Billy: *I don't feel like spending another night at home, and besides, I've got a date to keep. I was a bit embarrassed about telling Dom where I was going for the evening, but when he finally wheedled it out of me, he just nodded quietly. I slipped out of the house without another word and drove to the deli, trying to tell myself that it wasn't his business anyway. I push open the door, hoping that Leon isn't busy and he might find some time for me this evening.*
Elijah/Leon: *Leaning against the counter downstairs in the shop, most of the lights already off except for one, I lean on the counter, going over store receipts -- trying anyway. Because every since that night at the Alibi, my mind has been more concerned with this whole anonymous letter thing, and how I'm going to break the news to Billy. Do I wait until after we get together again, or do I just go find you and get it over with... And it isn't until I see your face as you walk in the door that I find my decision made for me* Hey, Billy. *Smiling, picking up the pile of receipts and dropping them into a box, realising that there's a vague possibility that he already knows, and that he's here to chew me out for not telling him sooner* Uhm... how's it going?
Billy: *I'm glad I got here before you locked up... with the way we parted on Saturday, you probably wouldn't have let me in otherwise. I smile brightly at you, all that was left of my nerves disappearing when I look at you.* It's going good, Leon. How about you? How's business? *I really want to ask how it is that he doesn't seem to be angry at all about what happened, but I'll count my blessings and keep my mouth shut.* I hope I haven't come by at a bad time.
Elijah/Leon: Nope. *Flipping the lid closed on the box, moving out from behind the counter, and shoving my hands into my pockets, one of them coming out with the store keys. I walk past you and proceed to lock up as I do any other night, not realising that I'm also locking you in until my keys are back in my pocket and I'm once again returning your smile* I'm good. Was a busy day, and I'm glad it's over. *Laughing softly* Was just going to head up. Er, not to bed. But... just up. *I would roll my eyes at myself if you weren't watching me so intently*
Billy: *I watch you lock the door, nerves coming back a bit. I nod, unsure of what to reply to that.* Shall I... *Come up? Go home and leave you alone? I'm locked in now, so I'm fairly certain you're not against the idea of me staying for awhile.* ...join you?
Elijah/Leon: *Giving a shrug that probably isn't a bit convincing* Sure. *Walking away from the door, stopping near you and motioning towards the back of the shop, smiling* Now you'll get to see the side of the store you never wanted to see. *Grinning, then leading the way to the door that goes up to my apartment. Half way up the steps, I turn a little to look at you over my shoulder* So how's Dominic? *I'm not quite sure of my own purpose in asking, but it's too late to take it back now*
Billy: *I ponder the question, not really sure how to answer it. I'm not sure how he is besides abnormally quiet, but at least he's not in a blind rage anymore.* He's all right. It was his birthday on Monday, so we had a bit of a party. *That's probably not the answer you're looking for, though. I wonder how to put this carefully.* If you're asking about Saturday, we haven't really spoken about it. He didn't offer anything, and I didn't ask. *Maybe I should have, I think idly.*
Elijah/Leon: *Walking into the apartment, I survey my living room and immediately begin to start tidying up, which entails mostly of putting CDs back in their cases* Saturday... yeah. *Pausing to look up, seeing that you're standing in the middle of the floor and that I'm a shitty host -- or date, or whatever* I'm sorry about that, for things not going the way you planned. *Stopping myself from frowning as I begin what will probably be a string of double meanings tonight, I give you another smile and walk over to the couch while still holding a stack of CDs* Want to sit? *Settling myself at the far end of the couch*
Billy: *I look around the apartment with an appreciative eye. It feels like my first apartment did, way back when I wanted my personality to shine through. And it does in yours; the CD cases are stacked everywhere in colorful towers. I briefly look around for a desk or a typewriter, but I can't see one from where I'm standing. I flash you a smile and nod, sitting towards the other end of the couch.* You certainly do have a collection. *I say, gesturing to the CDs.* You weren't kidding.
