Wes had spent his entire life being cautious -- looking before he leapt, making decisions only after thinking things through as far as possible. He had made all his big decisions that way, every important milestone that had shaped his life: law school, Alex, changing careers.
The first time Wes had made a decision without thinking was when he'd agreed to be Travis Marks's partner after they'd cracked the Gentlemen Caller Serial Killer case.
Five years later, it seemed like it was a mistake he was doomed to continue to repeat when it came to Travis.
It started, of course, with a fight.
Not their partnership, but the earth-shattering change that, in hindsight, Wes could see had been hovering between them for months, amplifying the frustration and irritation that had always been par for the course with them. But recently it had become less playful, less a shared language and more a war of attrition that didn't seem to have an end in sight.
If Wes had had time to think about it, maybe he would've figured out a better way to break the tension, another way to deal with it that would've involved less embarrassment and mortification. But he hadn't because he spent most of his time just trying to keep his head above water dealing with it, so that meant they ended up doing it Travis's way.
Which was the only way he ended up with his back scratching against the rough brick of a building in some alleyway and Travis pressed up against him, the two of them locked together in a kiss that Wes hadn't ever seen coming, at least outside of the deepest, darkest fantasies he refused to admit he had.
It wasn't a surprise that Travis knew exactly how to move his mouth against Wes's in a way that made him shiver despite the summer heat or that he knew to slide a thigh between Wes's with the perfect amount of pressure to be the worst kind of tease. Wes was usually sharp enough to keep up with whatever Travis threw at him but as the moment stretched and the kisses continued, all he could do was grab handfuls of Travis's shirt and hope he caught up soon.
Finally, Travis pulled their mouths apart and Wes gasped for breath, although he wasn't sure if it was out of a real lack of oxygen or the grunt of surprise that had been trapped in his throat since Travis had pushed him against the wall. Travis was panting, too, forehead resting lightly against Wes's temple as if they both needed a moment to make sense out of what the hell had just happened.
Wes's mind was still confusing to cooperate. "What the hell, Travis?" he finally managed to ask, a ragged demand for explanation.
"Yeah," Travis answered, breathy himself, a hint of laughter in his tone. "That wasn't where I was expecting this to go this afternoon, either."
They had been checking out some possible leads on a robbery down the street from the alley they were currently in, and, like had happened so often lately, they had ended up in an argument. It hadn't even been a worthwhile argument, Wes knew, just one of those things that seemed to crop up when they didn't have the immediate details of a case to ease the way between them. He was also pretty sure he had had the last word, although he couldn't recall them, words still pouring out of him when Travis had given him a strangely intense look before he had crowded Wes up against the wall and kissed him.
"Why did it?" Wes asked, even as he guiltily realized he still had his hand curled in the fabric of Travis's shirt. He slowly unpeeled each finger from its death grip and let his hands drop to his sides, fighting against the urge to push Travis away. "You kissed me!"
"I did," he said. "But good job at stating the obvious."
Wes glared, even though the effect might've been lost since Travis was still close, each breath warm against Wes's cheek. "Why, Travis?"
Travis pulled back a little so that their eyes could meet and he looked surprised at whatever he saw on Wes's face as he leaned in, balanced on an elbow on the brick near Wes's head. Travis raked a hand through Wes's chair, tightening his fingers ever so slightly when he neared the nape. "Aren't you tired of all the pigtail-pulling?" he asked. "I know I am."
"And it was a good way to shut you up," Travis continued, like Wes's world just hadn't been tilted on its axis by the fact Travis thought kissing him was something he wanted to do. "I should've done it sooner, really, but I've been waiting for you to catch a clue." He laughed. "My mistake."
Wes's mind had finally seemed to kick into gear but it was still wasn't making much sense of what had happened or what Travis was saying. He opened his mouth to try and force something out, something to cover his complete astonishment, to mitigate the flush he could feel crawling up his face as he finally registered that they were pressed together so that he could feel every line of Travis's body against his, something to express his complete inability to understand why his partner of five years had suddenly decided to kiss him when Wes had spent several months trying to pretend like he desperately didn't want Travis to do just that.
