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Shadow in the Rose Garden - chp 12

Title: Shadow in the Rose Garden
Fandom: Dark City / Mirrors / etc
Characters: Larry Byrne/Ben Carson, Amy Carson, Anna/May, John Murdoch, etc
Rating: NC17 overall
Summary: Ben finally confronts his lover about wanting to leave Vegas, but ends up having to make some hard decisions himself....

Happy Sunday!



Larry Byrne

My life with Ben had become a horrible cycle of sex and denial. The sex was amazing, aggravatingly so, and I knew I was letting myself feel far too much when this wouldn't, couldn't last. When I was with him, it felt like everything that I ever wanted, and I didn't allow myself to think about things like absent girlfriends and our inevitable break-up. When we were apart... then it was my feelings that I denied, pretending like this meant nothing to me, like I could pack up and leave at any time. So when Saito announced that he was selling the shop, I took it as a sign that it was time to remove myself from the situation before I got in any deeper, and I began to quietly investigate the possibility of leaving Vegas.

It wasn't just sex, though. Not at all. And that was the biggest lie I was telling myself.

Sex and love and denial.

I wasn't completely surprised that I hadn't been included in the talks about buying the shop. Frank would have left it up to Ben, and I didn't doubt that he was as cautious as I was when it came to things that would make whatever it was we had together more serious than it already was.

He finally brought it up on our way home the day John offered to help us throw a fundraiser to save the shop. "Lar... if we end up buying the shop... would you stay?"

I felt my stomach drop like lead, and made myself focus on a car as it drove by us the on the darkened street. "Who said I was leaving?"

"Saito told me you were asking for an in with shops in other cities." Next to me, Ben didn't try to meet my gaze.

"Just trying to see what my options are," I said softly. "I mean... things happen for a reason, don't they? Maybe I'm just not meant to stay in Vegas."

I felt Ben's hand slip into mine, twining his fingers with mine and holding my hand a little too tightly. "You really mean that?"

The touch was too familiar, too real. I squeezed back despite myself, loving and hating myself at the same time for needing it so badly. "I don't know, Ben. I just... sometimes I feel like we should end this before we get in over our heads. Whatever this is between us. I don't know."

Ben was silent as we climbed the steps to his house, still holding my hand tightly even as he fumbled to unlock the door. I leaned into him a little, feeling suddenly like I didn't have the energy to fight.

Inside, he turned to face me, his gaze troubled, conflicted. He brought his free hand up to cup the side of my face. "You really want to leave?"

"I don't know," I murmured, leaning into his touch despite myself. "No. No, I don't."

"Then don't," Ben said quietly, leaning in to press a soft kiss to my mouth before resting his forehead to mine. His voice was thick with emotion when he spoke. "I don't want you to leave."

The gentleness made it hard to keep up the barriers I'd made on my emotions. "I don't want to leave you," I found myself saying, the words spilling from my lips before I could stop them, too fast, too much. "I don't want to go, but I know I'm going to have to, I know this is all going to end. If I leave when the shop closes then at least I'm going on my own terms."

"Don't go," Ben repeated again, his breath a shivering caress against my mouth. "Please don't go."

I gave a soft, helpless moan despite myself, letting go of his hand to let my hands rest on his hips, clenching on the fabric of his jeans. "I don't know what else to do, Ben. I just...." my voice caught in my throat, and Ben's fingers smoothed through my hair, lips pressing to my forehead, the corner of my eye, nuzzling my cheek.

"Shhh. Don't go," he said again. "Things will be okay. I'll take care of everything. I promise. Just please don't go."

Then his lips pressed to mine, yearning, needy, and it was easier for me to give in to the passion I wanted so badly than to try and argue any longer.