Elijah/Leon: *Laughing, I lean forward to sit the CDs on the coffee table* Yeah. Because I have no life. *Giving you a sideways glance, following it up with a smile* Don't let my sociability fool you. *Leaning back against the cushion, attempting to get comfortable, I wave my hand towards the CD towers* Do you have a music preference? You can be the DJ since you're my guest. *It's certainly better than sitting here in silence trying to think of something to say that won't make me look like an idiot -- oh, and a liar*
Billy: *I give you a worried look, followed by a nervous laugh.* I'm sure I won't know any of it. I'm going to pick it by cover alone. *I stand up again and wander over to the towers, scanning down the names for something I recognize. I laugh again when I realize I don't recognize anything, and close my eyes, point my finger, and touch one. I pull it out and hand it to you, shrugging.* Let's try this. *I say cheerfully, sitting down on the couch again, slightly closer this time.*
Elijah/Leon: *Would it be rude to tell you to choose another one? If not rude, then it would at least cause you to wonder. And then you'd ask me why... and then--* Oh, sure. *I stand up and go put the CD on, making sure to turn the volume down a bit from where I had it blasting Miles Davis earlier. By the time the music starts, a familiar beat and a more familiar voice, I'm seated beside you again, as far towards the end of the couch as I can get* For some reason, I can't really picture you grooving to Prince, Billy. *Smiling*
Billy: That's what you think. *I reply with a knowing look and then a grin, tapping my fingers on my knee softly in time to the music. My eyes flicker around the room before resting on you for a moment, then darting down to my hands. I'm not sure why it is that I should feel suddenly nervous about being here. After all, it's pretty apparent how I feel about you. And you... well, the letters keep coming, so I can only assume you feel the same. But still, there's something off about this situation, about coming up to your apartment with ideas from romantic letters about Christmas Eve running through my head... not that your apartment isn't a nice place. It's just... out of sorts, I suppose.*
Elijah/Leon: *Although the music is playing, the moment of silence between us is all too obvious. A plan is what I need -- and that plan will entail forgetting (mostly) about your secret admirer. You wouldn't be here if you didn't like me for... me. I think. Smiling as I watch your tapping fingers, I think about the last conversation we had, before the night at the Alibi. You were very interested in discussing the upcoming holiday--* So... I guess we're both going to be in town for Christmas. *Unable to remember if you said you had plans, I leave it at that, hoping you'll enlighten me*
Billy: *Christmas... it's sooner than I think, isn't it? Two weeks away. I nod, shrugging.* Aye, a nice, quiet, Lauderville Christmas... it'll be nice to have someone in town to spend it with. *I realize I had better start thinking about Christmas... what I should be planning as far as dinner goes. But will my plans be tossed out the window when I spend Christmas Eve with you?*
Elijah/Leon: *Are you talking about me? Er, him? And it's only now that I realise that I haven't even seen any of these so-called letters...* Don't know how quiet it'll be. *Grinning as the upbeat song continues* Now that I come to find out you have a secret groove monster hiding in you. *Turning to look at the CD player when the song ends, another starting -- less upbeat, more... well... slow and quiet. My face warms a little as I glance up at you* Anything else I should know about you? *Speaking more softly, hesitant* Anything you still want to know about me? You can ask anything, you know. *Anything that doesn't have to do with those damn letters -- or my life before Lauderville.*
Billy: *I still at the questions, turning to look at you slowly. So many ways to answer... I'd like you to know that I think I've fallen in love with you over these months, and that nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I'd like you to know that I've forgotten about Dom, about how he feels about this, and that all I can think of is how I want to kiss you right now. I'd like to know why me, out of anyone else. I'd like to know all about the real you, the one you haven't shown me on paper. But more than anything, I'd like to know...* What are you doing on Christmas Eve? *I ask softly, leaning in a bit closer to you, eyes meeting yours.*
Elijah/Leon: *I almost wish I had a reason to exaggerate, because there seems to be a twinkle in your eye as you ask me a question. And the change in your voice... well, I would rather not think about that -- at all. You are rather lovely though, and somehow convince myself that nearly those exact words must have been in those letters you've gotten.* I'm... *Looking down to my lap, suddenly feeling shy -- or is that something else? A guilt complex, perhaps?* ...I think it would be nice to spend it with someone who's still in town for the holiday. Someone special. *Smiling when I finally get the nerve to raise my eyes, which includes the nerve to ask you a question in return* And what about you? Any specific plans?