"Hey." Travis's voice was soft, like he had just realized how shell-shocked Wes was by the unexpected turn of events. One of his hands curved around Wes's jaw and he pressed a soft kiss to just above where his thumb brushed over Wes's skin. Then Travis used that hand to bring them eye-to-eye, pale gaze serious beneath the sweep of dark lashes as he forced Wes to really look at him. "I didn't mean to freak you out," Travis told him. "I just thought it was time we got it out in the open, you know? Me and you and...you know, both of us wanting this."
He didn't need to explain what this was, not when he was letting his hand slide down to toy at the first closed button of Wes's shirt.
A screaming, logical part of Wes, the part he liked to think of as his common sense, kept demanding that he deny what Travis was saying, that he push his partner away and insist that they never broach the topic again. It was probably the safe decision, the one Wes had made unconsciously again and again over the last few months, every time he had wanted to reach out and touch Travis but had stopped himself. But it wasn't much of a match to the pounding of his own heart in his chest or the unguarded look of hope that Travis was shooting him through his lashes, the promise of what could be in the possessive way Travis's hand settled on Wes's hip.
Travis was starting to speak again, his nervousness evident as he stuttered over his words. "I mean, I mean, I assumed that we both, you know, I..."
As Wes stopped the flow of nervous syllables with his own mouth, followed by the judicious application of his tongue, he decided Travis wasn't the only one who would be taking advantage of that particular silencing technique from now on.
When they didn't think about things too closely was when Wes and Travis worked the best, when they let their instincts take over. In those times, which most often happened in the middle of a case, in a high-stress situation, was when it was like they could read each other's minds, always knowing what the other needed or wanted. It was the thinking that seemed to get in their way, at least as far as Wes could see. It had been thinking all those months that had led to all the frustration, thinking and dwelling on how his feelings had changed and how he had to do something with them, push them away or tamp them down.
But then Travis had taken the decision from him with a biting kiss in an alleyway and now they were back to a certain kind of not-thinking about what happened between them that seemed to be working where all their careful pussyfooting had failed so very miserably.
Things were better at work with the tension cut so that they could back to doing what they did best: being the best damn detective team Robbery-Homicide had. The Captain noticed the ease between them and totally misinterpreted it, patting them both on the back and gloating about the miracles of therapy. Travis sent Wes smug, amused looks over their Captain's head until he wandered off, then he leaned over his desk, smirking at him as he said, "I think the Captain would be surprised if he knew just what kind of, um, therapy, he's talking about."
Three weeks ago, Wes would've wanted to smack him; now, Wes wanted to bite down on his bottom lip, but the effect he wanted was the same. "Maybe not," he deadpanned, allowing himself one quick glance in Travis's direction before he trained his eyes back on his computer screen. "He and the missus are into neo-tantric whatever, after all."
"Hmm, neo-tantric whatever," Travis repeated, a heat bubbling under the speculative note in his voice. "I bet we could get down with that."
"No," Wes said.
"What? Yes, we could," Travis continued. "I'm great in bed and you're pretty dogged. I think we'd figure it out."
Wes turned to glare, only to be distracted by the fact that Travis had the end of a pen pressed against his bottom lip in a mockery of thoughtfulness and he grinned when he took in whatever glazed expression was passing over Wes's face. It only made it worse and now Wes really wanted to smack him. He cleared his throat. "This really isn't the kind of discussion we should have at work, Travis."
He dropped the pen and sat back in his chair, almost sprawled. "Sustained, Counselor," he said. "We'll table it for later, then?"
Wes had never been so grateful for a case to appear in his life.