Sex and love and denial.

~~~


It weighed heavy on my mind as I made my way home the next night. Ben was still at work for another hour; I was supposed to defrost some bacon so we could have a bite to eat when he finally got out of the shop at ten. We hadn't talked any more about the subject of me leaving, or about much, really. I'd just let him tug me into his room, let him make love to me, long and slow and intense.

I'll take care of everything, he'd said. But what exactly did that mean?

My thoughts were still focused on that as I unlocked the door to the house, and though my mind registered that the light in the front entry was on, it took me a moment after shutting the door behind me to realize how strange that was.

"Baby?"

I turned at the sound of a woman's voice to see someone step out of Ben's room, to see tiny black panties and a sheer black robe and boobs and - "Jesus Christ!"

"Oh my god, I'm sorry!" I'd brought a hand up to half-shield my eyes, but I was aware of the woman trying to wrap the robe around herself, which was rather futile. "I didn't realize - I mean, he said he had someone staying here a few months ago, but I didn't think - "

Amy. Of course it was Amy. I forced a smile, still carefully Not Looking at her as I crossed the house towards the guest room. "No, no, don't apologize, sweetheart, not your fault. I didn't know you were expected home or I wouldn't have walked in on you."

"I wasn't, I just wanted to surprise him. I'm so sorry."

"Of course you did." My heart was pounding a mile a minute, and I felt faintly sick. I wasn't ready for this, not yet, not yet. I grabbed a spare shirt and a pair of boxers and shoved them in my bag. "I was just going out to see a friend, actually, so you'll have the house to yourself all night."

"Are you sure?"

I stopped in the house's front entryway. I wasn't sure, not at all. I wanted her gone, I wanted one more night with Ben. Just one more. I forced another smile. "Of course, darling. Tell him I went out and not to worry, will you? I'll catch him at work in the morning."

I didn't wait for her reply, closing the door behind me and starting to walk in the opposite direction of the shop. I dug my phone out of my pocket, throat tight and eyes burning as I scrolled through my directory, trying to blink away the moisture that blurred my vision.

"Hey, handsome. What's up?"

For a moment I couldn't answer, and I heard John grown concerned on the other end of the phone. "Larry? You okay?"

I swallowed down the lump in my throat. "Yeah. Yeah, I just... I could do with a friend right now. Are you busy?"

His voice softened immediately. "Not at all, come right over. I'll leave a key for you at the VIP desk under Leon's name."

The words sent a rush of relief through me, and I realized how much I'd been dreading having nowhere else to go but Ben's house, dreading being alone there with the two of them in the other room.

"Thank you," I murmured. "I'll see you soon."

~~~~



Ben Carson

It was nearly ten-thirty before I finally got cleaned up and out of the shop, locking the doors behind me. I felt exhausted, and it was only Wednesday. But it wouldn't take long to get home. Then I could just fry up the bacon, make some sandwiches and fall into bed with Larry....

I unlocked the front door and let myself in. "Hey, sorry it took so long to get home, we just finished, and - "

"Hello, handsome."

I knew the purr of her voice better than anything... and I'd never been so dismayed to hear it. I turned to find Amy in the doorway to my bedroom, dressed in what I would have ordinarily considered very sexy lingerie. But all I could think about was how very, very bad this was. "Oh my god."

Amy's eyebrows quirked. "It's good to see you too, Ben."

"I'm sorry," I said, crossing the house to make sure that my spare room was empty. "Where's Larry?"

"By Larry I'm assuming you mean the guy that came in earlier? He got an unintentional eyeful and left. Said he was going to meet a friend and to tell you he'd see you at the shop tomorrow."

"How long ago?"

"Like, an hour...?"

I stopped in the doorway to the spare room, closing my eyes and letting my head fall back against the door frame with a soft thunk. "Fuck."

On the other side of the room, I heard Amy give a long sigh, and I opened my eyes to find her making her way into the main room, leaning back against the breakfast bar and folding her arms across her chest. She was silent for a long moment, just watching me, her lips pursed together slightly, dark hair falling half over her face. "When were you going to tell me about all of this?"

I sighed and moved to join her. "All this?"

Amy gave a soft, mirthless chuckle. "You, him. The fact that you and I are apparently not together anymore."

"I'm sorry," I said, softly, holding the gaze of her brown eyes. "I didn't want you to find out like this. I didn't expect you home so soon. I just... I didn't want to break things off while you were away again."

The look she gave me was less than impressed. "So you just decided that it would be better to hook up with your roommate instead?"

