cocking_about: (iwouldliketolickhislip)
[personal profile] cocking_about
Oh, good grief, I haven't done this in so long that I don't remember how. Um.

Author: me!
Characters: Billy/Grace, Elijah
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Billy & Elijah are based on real people to whom I have no connection whatsoever, but Grace is an original character and belongs to meeeeee.
Feedback: Would be treasured beyond pearls.
Archive: Not without permission.

Written for Pip's First Annual Great Eleventh Of March Fic Challenge Classic. It is a future scene in the vast universe that is Not Yet, and as such could be considered a spoiler, although I think everyone knows me well enough to not be surprised by a single thing in here. :P I think this could be read as a standalone if you're not familiar with the Not Yet verse, though. All you need to know is that Billy and Grace were friends first, and she was friends with Elijah who she met through Billy. This is, at present, un-betaed.

My choice for length in the challenge was "Go Big Or Go Home" (over 5,000 words), and the prompts I used were Home Cooking, Possessive Behaviour, and I suppose you could include Marriage, really. There is a wee bit in the middle that is a place marker for another scene that remains to be written, but would not cooperate at this juncture. Sorry about that.

Okay, I think that's everything! I will stop procrastinating now.

Grace was sitting on the living room sofa, watching the news as she finished her dinner, when her mobile chirped. She set down her plate and picked up the phone to find a text from Billy, who was working in London.

i’ll ring u later but are you okay to have elijah stay next week? x

She quickly sent her reply (yes, that works. talk to you soon. xox) and returned to her dinner.

That night, Billy phoned as promised.

“Hallo, dear heart. How are you?”

Grace set down the sewing she’d been working on and curled up in the corner of the sofa, muting the tv as she did so. “I’m good, how are you? How’s filming going?”

He sighed. “It’s going. I reckon it’s going fine, really, it’s just that they haven’t needed me much and I’m a wee bit bored. I spent nine hours on set today for a grand total of forty-five minutes of work. Tomorrow I’m taking my guitar with me, I might as well at least get some writing done.”

“That sounds like a good plan. At least the weather was better today.”

“Aye. So what have you been up to today, love?” Billy asked, and it sounded as if he were stretching.

“I’m sewing right now, but I was brave today,” she said, proud of herself. “I made bread.”

“Did you, my wee domestic goddess? Kneading and all?”

“I had to knead it twice, even. And let it rise, of course. It took a ridiculous amount of time from start to finish, but it turned out not half bad, even if I do say so myself. And it made the house smell fantastic.”

“I’m sorry I missed it.” He pitched his voice lower. “I do love to watch you knead. Things definitely…rise when you knead them.”

Grace snickered. “Lech.”

“Lonely,” he countered, then growled, “Wanting. Needing. Craving.”

She swallowed. “When are you coming home, again?”

“Saturday. Tell me you’ll be home.”

“I’ll be home. What time?”

“My flight’s at one, so I should walk through the door around three-thirty. Four at the outside.”

“I’ll be here,” she promised. “How tired are you going to be?”

“Not that tired,” he said huskily, and then groaned. “God, Grace, you’re killing me here. You’d better change the topic, quick.”

“It’s not my fault!” she protested. “All I said was that I made bread! However, since you are clearly in a particularly oversexed frame of mind, I will change the subject before you get entirely carried away. Why is Elijah coming to stay next week, and are you even going to be here?”

Billy took a deep breath in through his nose, then blew it out through his mouth. “Right. Ehm...I’ll be there for part of it, depending on how long he stays. I’ll know better on Saturday, but I don’t think I have to be back until Wednesday. As for Elijah, well...he’s broken it off with Pamela.”

“Oh, no. Aw, poor ‘Lij. How’s he doing? They were together for a long time.”

“He’s hurting, as you’d imagine. But the bloody press have been hounding the poor lad over it, and he’s sick and tired of hiding out in his house. So he was hoping to come hang out with us for a wee bit in the wilds of East Dunbartonshire. I think he just really wants a bit of sympathy and coddling from you,” Billy chuckled.