Considering they were detectives out of Robbery-Homicide, they spent entirely too much talking down crazies with guns, at least in Wes's opinion. If they had been actual hostage situations, S.W.A.T. would've been there but, more times than not, things just had a bad habit of going south on them when they finally got a lead. But at least there didn't tend to be pressure mines, which was something Wes had learned to be grateful about.
This time, they had tracked a perp who they connected to a series of liquor store robberies, the last of which had ended in the cashier's death from a gunshot wound. It was the worst kind of escalation and it pissed Wes off, especially since he knew he'd always carry a little guilt, wondering if he'd been better or faster if they would've caught the guy before he took someone's life.
At the moment, their approach had been instantly been cut off by the bang-bang-bang of three gunshots and they'd both ducked behind the car they had just stepped out of. Wes carefully watched the third floor apartment window from which the gunfire had come while Travis crawled back in the car to make the call for back-up. The few bystanders had fled at the first shot, so there was nothing but empty asphalt between them and the building. When no other bullets were forthcoming after several terse moments, Travis slid back out of the car and used it as cover to join Wes where he was hunkered down beside the front wheel. "Back up is on its way," he said. "See anything?"
Wes shook his head. "Windows are clear. I assume it came from the opened one on the third floor since that's where our perp lives and we didn't hear any glass breaking when the shots came."
Travis quickly glanced around, trying to get a read on their surroundings. "They've been quiet for a while," he pointed out. "They could be on the move. We need to get closer."
Wes agreed with a sharp nod of his head, which Travis returned before he slowly rose up.
"Watch my back," he told Wes.
"On it," Wes promised.
Wes did just that, keeping his eye on the window, looking out for any activity in it as Travis tried to keep creep closer to the building. Travis was also shooting glances toward the window, so Wes let his gaze sweep down along the perimeter just in time for all hell to break loose.
It started when he heard the familiar whine of approaching sirens that signaled that back up wasn't far away. Then there was the sound of gunfire again -- this time from multiple guns and while Travis was relatively protected from the shots coming from the window, he was completely unaware of the second shooter who had approached from the south. Wes was, too, until it was too late to do anything to stop the shot he took at Travis.
Wes reacted without thinking.
The next few minutes were hazy for Wes -- there was the impact of colliding with Travis, taking them both down to the ground, then there was a searing fire in right arm, followed by the swell of the sirens and shouting and general chaos that he couldn't be bothered to sort out when the fire in his arm refused to die. There were also Travis's hands on him, turning him over and patting him down even as he kept up a colorful stream of curses.
"Language," Wes managed to admonish, wincing as Travis jostled him again. When Wes finally opened his eyes, Travis was looking down at him, face stern even though his eyes were treacherously concerned, almost too-shiny in the morning light.
"You're a fucking idiot, do you know that?" Travis said as he put pressure on Wes's agonizing right arm. He hissed out a pained breath and managed to make out the tell-tale stain of red on his sleeve and now Travis's hand. "You jumped in front of a bullet. Are you out of your mind?"
"Since I met you? Probably," Wes told him. "They were shooting at you and you weren't ducking fast enough."
"Well, they shot you," Travis pointed out, even as his free hand curled around Wes's left one, tucked close between their bodies. "So who's the one who actually can't duck?"
"I'll be fine," Wes said even though he seriously felt like he was going to die because, damn, gunshot wounds hurt far worse than most people thought. Travis's obvious concern helped a little, though. "Did we get them?"
"We didn't but Kate did," Travis said. "And we're never going to live that down."
It probably wasn't appropriate -- and if he was ever stupid enough to share it with Dr. Ryan she'd probably have all sorts of reasons why -- but Wes couldn't help but laugh, even when it made him wince again in pain.
Travis joined in and it broke the hard lines of his features, even though his eyes remained suspiciously bright as he squeezed Wes's left hand.
They were still laughing when the paramedics showed up a minute later.