Billy: *I swallow nervously, having known your answer before you spoke but still not prepared for hearing it from your own lips. How have I made it this far? I'm not usually this bold, but something about you brings this out in me... maybe it's the fact that you initiated this, yet you're as nervous as I am. It may be up to me to bring this to a satisfying close, and I think I'm up to the task. I slide a bit closer, knowing how obvious it must be and not caring anymore.* I think I'll be doing the same. However... it is the holiday season, after all. Don't see why I should have to wait until Christmas Eve.
Elijah/Leon: *I wish Dom hadn't told me, wish I was still just as clueless as before. Because, at least, then I wouldn't feel like a complete asshole for not stopping this when I should have* Uhm, Billy... *Flinching a bit when your thigh touches mine, one of my hands reflexively reaching for yours and squeezing -- oh, God, why did I do that?* ...I need to tell you something. I like you... a lot. *And? And my voice is gone. Conveniently. Because that sentiment was supposed to be followed by a confession. I'm supposed to be holding your hand for comfort, not to be romantic -- your hand is really warm though. And soft.*
Billy: *Surely that's not supposed to be what you want to tell me, because I know that already. Not that hearing it out loud doesn't make me tremble just a little. It has almost the same effect as the touch of your hand, only not as extreme; when your hand grasps mine I jump slightly but squeeze back instinctively, warmth spreading across my face.* I know... and I like you too. But I think you know that already. You've known that for a long time. *I lean in a little further, almost close enough to kiss you, if I had enough nerve to lean in that extra bit.* Was there something else you wanted to tell me? *I'm hoping for a negative response because I'm not sure how much more talking I can take. We've been talking for months now, and my lips want a chance to do something different.*
Elijah/Leon: *Nodding absently, my eyes focused on your lips as you lean in, thinking that technically, you're about to kiss me, so that wouldn't be my fault. Would it?* It's important that I tell you this before... *Letting go of your hand, forcing myself to stand up and move away from the couch before the distance is closed between us. Starting to pace.* Well, I doubt that you'd still want to when I tell you. But I really have to tell you. *Stopping in front of you* I'm not who you think I am. *Another double meaning... how clever of me.*
Billy: *I can feel all of my courage slink away as you move from the couch, and my hand is left cold and empty. I press it to the couch, fingertips kneading into the fabric as I look up at you slowly. I have no idea what's going on, and I'm sure the confusion must register in my expression.* What do you mean, Leon? *I ask softly. I'm not sure that whatever you have to tell me will make me not want to kiss you, but it must be something fairly serious to make you get up like that.*
Elijah/Leon: I didn't... *Trying to talk over the music, I pause and walk over to shut off the stereo, then returning to the couch, sitting beside you... wanting to take your hand again, though I don't* I didn't know about this until the other night. It's not like I planned all this. I liked you from the first time I met you, and then you came to the shop and you were just looking at with those eyes of yours and... fuck, I'm sorry for not telling you right away. *Pausing to take a deep breath, I put a hand on your shoulder* Maybe you do like me, but you're obviously fallen for the words already... *Quietly* Words that I didn't write, Billy.