“I’m good at sympathy and coddling,” she agreed. “I’m more than happy to coo over him for a few days, but we’ll have to come up with a few places to go as well, because he is not going to sit still for that long.”

“True enough. We’ll see who’s on at The Arches, he’d be up for seeing a gig there. And maybe when I’ve gone back to work, you can take him sightseeing.”

“Yeah, that would work. And I can take him into the city for lunch and then let him loose on a record shop or two.”

“Sounds good. Thanks, love, I appreciate it.”

“Don’t be silly. It’s Elijah,” she said.

Grace was waiting when the front door opened and Billy walked in, followed by Elijah. They each dropped a bag and shed their coats, kicking off their shoes.

“You found him, then, did you?” she said, and as the two men entered the living room, she reached out to enfold Elijah in a big hug.

“Me, or him?” Billy asked with a smile, tossing his car keys onto the desk in the corner.

“Either or,” she said into his shoulder. “Hello, sweetie.”

Elijah squeezed her tightly, and his nubby jumper was rough against her face. “Hiya, dollface.”

“Oh, I’ve missed hearing you call me that. It’s been too long, Mister Wood.” She let him go with a brief kiss on his cheek. “Are you hungry? Can I get you anything, or anything to drink?”

“I’d kill for a good cup of coffee, if that’s okay.” He made a face. “That shit on the airplane didn’t deserve the name. God, it was foul.”

“Coffee coming up. Billy?” She looked at him inquiringly.

“Yes, please, love. Do you want a hand?”

“No, I’ve got it. You two sit down and relax.” Heading to the kitchen, Grace could hear them sitting on the creaky leather sofa, and the quiet sound of them chatting set contentment blooming in her chest. She set the coffee to brewing, and while she waited for it, she put some of her homemade chocolate chip cookies on a plate. Billy teased her for not calling them biscuits, but she just couldn’t. Any other variety she had no problem calling a biscuit, but chocolate chip cookies they had always been, and so they would remain.

Once the coffee was finished, she poured three mugs and set them on a tray along with cream, sugar, and the cookies, and carried it out to the living room.

“Thanks, Grace,” Elijah said, leaning forward to take a mug and a cookie. “Did you make these yourself?”

“I did. My grandmother’s recipe, so they are, of course, the best chocolate chip cookies in the world.”

“Of course.” He grinned.

“Grace has been trying her hand at baking lately,” Billy told him, adding sugar to his own coffee. “She made bread last week, and she made a pie for pudding tonight. If I’m not careful, I’m going to have to let my belt out a notch, because she seems to have an aptitude for it.”

“You needn’t sound so surprised,” she said wryly.

Elijah laughed. “Have you tried your hand at brownies yet? Because I wouldn’t say no to some brownies while I’m here. You know, if you happened to be making some.”

Grace rolled her eyes. “Yes, sweetie, I will make you some brownies.”

He punched the air. “Score!”

After dinner that evening, Elijah disappeared upstairs to his bedroom for a few minutes. When he returned to rejoin Billy and Grace in the living room, he handed them each a cd. “Brought you a present.” He sat in the corner of the sofa.

Grace flipped hers over. “The Sheepdogs.”

“Canadian indie rock band, I heard about them from a friend of a friend. They’re not getting much play yet, but I bet they will. I think you’ll like them.”

“Thank you, ‘Lij,” she said, beaming. “I do miss hearing about new Canadian bands, so this is awesome.”

Billy looked at his. “The Tragically Hip. Oh, is this the new album?”

“Yeah, it just came out in the States last week, and I know it doesn’t release here for another month. So I figured I’d bring it along for you guys.”

“Thanks, ‘Lij, that’s brilliant.” Billy rose and went to the stereo, putting the cd in and turning it on, although keeping the volume low.

“It feels so wrong to not be the person handing out Canadian music,” Grace lamented. “I feel like I’m letting the home team down, or something.”

“You can spread the word about The Sheepdogs,” Elijah pointed out, crossing a foot on his opposite knee, fingers wrapping around his ankle. “You’ll bump up their European sales.”

