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Understudy by dee
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"I just want something I can never have."
- NIN


The kitchen's still covered with a fine film of flour, and the detritus of cupcakes (pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake). The wind rushing through the house, bringing the scent of the impending storm in through the front door, avoids the kitchen by coming via the living room, billowing the curtains around the armchair Dom's sitting in. The sun has set sometime recently that Dom doesn't remember, and the house is dark apart from the light of the oven still on, and the red light on the phone that accompanies the ring.

It takes forever to stop ringing, and the machine clicks on.

Long static moment, and the Viggo says: "All yours."

It's the shortest message Dom's ever got from him.

* * *

The butter and sugar were half-creamed together when the knock came at the door. "Dominic?"

"Kitchen," he called back.

When Viggo shuffled in, his hair was lank, his face haggard, his jeans the same ones he'd been wearing the night before, complete with beer stains.

Dom's eyes skittered away from his, and he pointed across the kitchen. "Coffee's there. You look like I feel."

Viggo grunted, and poured behind Dom's back. Dom worked the contents of his bowl with the grating sound of sugar against china. His hand trembled on adding the vanilla essence, and then he had to turn around. "Pass us the eggs?"

Sitting beside them on the bench, Viggo did.

With the shell against the side of the bowl, Dom cracked. "Did you mean what you said last night?" he demanded.

"'m going to, going to... I just can't." Mumbled into beer - Dom's fourth round and Billy was gone which made it their... ninth? - and Dom knew his head would be on the table if not for his elbow/table/hand/chin combination but he could still speak (going to what?) and then Viggo shook his head slowly and continuously like he'd forgotten how to stop and said: "Going to call it off. All off." He rubbed a hand over his face like he was trying to push his cheekbones up through his eye sockets. "Fuck, but I have to."

Their eyes met, and Viggo returned, "Did you mean what you said?"

There'd been a long, long moment of Dom having no idea, just floating, and somehow that had crossed over the part where someone was shouting and then he remembered it was him - "You what? you fucking bastard" - and shoving aside the table with a tink-crash of broken glass to lunge across, push Viggo back against the wall with both hands on his shoulders because otherwise he'll hit him and still shouting, screaming, up in his face - "just going to - what's your fucking problem - do you have any idea how long I've wanted--?" And security was there. Second pub Dom's been thrown out of in New Zealand.

Dom cracked the egg and threw the empty shell in the bin. Started whisking again.

"I was there, you know," he told the mixing bowl. "That party at Karl's place when you kissed him for the first time." He'd know it was the first time, because he'd been watching. For a while. For a long time. "I'd just stepped up to the doorway when you stopped and turned back. You looked... it was like you'd been staring at the crossword for hours, and the answer had just leapt into your head. You pushed him back against the fridge and kissed him so hard my knees buckled." Dom had to stop, relax his grip on the bowl and whisk. "I had my line all ready, y'know? 'Hey Karl, how about a kiss for the birthday boy?' and then he'd point out that it wasn't my birthday, and I'd say, 'how about a kiss anyway?' Good plan, I thought."

Silence. He didn't dare look. Just started adding flour and milk.

"Karl thinks," Viggo said, like the rumble of a truck on a distant highway, "that we're going to settle down into something long-term. That what we have will stretch warm and comfortable like a favourite blanket. When he looks at me I want it to be the truth because I want to believe it could happen. That I could be happy with him and him with me. I want it so much I'll make endless excuses about how it might possibly work just so I can pretend it's not cowardice to let time trickle on. But sticking my head in the sand will just make everything worse in the end."

The batter was ready to go into the oven. The trays were waiting, with their little paper cases, on the bench beside Viggo. Holding the bowl, Dom turned around.

"Who are the cakes for?" Viggo asked.

"Who do you think?" Dom replied.

Viggo nodded. "It's his birthday today."

"I know."

He sang, quiet and almost on-key - "pat 'em and press 'em and mark 'em with K..." Sliding off the bench, Viggo left his mug behind. "Thanks for the coffee."

A second later Dom was whispering, "no worries," to an empty kitchen.

* * *

Dom turns on the lamp beside his armchair so he can find the phone. Ignores the message-waiting light and dials the number by heart.

"Karl man! Going out of my mind and I know you said you had plans but... Oh, they have? Too bad... Wanna maybe go get a drink?"

There's a moment of indecision, and Dom takes the time to press the 'message delete' button.

"Excellent! I'll swing past and pick you up in ten minutes."