I glanced away, unable to decide if I felt worse about essentially having lied to her or about Larry being gone. "It wasn't like that."

Amy gave a long sigh, looking past me out into the room. "Oh my god. This is so ridiculous, Ben."

"I'm so sorry," I tried again, "I know, it's unforgivable. I just - I care about you and I didn't want to tell you while you were on tour, because I promised...."

"I don't mean that." Amy interrupted me, stepping forward to take me by the shoulders and meet my gaze with surprising boldness. "Ben. I need to tell you something, and I'm telling you this from the bottom of my heart because I love you. You're gay."

I opened my mouth to protest, then closed it again. "I'm bisexual."

She snorted. "You're gay, dear. No straight man keeps his body as good looking as you do unless he's either a goddamn athlete or a gigolo. You're really very gay."

"I've been with women," I replied, feeling a little defensive.

"You've been with me and that one stripper when you were drunk that one time," she said with a little bemused smile. "And I'm not exactly the perfect picture of femininity here. Can you even count how many men you've been with?"

"That wasn't serious," I tried to protest, but Amy just chuckled, heading back into my bedroom, the robe slithering off her shoulders.

"Well, obviously this time IS serious. Ben, look. I've known you longer and better than almost anyone, so if nothing else just please listen to me for a moment." She bundled up the robe and stuffed it back into her traveling bag, then turned back to me. "You and I had a really great run, and I know we had plans about marriage and kids and all that, but you don't need me for that. You can have everything you want and be happy with someone that you're actually in love with and sexually attracted to, and you need to accept that this someone is going to be a dude."

I hadn't thought about it that way, and her words stunned me. I thought about what Larry had said about leaving Dublin to get away from meaningless, sex based relationships, and as much as I loved him it was pretty much all I'd given him. "...oh."

Amy chuckled softly, extending a finger to teasingly push my jaw back up before stepping away. "Go after your boy, Ben," she said softly, glancing back at me as she picked up her bra. "I'll be fine. I've been half expecting this since I left, anyway. I have some tail to go chase."

I opened my mouth, then stopped, staring at her in further confusion as she dressed. "...tail?"

"Of course." She glanced back at me with a little smirk. "Or don't you think that I can get any man I want?"

I shook my head, still not quite sure what to think about all of this. "I know you can, of course you can."

"Good. Because so can you." She pulled her jeans up over her hips and buttoned them up before moving back to me, resting her hands on my shoulders. "Go. Get yourself sorted out. I'll give you a call next time I'm in town and we can do coffee and catch up, okay?"

I felt like my brain still hadn't quite caught up with what was going on. "You're not upset?"

"A little," she admitted, giving me a soft smile. "But I kind of saw this coming, you know."

"I'm so sorry," I tried again, and the smile I received this time was completely indulgent.

"Would it make you feel better if I told you I've been fucking one of the other acrobats?"

"A little," I admitted, though in truth I didn't feel anything much about the revelation at all.

"Good," she replied with a smile, leaning up to press a soft kiss to my mouth. "Now go. I'll lock up behind me and throw the keys through the mail slot."

Part of me still couldn't quite comprehend what was happening. "I'm so sorry," I said again, and with a soft sigh Amy pushed past me, grabbing my car keys off the hook by the closet and handing them to me.

"Ben. I love you but I've been waiting to have sex for an hour and a half now and I'm horny as hell. I need you to leave so I can go get laid."

"But - "

"I can pretend to be angry if that makes it easier? You're an asshole. Go fuck your boyfriend. Good enough?" She was smiling, though, which completely ruined the effect.

I pulled her into my arms impulsively, discovering that even though she was still half naked against me I really didn't feel anything sexual for her. "Thank you," I said softly, and stepped away.

"See you around, Ben," she replied with a little smile, watching me as I left.

I was in the car and on the road, heading towards the strip before I finally thought to ask myself where I was going. But perhaps it had been instinctive. He'd be at Wonderland with John, of course he'd be. I tried to call him, but he didn't pick up, so I parked in the TI parkade and made my way into the building, stepping off the escalator to find the normally packed nightclub quiet.

The woman at the door looked up at me. "Can I help you?"