“Single-handedly? Not likely,” she chuckled. “But I’ll spread the word amongst Billy’s friends and see what happens.”

“Speaking of which, Bill, how’s Beecake? Are you guys ever going to get your asses out of the studio and do a tour?”

“Well,” Billy said, glancing across at Grace. “Actually, we haven’t announced anything yet, but we’re working on putting a tour together right now. We’re hoping to get enough gigs to do a month on the East Coast in America in the fall.”

“Really?” His face lit up. “That’s awesome, man! You’ll have to let me know where and when you’re playing, and I’ll try and make it. What about you, Grace, will you be going along?”

“We haven’t discussed it at length yet,” she said, stretching her legs out in front of her, her sock-clad toes gripping the edge of the coffee table. “But I am fully determined to be the band’s first groupie. And possibly a roadie, if they’ll let me.”

Billy laughed. “You’ll have to manage not to trip over the cables if you want to do that.”

“That only happened once!” she protested. “There was a kink in the cord, and it caught my foot.”

“It should have been taped down. You could have been killed.” Elijah said, his face a perfect example of earnest sincerity.

“Exactly!” she said, then looked at him. “Elwood, are you mocking me?”

“Of course not!” he said, affronted. “I’m trying to help you get a job on the tour. They obviously need a workplace safety supervisor. With lots and lots of duct tape. And maybe a hard hat.”

Grace threw a pillow at him.

Billy nodded. “And a high-vis jacket.”

“Steel-toed boots. And wrist guards,” Elijah added.

“Elbow pads.”

“Safety goggles.”

“Cut it out!” Grace demanded. “I am not accident prone!”

“No one said you were,” Elijah said, reaching over to pat her knee.

“I hate you both,” she said.

“No, you don’t,” Billy said comfortably.

“I could.”

“You could,” he agreed. “But you don’t.”

“I’m trying,” she said, scowling at them.

Elijah grinned at her. “And it’s very cute.”

“Watch it, Elwood,” she growled. “He lives here. You don’t.”

“Now, Grace,” Billy said, wagging a finger at her. “We’ve talked about this before. You mustn’t threaten the houseguests. It makes them nervous.”

“So?” She glared at Elijah.

With a laugh, Elijah twisted and flopped onto his back, his head coming to rest on her thigh. He looked up at her, blue eyes wide and guileless. “C’mon, dollface, you love me. Just admit it.”

She raised her chin. “I admit nothing.”

“You loooooove me,” he sing-songed, giggling when Billy snickered. “You miiiiiiiiiissed me.”

Grace’s lips quivered. “Did not.”

“You miiiiiiiiiiiissed me, because you looooooooove me.” When she put a hand over his mouth, he gave her palm a loud, smacking kiss.

“Eww. ‘Lijah,” she complained, and made a show of wiping her palm off on his shoulder. “Billy, he kissed me.”

“Don’t kiss my bird, Elwood,” Billy said dutifully.

Grace sighed. “Wow, don’t put yourself out, or anything, Boyd.”

“Don’t kiss my crumpet? My bit of stuff?”

She gave him a dirty look.

“Don’t kiss mo rùn geal dìleas,” he said softly.

She had no notion what it meant, but the look on his face was enough for her. She smiled at him, then blew him a kiss.

Elijah raised his head. “What the hell’s a maroon whatever the fuck you just said?”

“Look it up, son.”

“Don’t call me son, old man,” he retorted, then flipped over onto his stomach, resting his chin just above Grace’s knee, to look over at Billy. “No, really, what does it mean?”

Billy resisted the temptation of looking at Grace as he said, “My faithful fair one.”

“Oh, that’s quite nice.” It didn’t disappear entirely, but Elijah’s smile faded as he rolled over again, and he looked out the bay window. After a moment, he quietly said, “You guys are so lucky.”

Grace stroked his hair, then rubbed his scalp with the pads of her fingers. “Did you want to tell us about it, sweetie?” she asked softly.