The one advantage to the fact that all their colleagues considered them as good as married was that no one raised an objection when Travis refused to leave Wes's side as he was carted off in an ambulance to the nearest hospital. The gunshot wound wasn't serious, despite the fact that it hurt like hell, but they took him in anyway, where his doctor decided he should at least stay the night. Wes might've protested but by the time they told him that he was already on the good pain meds and everything was a little too float-y for him to mount a decent objection to the plan.
"They must have you on some very good stuff," Travis said, settling in a chair by his bed side once the nurse was finishing fiddling with his IV line. "You didn't even say a peep when the doctor said you had to stay."
Wes looked down at the neat white bandage on his right arm. "I like the good stuff."
Travis grinned. "I bet you do, as much bitching and moaning you did before they got you some," he said. "You feeling better now?"
Wes tried to sort out his meds-addled brain for an answer. "Groggy," he finally said. "Still a little sore but not like before."
"Well, you were right," Travis said. "Dr. Ellison said it wasn't bad, all things considered."
"Of course I was," Wes said, eyes sliding closed. Then the second sentence sunk in a little more and he dragged his lids open to look at Travis. "So, you're flirting with my doctor while I lie here shot?"
Travis snorted, but he didn't say anything for a moment. Then Wes felt Travis's weight settle on the edge of his bed. "Well, she is a fox," Travis said. Wes frowned but Travis continued. "But, no. I just asked her about my partner, which would be you. Because I was concerned about the injury you got being stupidly brave by taking a bullet for me."
"A likely story."
"Come on, Wes," Travis said, as one of his hands settled right above Wes's sheet-covered knee, a gentle, reassuring touch. "I know you have issues-with-a-capital-I about this but you've gotta know that that's not how I'm playing this. Right?"
Wes regretted that the medication had made him loose-tongued enough to broach this conversation when he'd done such a good job of not having it since the two of them had started...whatever it was they had started. It had helped that they were almost a month in now, which had them at about twice as long as Travis's usual record, but it didn't stop Wes from waiting for that other shoe to drop, waiting for the moment it got awkward and Travis suddenly had his eye on some leggy brunette or lithe blonde that crossed their path. He had noticed that Travis hadn't been nearly as overt in his outrageous flirting lately but Travis could barely breathe without flirting, so it wasn't like he still didn't smile and bat his eyes at every woman who gave him a second glance.
"If I end up trading war stories with Janelle, I'll shoot you for real," Wes told him, again blaming the medication for the words coming out of his mouth. It was getting more difficult, though, a sign that he was finally sliding into the sleep the doctors and nurses thought he needed. His eyes slid closed as he finished. "That's how I'm playing this."
There were gentle fingers in his hair, a thumb brushing against the skin of his temple. "This is completely different, I promise," Travis said. The words were soft and Wes wasn't sure if it was because he was fading away or because Travis spoke them that way. The silence that followed, along with Travis's gentle caress, continued to soothe Wes toward sleep, so much so that he didn't have a chance to react to the next thing Travis said. "I waited a long time for you."
As much as he wanted to open his mouth and demand more explanation, all Wes did was finally succumb to sleep, the warmth of Travis's touch and his words following him into that blessed darkness.
Sometime later, when he blinked awake and disoriented, one of the most confusing things about his surroundings wasn't that he was in a strange bed or still hooked up to the IVs; it was that a completely unexpected person was watching him from the chair next to his bed.
"Alex?" he asked, blinking hard to make sure he was actually awake.
She smiled, looking as lovely as she always did. "How are you feeling?"
"What are you doing here?"
"Well," she began. "It turns out that, for a lawyer, you're terrible at paperwork."
"Ex-lawyer," he murmured, kicking himself for it when he saw the way it made her expression close off. "Sorry."
"Yeah, me too," she said. "You forgot to change your emergency contact paperwork," she explained. "The hospital called."
Wes grimaced. "Sorry, Alex."
"It's all right," she began, but then shook her head. "Well, actually, it's not. This call is exactly one of the reasons we..."
"...split up," he finished. "I know. I'm sorry."
"I am glad you're all right," she told him. "Travis told me the doctor said it was relatively minor as far as gunshot wounds go."