Billy: What? *The word falls out before I can stop it, an involuntary reaction to a situation I can't comprehend. It can't be true... I've been so convinced that it was you, so utterly positive that I haven't entertained any other possibilities, and here it is, my theory that I've built weeks of longing upon, crumbling beneath me. I can feel the emotion begin to rise in my throat, but I swallow it back.* Dom told you on Saturday, didn't he. *I say hollowly, more of a statement than a question, as I look away from you, unable to meet your eyes.* He tried to tell me. For so long he tried. Since I first came to the deli. *I close my eyes, hoping to block out the realization that I've been a bloody fool.* I wouldn't listen to him.
Elijah/Leon: *There's disappointment written all over your face. And it's hard for me to sit here, knowing that I'm the reason you're disappointed. Nodding to answer your question, I frown.* I'm sorry, Billy. *Thinking you must hate me now, I stand up, grabbing my keys from the coffee table* I guess you'll want to leave. *My voice sullen as I walk towards my apartment door* I'll go unlock the door.
Billy: *I feel numb, but I know once I'm out the door the emotions will escape from me, and it will be Dom I go to, the one who all along was trying to prevent this eventuality. I'm afraid of going home; not because I think he'll lord it over me, but because I'm afraid he'll have lost all confidence in me, practically picking blindly from the entire town. It was MS I fell in love with, and MS exists only on paper. He's not Leon or anyone else in town. He's an imaginary character, one that can take on the shape of anyone I see but never really be them. And I'm not sure I can have a future with a shadow. The thought sets me trembling, but it also makes me resolved. I stand up and reach out for your shoulder, stopping you before you can go any further.* Leon... *I don't want to get emotional, but as I watch you stand there, fumbling with your keys, I realise how selfish I've been, how unconcerned I've been with how this must be affecting you, who was drawn in without an idea of what was going on and without hope for a decent ending.* I'm sorry... I can't even begin to imagine how appalled you must be with this. I don't want to just walk away without clarifying this. *I take a deep breath.* I care about you, Leon, for you as a person, and not for the person I thought you were. I'd like to be your friend, if you'll have me as one. *I couldn't really blame you if you wanted to rid yourself of everything and everyone involved in this affair, though.*
Elijah/Leon: *Your hand on my shoulder stops me, and I turn to look at you and to listen* I'd like that, Billy. *Giving you something of a sad smile, then shrugging* Though I know you'll be busy Christmas Eve. *Attempting to make a joke, figuring I must have failed miserably since you're not laughing. Which also makes me wonder if I should have told you more. I have no hatred for Dom, only a bit of jealousy -- and I would be glad to see this all turn out well for you... and Dom.* I hope this doesn't change anything with you and him. I mean... he might not be me, but he does exist. *Quickly adding more before I give something away that I shouldn't* Dom told me so.
Billy: *I nod, considering your words. Of course he exists... the letters didn't pop out of nowhere, after all. I smile back at you, probably as sadly as you smiled at me.* I know, but not in the same form I thought he did. And I don't think I can see him. *I shake my head briefly, knowing that I have got to get out of here before the waterworks start.* Listen, Leon, I'll drop by again soon, ok? When things are a little... calmer.
Elijah/Leon: *I was finding it hard to put myself in your shoes, but from the look on your face and the sound of your voice, I can pretty much understand how you're feeling* Sure. *Leading you down the steps and over to the front door, then sticking the key in the lock* I hope everything goes your way, Billy. You deserve it. *But does Dom deserve you? I hope so. Twisting the key in the lock, swinging the door open, then standing there awkwardly, knowing a hug would be just inappropriate at this point, though wishing I could do something to make you feel better*
Billy: *I nod and offer a small smile. I'm a long way off from getting over this, but it helps to know I've got friends I can turn to.* Thanks Leon. For stopping this before it went too far. For understanding. For... everything. I step away from the door and towards my car, giving you a little wave over my shoulder before I get in and drive away. It isn't until I pull into the driveway and look up to the house, knowing that Dom must be in there, probably waiting up for me, that the few tears I'll allow myself to shed begin to fall.*