“Not right now, but I will. In a day or two. Tonight’s just for the three of us, because it’s been too fucking long.” He sat up again. “So tell me, what else is new in Boyd-land?”

Grace woke slowly, disoriented. Had she travelled somewhere and forgotten again? No, she was in her own bed, that was definitely her bedding half-covering her face. Then why did she hear people talking? She and Billy had agreed that a tv was never to be allowed in the bedroom. Oh, one of the voices was Billy’s. Well, that made sense, since it was his bedroom, too. But why was someone else in there with them? After taking a moment to locate her hand, she reached up and batted back the blankets, blinking owlishly in the dim light coming in around the curtains.

“Good morning, sunshine,” Billy smiled down at her. He was propped up in a lazy slouch against the headboard, several pillows behind his back.

“Mnph. Who’re you talking to?” she mumbled.

“Morning, dollface,” said the other voice from the doorway.

Grace lifted her head and squinted in that direction. “‘Lijah?”

He giggled. “I’d forgotten you have irreconcilable differences with mornings.”

“Wha’?” She dropped her head and nuzzled her pillow, working her face just under the edge of it.

Billy reached down and ruffled her hair. “Before nine, evil,” he teased. “After nine, good.”

“Fucking right,” she said, her voice muffled. “Why’m I awake?”

Elijah walked over to the end of the bed. “Because I came downstairs to make coffee and your door was open and Billy was awake and it reminded me of your cottage.”

“What?” Grace thought for a moment. “Oh. Get in, then. But no storytime.”

Grinning gleefully, Elijah jumped on the bed and wriggled his way up between them, lying flat on his back. “Commence cuddling. I’m emotionally wounded, remember?”

“Emotionally stunted, you mean,” Billy commented, sliding further down his pillows to lie on his side, one arm flung over Elijah’s chest.

“‘M not stunted,” he protested. “Well, not emotionally, anyway. Dollface, why aren’t you cuddling me yet? And tell Billy to stop staring in my ear, he’s making me very self-conscious about my cerumen production.”

Grumbling to herself, Grace rolled onto her side and worked her arm out of the blankets to lay it over Elijah’s stomach. Realizing she, too, was looking directly at his ear, she moved her head closer and peered into it. “Oh, hi, Billy!” she said brightly, and burst into giggles.

Elijah gave a loud, long-suffering sigh as Billy pressed his forehead to Elijah’s shoulder and shook with poorly-suppressed laughter. “Really, Grace? Really?”

“Billy thought it was funny, too,” she managed, still giggling.

“I’m pretty sure he’s laughing at you, actually.”

“I plead your American fifth,” Billy said, still snickering.

Grace raised her head to look over at her husband. “You can’t do that, you’re not American.”

“But I am,” Elijah said haughtily. “And if he wants my fifth amendment rights, he can have ‘em.”

Boys,” she said with disgust, curling up to rest her head on Elijah’s shoulder and tightening her arm around him. “You always stick together.”

“Poor wee girl,” Billy said, sounding far too cheerful. He loosened the blankets enough to throw one leg over Elijah’s.

“I am. It’s entirely unfair, you know.” She lifted the blankets as well, hooking her leg over top of Billy’s.

Elijah tried to shift. “Um, guys--”

“Are you feeling hard done by, love? Should I give you a cuddle, too?” Billy asked, working his free arm underneath himself and pushing down, levering half his body up and onto Elijah. He reached across to curl his arm over Grace’s shoulders.

“I think you should,” she agreed, and followed Billy’s example until she, too, had half her weight resting on Elijah. Her face was close to Billy’s, and she leaned forward to kiss the tip of his nose.

“Uh, guys?” Elijah tried again, his voice sounding laboured now. One hand--and only one hand, his arms being utterly trapped--bent up at the wrist and waved. “Cuddling and smothering are not the same thing.”

Grace looked down at him, her head cocked. “Really? Are you sure? Because this feels an awful lot like cuddling to me.”

Billy pressed his head down in the middle of Elijah’s chest. “Me too.”

Elijah groaned at the extra weight. “Pretty sure. If I pass out--I’m positive.”