I opened my mouth, then closed it again. "Um. I was looking for John. Um, DJ Chessure?"

"He doesn't spin on Wednesdays," she said with a soft laugh. "Come back tomorrow."

Shit.

I walked across the casino floor and back again, partly to gather my thoughts, partly in the hopes that I'd just miraculously run into him somehow. I briefly considered asking about him at the front desk, but realized there was no way they'd give some strange guy access to their star DJ. I perched in one of the phone booth nooks by Wonderland, out of the range of the noise of the slot machines, and tried dialing Larry's number again. He didn't pick up now, either.

'Please call me,' I texted him. 'I need to talk to you. She's not here anymore. I'm so sorry.'

It was after eleven, and there was still no answer. The TI security guard was beginning to eye me suspiciously when he walked by. So I took the only option I had left, dialing another number on my phone.

"Ben?" May's voice was welcome, if a little confused. "How's it going?"

"I fucked up," I said immediately, the words pouring out without censure. "Amy came into town and tried to surprise me and ended up surprising Larry and he took off and now he's not picking up his phone and I really need to talk to him. Can you help me?"

There was silence for a moment. "Do you want me to try and call him?"

I was rather hoping that his phone was off, that he wasn't just ignoring my texts and phone calls. "Well, actually, I'm quite certain that I know where he is. I'm at TI already, I just need to get into John's hotel suite. I was hoping maybe you and Anna could help."

May gave a soft sigh. "Let me talk to Anna and see what we can find out. I'll call you right back, all right?"

"Sure. Thanks, May. Really."

What seemed like forever was in reality only five minutes, but I could hardly sit still. I ended up climbing the stairs back up to the parkade and taking the escalator back down just to kill time, to try and use up some of the adrenaline that was pumping through my veins. It occurred to me suddenly that perhaps Larry had gone to John for something more intimate than just friendly sympathy, and it made me feel faintly sick.

Finally my phone rang again. "May?"

"Everything's good," she said, and even though I didn't know what her definition of 'everything' was, it calmed me a little. "Anna and I are just coming in from dinner, meet us at the elevators and we'll take you up."

"Thank you. So much." I made tracks to the elevator and spotted them a few minutes later, walking hand and hand through the casino floor. May was laughing at something that Anna had said, and they both looked so happy and so completely adoring of each other that for a moment I was intensely jealous.

But all the trouble I was in was my fault alone. I should have broken things off with Amy immediately, regardless of that fucking promise. And if it had driven Larry into someone else's bed, well... that was just my fault too.

May gave me a warm smile and a hug when she reached me, shaking her head a little. "Come on, lover boy."

I gave a nod to Anna. "Thanks for your help, both of you."

She smiled and gave a little shrug. "It's no trouble. I phoned my brother, by the way. He knows what's going on, he's waiting for you. Larry doesn't, though." She scanned her swipe card and hit the button for her floor.

They weren't in bed, then. I breathed a sigh of relief.

May turned to me in the elevator. "Ben, before we do this... Amy's gone, right? I mean, everything's finished and settled?"

I nodded, glancing away. "Yeah. I broke it off with Amy. She... was actually pretty okay with it."

May raised an eyebrow dubiously. "Really?"

"Yeah. She said that she had some tail to chase and that I needed to accept that I'm, well, as she put it, Really Gay."

May chuckled and patted my shoulder. "Well, I'm glad that went well for you at least," she said, taking me out of the elevator and down the hall.

My stomach tied itself in another knot. They weren't in bed together, which made things a little better, but I still had no idea how angry he'd be or how he'd react. I'd told him I'd take care of things and then he'd walked in on Amy. I'd be pissed, if I were him.

"Home sweet home," Anna said, swiping her card again at glancing back at me with a soft smile before pushing it open and going inside. "We're home!"

Larry was seated on the couch with John, an ice bucket on the table with a half-full bottle of Jack Daniels. He looked up at me, confused. "...Ben?"

"Great!" John set his glass down on the coffee table and got up with a wide smile, starting towards me. "I got him drunk for you," he said simply, clapping me on the shoulder on his way to his bedroom. "Now figure your shit out and take him home. You can see yourself out. Unless, of course, you're up for a threesome. In that case, you are welcome in my bed at any time. Night Larry!"