"Where is he?" Wes asked. "Travis?"
"I sent him off to get some coffee," she said. "He looks like he's been here awhile."
"The whole time," Wes admitted. "He probably needed the break."
Alex's face softened a little. "So you guys are getting along better? I'm glad."
Wes nodded a little. "Yeah, it's better than better, it's...really good. We're..." He hadn't been sure exactly where he had planned on taking that, but he trailed off, surprised at himself because there hadn't been too many places he could've been going except for the truth and he hadn't even thought about the circumstances under which he had planned to confess that to his ex-wife.
The problem with Alex, though, was that she probably knew him better than anyone except Travis and something must've shown on his face because her eyes widened a little and she looked like she had swallowed something very sour. "Are you...? Did that mean what I think it did?"
"Probably," he croaked, throat suddenly dry. "This wasn't how I was going to tell you."
There was something sad and aching in her eyes, if only for a moment. "It's okay," she told him. "I'm surprised but...okay. I mean, I've been telling you to move on for months, right? And you finally did."
Alex looked like she wanted to say more and Wes wanted to explain it to her, make sure he wasn't hurting her, but Travis chose that moment to knock on the door before he came in. "How goes it?" he asked Alex before he noticed that Wes was awake. The fact earned him a grin and a softer, "Hey you."
"Hey," Wes said back, realizing that something relaxed in his chest when he saw Travis. Something that hadn't happened when he saw Alex, he also realized.
Alex, understandably uncomfortable, rose to her feet, offering Travis a faint smile. "I think it's time I go," she said, even though Travis frowned at her announcement. "I'm glad you're all right, Wes," she said.
"I'll change my paperwork," he promised. "For real this time."
She glanced at Travis. "I'm sure you will." Alex leaned in to whisper something to Travis as she passed but she was obviously in a hurry to get out of the room.
"What was that about?" Travis asked as soon as the door closed behind her.
He tried to lift his right arm to scrub a hand over his face before he remembered he had a bullet wound in that one. He winced and then sighed. "I just accidentally outed us to Alex and she's not sure how she feels about it."
"Oh." It was a quiet, noncommittal sound, very un-Travis-like. "And how do you feel about it?"
"The plan hadn't been to spring it on her like that but what's done is done," he said. "It's not like it really matters." He glanced over at Travis and noticed his partner had a strange expression on his face. "What's that about?"
Travis shrugged. "What can I say? I thought there was a 50/50 chance that she'd see you all helpless and bleeding and throw herself at you and beg you to take her back."
"It happens, man," Travis told him. "I've seen it."
At first Wes wasn't sure what to say but then he remembered Travis's whispered words that had followed him into sleep and, for the first time, understood that maybe he wasn't alone in some of the worries he had. "Not with me and Alex," he said. "We're done." Travis didn't look convinced, so Wes added, "I've moved on. Seriously."
Travis's expression softened and Wes felt relief spread through him. "Okay, I believe you," Travis said, finally sidling toward the bed. Like he had before, he settled with one hip on the edge. "She didn't take it well, huh? Knowing that me and you...?"
"You saw her," Wes said, humor bubbling up. "I think we might've broken her mind."
"She's a big girl," Travis said. "She'll be fine."
Wes caught Travis's eyes. "Not really worried about her at the moment."
Travis smiled and leaned in a little, until his mouth brushed against Wes's, feather-light and teasing. "Yeah? Me neither, now that you mention it..."
They also managed to out themselves to Dr. Ellison and two of the nurses before Wes was discharged and neither of them minded one damn bit.
Wes thought he knew a lot about Travis from their five years of police partnership, and he did; still, he was amazed at all the things he didn't know, all the things he learned about him once they started sleeping together.
He learned that Travis really did think sex was the best way to mark almost any occasion the two of them happened upon, be it a fight, a celebration, a bust gone good or a bust gone bad. Travis was particularly in favor of still-angry-after-a-stupid-fight sex which worked well for them because Wes re-learned something about himself that he had long forgotten: he was much more conciliatory and apt to apologize after an orgasm or two. Luckily, Travis was just as much in favor of we're-getting-along-great sex or we-survived-another-week-of-group-therapy sex because, as time went on, there were way less fights to have sex after.
In the weeks after his release from the hospital, Wes also learned that Travis had a mother hen streak a mile wide, one he had apparently been suppressing for years when it came to his partner. It was a little disconcerting and also very different from what Wes was used to, even from back when he had been married to Alex. While she was a kind and caring person, she'd never been one for overt mothering and it had been something the two of them had in common. Now Wes was on the receiving end of eighteen foster mothers' worth of nurturing wisdom and while he was flattered, he was also a little unsure of how to deal with all the attention, especially when it was coming from Travis.
Another thing Wes had learned with frightening clarity since the first time he had dragged Travis back to his hotel room for some much deserved shower sex was that Travis did not particularly like Wes's hotel suite. Considering the fact that Wes's hotel suite came with many more creature comforts than Travis's trailer-inside-an-abandoned-warehouse set-up did, it was something that he demanded an answer to the first Travis argued that his place was a better evening destination.
"It's just impersonal," Travis said, shaking his head. "It's like...well, sleeping at a hotel. That's only a turn-on the first few times."
It took Wes a week of thinking about it and asking subtle questions before he realized that, as someone who had called 18 different houses home in the first 18 years of life, Travis had a real attachment to his place and his things to a point that remained only vaguely comprehensible to Wes. But it didn't really matter so much to Wes where they slept, as long as they did, so he agreed without fuss to spend their off-duty at Travis's, eating at his patio table set amid twinkling strings of Christmas lights and sleeping in his too-small bed, even if it meant Wes had to get almost two hours early on those nights to head back to his hotel to change each morning.
Wes refused to think about how sappy it made him that he didn't mind since it meant so much to Travis.
That night, Wes was cursing the bout of sentiment that had had him agreeing to Travis's preference because Travis's bed wasn't exactly made for two grown men. It barely fit the entire width of Travis's broad shoulders and had probably been a tight fit with all the many women who had slept with Travis there, ones which Wes emphatically tried not to think about. (He had, however, bought new sheets when he had made staying over a regular occurrence for his own peace of mind.) Now, though, with both of them trying to fit into it, it was decidedly wanting in a way that became ever more apparent after Travis's talented mouth and hands weren't distracting Wes from noticing.
"Hey," Travis asked, close to sleep, when Wes tried to rearrange his limbs once again so that he didn't feel like he was likely to roll off into the floor at any second. He was already draped over Travis to fit as well as he did and it was one of those suspicions Wes had on why Travis insisted on his tiny bed because it allowed Travis to pretend he wasn't a secret cuddler and instead blame it on necessity. But Wes wasn't fooled, especially after he'd went to sleep many a night with Travis's arms wrapped around him like he was afraid he'd disappear in the middle of the night. "What's up?"
"Just trying to get comfortable," he said, twisting a little more. The elbow that grazed Travis's ribs might've been accidentally on purpose. "Which is hard to do in this damn bed."
"Not this again," Travis groaned, although his tone was mostly good-natured. He pushed and pulled along with Wes until they were a little more comfortable, although Wes was still pretty damn sure he was going to roll his ass out of the bed if Travis's hold slackened much in sleep.
Neither one of them seemed in a hurry to fall asleep after that, although there wasn't really much to say. It still amazed Wes a little how well they could be quiet together in moments like this, but he also knew that it made sense, considering how much time they spent being loud together at work. He pushed himself up on his elbow so that he could see Travis in the soft glow of the lights that lit the warehouse around them, watch as Travis's fingers idly brushed over the scar left on Wes's arm by the bullet he'd taken. It was pink and raw, as new scars tended to be, but Wes hardly noticed it anymore, outside of the attention Travis sometimes paid it.