“We can’t let him pass out, Billy!” Grace said, and when Billy looked at her, she cut her eyes sideways to Elijah’s cheek for a moment, and then puckered up. Seconds later they were both planting smackingly damp kisses on Elijah’s cheeks, followed by a long swipe of Billy’s tongue up one cheek, and a loud, wet raspberry from Grace on the other.

“Augh!” Elijah began to laugh, and the lack of ability to draw a deep breath meant he soon degenerated into a fit of helpless giggles. Every time he opened his eyes to see Grace and Billy’s faces close up, looking first at him and then at each other in perplexed concern, he just laughed harder, until he was gasping for air and tears streamed down his red face.

Chuckling himself, now, Billy took pity on his old friend and rolled off him, waiting until Grace did the same before sternly saying, “Get a hold of yourself, man.”

Grace reached over to get a tissue from the nightstand, and she gently dabbed at Elijah’s face, drying the tears. “There, there, darling.”

“Oh my god,” he wheezed, lifting one arm to feebly punch Billy in the shoulder. “You fuckers. I think--you’ve killed me.”

“I’m fairly certain speech precludes that possibility,” Billy said, and climbed out of bed. He stretched, yawned, then scratched his belly under his t-shirt. “Coffee?”

“Yes, please, hon.” Grace smiled at him. When Elijah groaned, she added, “Him too. I think.”

“Coming up.” Billy left, adjusting himself in his sleep pants as he went.

With a soft snort for her husband, Grace propped herself up on one elbow, resting her head on her hand. With her other hand, she rubbed slow, clockwise circles on Elijah’s stomach. “How’re you doing, sweetie?”

He rolled his head towards her. "My ribs ache," he said, grinning. "I don't know if it's because I laughed so hard, or if it's because you two are getting fat from all your baking."

"Why, you--" She stopped the soothing circles and tickled him instead.

"Fuck! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" Elijah squealed, writhing and slapping ineffectually at her hands. "Billy! Help!"

"Billy can't help you now, sweetie," she said with malevolent glee, her fingers skating over his ribs. She tucked her legs underneath herself and rose up onto her knees to use both hands.

"Augh! Stop! BILLY!" Elijah shrieked with laughter, his face turning pink again.

“You bellowed?” Billy said, appearing in the doorway with his arms crossed over his chest.

“Help!” Elijah panted, flailing. “Make her--stop!”

Billy cocked his head. “Was there a particular reason you decided to torture him, wee girl?”

Grace looked up at him. “He called us fat,” she said reasonably.

“Oh. Well, carry on, then.” He turned and left.

She did. “Take it back,” she demanded, her eyes twinkling.

“I take it back! Stop!” he begged, trying to catch at her hands. “I’m sorry!”

She paused the tickling, but held her fingers threateningly at his sides. “Billy and I are slender as reeds.”

“You and Billy are slender as rhinos--” He immediately began to howl as her hands resumed their assault. “Reeds! I meant reeds!”

“Fucker,” she said fondly, giving up on the tickling to flop on her back beside him. “Rhinos? Really?”

Still laughing, he gasped, “It’s the only good ‘r’ word I could think of quickly.”

“Yeah, I guess rabbits wouldn’t really have the same effect,” she admitted.

“Or raccoons.” He stopped talking for a few minutes to catch his breath. Eventually he turned his face towards her and smiled. “Thanks, dollface.”

She turned her head, their foreheads almost touching. That close, even in the dim light his eyes were luminous. “For what?”

“I haven’t laughed that hard in ages. I think I needed that.” He held his hand up, waiting.

Grace lifted her own to clasp it. “You’re welcome. A cuddle is really good, but a cuddle and a laugh is even better, I always say.”

His smile widened. “You always say that? Just work it into casual conversation, do you?”

She nodded. “You’d be surprised how difficult that is.”

“I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t.”

“Are you two coming to get your coffee, or not?” Billy shouted from the kitchen.

(It’s Thursday, Billy is at work until the next day. Grace & Elijah have been out all day, returned with takeaway for dinner, and have since started drinking.)