Larry looked stunned. "What the fuck, John."

"I love you too, darling," he replied with a smile, then disappeared into the bedroom and shut the door behind him.

"Good luck," May said simply, patting my shoulder as her and Anna walked by and disappeared into the other bedroom.

Larry gave a soft sigh and drained the rest of his drink.

For a long moment I just stood in the entryway, not even sure how to start or what to say. Larry glanced up at me, then nodded at the bottle of Jack. "Want some of this?"

"Please." I grabbed another glass off the tray on the counter, taking the paper cover off of it and dropping in a couple of ice cubes before grabbing the bottle. "More?"

"...sure," Larry replied after a moment, holding out his glass, still not quite looking at me. He stared at the glass as I filled it. "Don't take this the wrong way, but... why exactly are you here, Ben?"

I poured myself a generous portion and took a long swallow. "I needed to talk to you and you aren't picking up your phone."

"What?" He dug in his back pocket and glanced at the screen. "Oh. Sorry. I didn't really mean to. I mean, I guess I did. I probably should have told you where I was going, but I guess you figured it out anyway." He shot back the rest of his drink again, then turned to me, meeting my gaze with a mixture of resignation and despair. "You should really be home with Amy."

"Amy's not there," I said simply. "Nothing happened between us. I just broke it off with her. I should have done it months ago, Larry. I'm really sorry."

His eyebrows knit together slightly, and I watched him swallow hard, his voice rough and tight when he spoke again. "You broke it off with her?"

I reached out impulsively to take one of his hands with mine, reassured when he held back tightly. "Yes. I told you I'd take care of things. I'm just sorry it's taken me this long to do it."

"I didn't think you would," he said softly, looking away. I finished the rest of my drink before moving closer, stroking my fingers up into his hair and letting my forehead rest to his.

"I know," I said softly, smoothing my fingers through his hair again and again. "I've been an idiot, Lar. I just... I've just always wanted to find someone to build a life with, someone I could grow old with. And maybe marriage and kids if that's what they wanted, but maybe it's just us, and maybe now I have to go to Washington to get married but that's okay too. I just needed to realize that I don't need... god, that I don't even want Amy for that."

Larry drew a shivering breath before curling closer to me, burying his face in my neck. "Are you sure about that?"

I let myself wrap my arms around him, holding him to me and letting out a sigh of relief. "I'm more sure than I've ever been about anything before, Lar. I know I've hurt you, and I'm so sorry about that. Please forgive me. I don't want to be with anyone but you."

He was shuddering in my embrace, clinging to me, drawing breath in hard gulps. "I'm a basket case," he managed to get out, face still hidden in my shoulder. "Just wanted to get drunk and forget everything. God, Ben... when I saw her... thought it was all over and I... I realized I didn't want to lose you and I felt like such a bloody idiot - "

"Shhh. No. Not at all. God, Lar..." I pulled back enough to press my lips to his temple, then the corner of his eye, tasting dampness and salt and giving a soft moan of dismay. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. God, please don't cry...."

Larry's fingers unclenched from the back of my shirt, and he drew a few deep breaths, calming noticeably. Then he drew back, just a little, looking up at me a little uncertainly. "Will you... will you take me home and make love to me?"

I smiled and gave a little nod, leaning in to kiss him, slow and warm. I felt him relax into me more as we kissed, and finally I started to think that maybe everything would be all right. "I'd love nothing more," I murmured, and kissed him again.

~~~

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
bonnie131313
Nov. 19th, 2012 12:15 am (UTC)
Oh thank god, the boys don't need any more angst on top of everything else. I was so glad when Ben finally realized that Larry was everything he needs and wants in one gorgeous package. <3 <3 <3
zoi_no_miko
Nov. 19th, 2012 12:54 am (UTC)
Omnomnomnom. Really, who can resist that? And why don't I have a user icon of his delicious shoulders? I need to remedy this post-haste.

I also feel like Amy deserves a trophy, but that could just be because she's normally such a bitch ^^;;
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )