining comet tails trailing brilliance in their wake. His words are slow, slurred by his surging arousal.
"God, Billy, you can do whatever you want to me."
Billy's fingers slow and he swallows hard. "Ehm, can I get back to you on that?"
"Ah, Billy...." Dom reins in his ardour and instead pulls him close for a cuddle. He buries his nose in Billy's hair and breathes in the scent of yesterday's trek: evergreen and moss with a hint of rain. It is a scent he is not ever likely to forget. Perhaps he'll plan a few more rambles with Billy in the near future, with the emphasis on searching out trails with plenty of trees, of course, to provide cover from curious eyes.
The tension fades from Billy's face and Dom smiles in relief when he relaxes into his embrace. "This is going to change things," Billy mutters from the crook of Dom's neck, his momentary freak-out doing nothing to stop his limbs from entwining them closer.
Dom tries to shrug but only manages a small head wiggle. "Eh, not so much." He grins, habitual cheekiness restored, when Billy looks at him as if he's grown an extra head. "As the great philosopher Viggo Mortensen once said, 'There is no friendship between men that has not an element of sexuality in it'."
He laughs when Billy hits him with the pillow. "Rude bastard just had to be right."
Giddy with joy, Dom rolls over and shuts him up.