Grace carried the washing basket into her bedroom, still giggling. Elijah was sprawled in the armchair in the living room, loudly singing snippets of some of his favourite songs to her. His ability to carry a tune was questionable at the best of times, and when he was drunk on Billy’s expensive whisky, it was downright atrocious.

“You need to buy bitters!” Elijah yelled from the other room.


“Bitters! To make an old fashioned!”

Grace rolled her eyes as she dumped the clean washing on the bed and began sorting it. “Four kinds of whisky,” she muttered, “gin, vodka, rum, rye, Kahlua, Cointreau, Bailey’s, cherry brandy, wine and beer, and we still don’t have the right thing!” She shouted the last few words.

“You don’t need to yell,” Elijah said from directly behind her.

She yelped, startled. “Don’t do that!” she said, her hand--clutching Billy’s briefs--pressing against her chest.

He grinned. “Sorry,” he said, not sounding apologetic in the least. He flopped on the bed, picked up two socks, and began rolling them into a ball. “Socks. It’s a funny word, isn’t it? Socks.”

“You’re drunk, Elwood.” Grace took them from him, unrolled them, and found their matching mates. She threw one pair back to him to re-roll.

“I know. Did you say you have cherry brandy?”

“Yes, but it’s not for you, it’s for special occasions on the beach only. You just stick to whisky, mister.” She folded Elijah’s corduroys and dropped them on his chest.

“Thanks. Why the beach?”

“You’re welcome. I’m the one who spilled the tikka masala on you, after all,” she laughed. “And it’s a long story.”

“Tell me?”

She finished sorting the laundry and turned to put it away in the dresser drawers and the closet. “I’ll tell you my story if you’ll finally tell me yours.”

“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours,” Elijah parroted, then snickered. “I’ve already seen your underwear in the basket, they’ve got little pink flowers on them.”

“Those are Billy’s.”

Elijah burst into loud, delighted giggles. “Are they really? I bet they are!”

“Of course not, you dork.” She tickled his foot, then dodged out of the way as he reflexively kicked.

“Damn. That would’ve been awesome. I could’ve told everybody that Billy wears underwear with girly little pink flowers on ‘em.”

Grace put the empty basket on the floor out of the way and turned to look at Elijah, who was now curled up with his head on her pillow. “You really think Billy would let you get away with that unpunished?” She grinned at him.

“No, but it would have been fun until he killed me.” He giggled again.

Grace sat on the edge of the bed. “Exactly. Well, sweetie, you’ve seen my knickers, are you going to tell me your story?”

Elijah looked up, batting his eyelashes against her. “Do I get a cuddle?”

“Oh, right, emotionally stunted, I forgot.” She climbed up onto Billy’s side of the bed, sitting up against the headboard, and held her arm out.

Wounded, dammit.” He wriggled up to lean against her, head on her shoulder. “I’m drunk. I might cry,” he warned her, only half-joking.

Grace smiled. “I won’t melt.” She put her hand on his head and began stroking his hair. “Come on, then, sweetie, you’ve been hiding out here for five days, it’s time to tell me what happened. As much or as little detail as you want, but start talking.”

He sighed, and crossed his ankles. After a moment he began to tell her about his breakup with Pamela, how their schedules didn’t mesh, how she’d kept rearranging her gigs to spend time with him and begun to resent it. How he’d tried a little harder, but it wasn’t enough, not for either of them. How she’d started to push for a further commitment, even begun making comments about getting married, and how that had stopped him in his tracks.

“I’m not ready for that yet, you know?” he said quietly, and one hand automatically went to his mouth, his teeth nibbling on a fingernail. “I mean, I’m not even thirty yet, there are so many things I want to do before I’m ready for a family, and at least I know that, right? I mean, I’m not an asshole, I never even hinted to her that I was ready to settle down, it was the opposite. I told her a lot of my ideas, she even helped sort out a plan for the production company. I’m not an asshole, I wasn’t dicking her around.”

“I know you weren’t,” Grace murmured. “I know you were really fond of her.”

“I still am. But I don’t want to get married yet. When I get married, it’ll be a full-on commitment, I’ll be present and ready and willing to give all of me, to my wife and to my kids. I mean, I’ll still work, but my family will come first.”

“Which is how it should be. You’ve done nothing wrong, sweetie.”

“Then why do I feel like such shit?” he moaned.

She smiled and hugged him. “Because you’re a good, kind man who doesn’t like to see anyone get hurt, even if it’s happened for the right reason. And because you’re hurting too, and you feel guilty even though you shouldn’t.”

“I didn’t want to hurt her, she’s an amazing woman,” he said, and his voice cracked. He turned his face against her collarbone and mumbled, “And I miss her.”

She tightened her arms around him and rested her cheek on his hair. “I know you do, ‘Lijah. I wouldn’t think much of you if you didn’t.”

He sniffled a few times, and turned onto his hip to curl up against her. His chewed his fingernail again, his arm resting across her chest.

Grace shifted slightly, letting go of him to resume petting his hair. “Billy told me the press have been hounding you a bit over it all?”

“Yeah. Normally they keep their distance, just take photos, but they’ve been getting in my face. Asking why I’m afraid of commitment, if it’s because of my dad. Fuckers.” He ducked his head a bit.

“Pox-ridden bastards,” she said, annoyed on his behalf. She slouched down a little, moving his head back up closer to her shoulder.

“I’m not afraid of commitment,” he said, suddenly vehement. “I’m not fucking afraid of it. I just know that I’m not ready yet. Why does that automatically make me an asshole?”

“It doesn’t, sweetie,” she assured him. “It makes you a responsible, self-aware, decent man. And anyone who suggests differently can go fuck themselves and the horse they rode in on.”

“I just get tired of it, you know?” he mumbled, nuzzling the top of his head against her jaw.

Grace didn’t know what to do. Elijah’s face was now rubbing across her right breast, his arm pressing against her left. She knew it wasn’t intentional, knew he was just content cuddling with her, knew he was tactile when he was drunk. It was making her ill at ease, but she didn’t want to embarrass him. If she could just manage to shift him off--

“Comfortable, Elwood?” Billy asked acerbically from the doorway, making Grace jump.

Simultaneously delighted to see him and dismayed at how he’d found them, she tried to sit up, hampered by a loose-limbed Elijah. “Billy--”

He shook his head at her as he crossed to the side of the bed. Touching her cheek with his fingertips, he leaned down and kissed her forehead.

Looking up at him, Grace was relieved to see understanding on his face, and she relaxed back against the pillows.

“Hi, Billy,” Elijah said, obviously cheered to see him. He dropped his hand from his mouth, not noticing it had come to rest on Grace’s thigh, inches from her crotch. “You’re home early.”

“Not before time, I see. Come with me, Elijah, you and I need to have a little chat.”

Elijah struggled to sit up, finally scooting to the edge of the bed, the hair on the left side of his head sticking straight out. “Sure, Bill. What’s up?” He grinned up at Billy, then rubbed at his red eyes. “I’m drunk.”

“I gathered,” he said wryly. “Let’s go. Kitchen.”

Grace’s forehead creased. “Billy, it’s okay--”

He bent down again to kiss her on the mouth this time, and murmured, “It will be. I’m going to make him some coffee, do you want a cup?”

“No, but tea would be lovely. Are you sure--?”

He smiled at her. “He’s just going to get a rolled up newspaper across the nose for making you uncomfortable. I saw your face, love.”

She nodded. “Okay. Thank you. Just--try not to embarrass him too much, okay?”

“Softie,” Billy chuckled, and followed Elijah out of the room.

Billy poured a mugful of coffee and set it on the kitchen table in front of Elijah. “Drink that,” he said sternly. When the kettle boiled, he poured it into the teapot and delivered it along with a cup to Grace in the living room. He returned, got himself half a mug of coffee, and joined the younger man at the table, sitting across from him. “Drink.”

“I am, I am.” Elijah made a face. “I don’t know why you want me to drink coffee anyway. It’s more fun being drunk. You should get drunk too!”

“I am not getting drunk tonight. And you are drinking coffee, puppy, because you need to sober up so we can have a little conversation about boundaries.” He leaned back in his chair, regarding Elijah levelly.

Elijah’s eyebrows drew up in the middle, wrinkling his forehead. “Uh oh. You called me puppy. Am I in trouble?”

“That depends. Were you feeling up my wife on purpose?”

Elijah goggled at him. “What? No! I didn’t--I wasn’t--”

“You did,” Billy said sharply, crossing his arms over his chest. “My wife’s breasts are not your pillows, as comfortable as they may be. And you’d best watch where you put your hands, as well.” He was determined to let Elijah squirm for a few minutes, to ensure the warning sank in. He knew Elijah well enough to know that Grace was like an older sister to him, that libidinous activities were the furthest thing from his mind despite appearances to the contrary.

Billy was also perfectly aware, however, that he himself tended towards a bit of a jealous streak. Grace had always found it amusing, even calling him ‘cute’ on occasion when he got a bit bristly towards other men. He was grateful that he’d never yet failed to keep his possessiveness under control, however, and sincerely hoped that he never would. He was rather afraid he had the potential to become a bit ugly about it, even though it was simply because he loved her so bloody much. It made him feel marginally better that she had admitted to a similar fault. It had been a nasty twist in his gut, though, when he’d first caught sight of them tonight, until reason reasserted itself.

Elijah, meanwhile, looked mortified. “Billy, I didn’t mean to--I would never--” He took a gulp of the hot coffee, which made his eyes water, but carried on. “I love Grace, but I could never--I mean, God, that’s just gross!” He realized what he’d just said and, appalled, stammered, “No! Shit! I mean, she’s like my sister, so I don’t--I couldn’t--”

Billy couldn’t help the fact that the corners of his lips were quirking up. He’d joked about it to Grace, but the poor bloke really did look like someone had swatted him on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.

Elijah finally saw the faint smile on Billy’s face, and he dropped his head to the table with an audible thunk. “Christ. You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”

“Quite a lot, actually.”

“Fucker. I was terrified you really thought--” He stopped, unable to even say it.

Billy chuckled. “I know you wouldn’t, ‘Lijah. I know it’s a testament to how fond of her you are that you’re so comfortable with her. That being said,” he added, firm again, “Boundaries. Develop some, twat.”

“I will, I swear.” Elijah sat up again, looking abashed. “Sorry, Billy. I really am. We were just talking, and I got a bit…” He rubbed the knuckles of one fist against his breastbone. “And she gave me a hug and I just wasn’t paying attention, that’s all.”

“I reckoned it was something like that, we all know you’re an inveterate cuddler. Well, now that you’ve had your obedience training, puppy, shall we see where Grace has got to?”

Elijah snorted, but good-naturedly said, “Think you’re funny, don’t you, dickhead?”

“Of course.” Billy grinned. “Because I am.”

The two men headed out to the living room to find Grace comfortably ensconced on the sofa watching QI on tv. Elijah sat in the armchair, Billy sat beside her, and with an arm around her shoulders snugged her in against him. “Let’s try this again, shall we? Hi, honey, I’m home.”

She grinned at him and leaned in for a kiss. “Hello, darling. You’re home early. I hope it’s because everything went well?”

“Aye, well enough. It’s supposed to pish rain tomorrow, so they cancelled my scene. I legged it to the airport as soon as they decided.”

“Grace--” Elijah began, clearly determined to set things to rights between them.

“Shush,” she said, and smiled at him. “I’m sure Billy covered all the important points, so let’s say no more about it.”

He held up his forefinger. “One thing more. I’m sorry I got overly familiar. It won’t happen again.”

“Okay. Now come over here where you can see the tv properly, and both of you be quiet. I love this show.”

Elijah laughed, and after barely a moment’s hesitation, joined them on the sofa.

Date: 2014-04-30 11:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Gah this is so sweet. It's like being back in 2004 again! :) So glad to see they got their happy ending. ;)


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