"Look," he began. "I get that you don't like the hotel but your bed is just not big enough."
Travis's fingers stilled on his skin. "What did you have in mind?"
"Haven't thought that far," Wes admitted. "Mostly a good night's sleep."
"You could always..."
"We need to figure something out for the both of us," Wes plowed on, glad that his face was mostly in shadows. "Otherwise we're both going to break our backs on this thing and not in the fun way you always talk about."
Travis grinned, teeth flashing white in the darkness as his hand resumed its petting. "It would be a lot of fun my way," he teased, at which Wes rolled his eyes. "But, you know, maybe you're right."
"Really?" Wes couldn't help but ask. "You're agreeing with me?"
"Yeah, I am," Travis said. "Sometimes even you have decent ideas."
"Gee, thanks," Wes grumbled but he let his mouth press against the sweat-dotted skin of Travis's collarbone to take away some of the sting in his sarcasm.
"I've actually been thinking about it, too," Travis continued. "I was thinking maybe it's time we, you know...upgrade."
"Meaning...you shouldn't still be in a hotel a year after your divorce was final," Travis told him. "And I might be persuaded to give up luxury to which I have become accustomed for the right incentive."
"So you want me to get a better place?" Wes snorted.
Travis's roaming hand had migrated to his back. "Actually I meant we both could."
It was a testament to the truly intricate workings of Travis's mind that he had managed to shock Wes -- again. He tried to read Travis's expression but the same shadows that had hid his face from Travis hid Travis's from him. "You're suggesting that we move in together? That we get a place together?"
"You miss your lawn," Travis said, an evasion. "I wouldn't say no to retiring old Bertha for the right replacement."
"It's still freaky that you've named your trailer," Wes pointed out, mostly as a way to buy himself time. He still wasn't sure he wasn't dreaming the entire conversation and he'd wake up, on his ass in the floor of Travis's trailer with a goose egg the size of his fist on the back of his head and a crushing disappointment in the hollow of his chest. "It's just -- I mean -- you're serious?"
"It was just a thought," Travis said, his tone wounded. He shifted under Wes, trying to pull away. "Never mind."
"No, no," Wes quickly said. "I think it could work. For the right lawn."
He could feel travel Travis relax bit by bit as his words sank in. "Yeah?"
"I mean it needs to be a great lawn," Wes said. "But yeah, we could do that."
He saw Travis's grin again, a beacon in the darkness. "Cool."
"And a very big bed," Wes added after a moment. "Huge."
"California King, even," Travis promised. "Just think of the fun we can have mattress shopping."
"Oh, god," Wes sighed.
"We'll find something so big it'll take a week to reach one side from the other," Travis teased. "Then you can quit bitching about it."
Wes contemplated their current position, curled up together as they were, before he took Travis's face in his hands, drawing his attention to him. "It doesn't have to be all that big," he said before he kissed Travis long and hard.
Wes, though he was loathed to admit it, had developed a grudging respect and appreciation for their group therapy sessions. It wasn't that he still didn't hate going to them or that he didn't spend most of those hours rolling his eyes and thinking about all the other things he'd like to be doing other than listen to the other couples drone on about their issues, but he was smart enough to realize that they had effected positive change in his and Travis's relationship. Probably not in the way the Captain had expected, but still, progress had been made.
Through a series of lucky and unlucky events, including Wes's injury, he and Travis had barely been in the sessions since their -- whatever they were calling it -- had taken another new turn, this one being their decision to move in together. Something that the two of them surprisingly had in common was that once they decided on something, they went after it, so it didn't take long before the two of them had narrowed down their choices of prospective residences to something they could both live with. It had a nice front lawn, room for entertaining on its back patio and it was close enough to work but far away enough from where Wes had used to live that it didn't invoke any wistful memories. They had even found a lot where they could park Bertha because Travis was a little too attached to sell her and Wes understood the need for backup plans, even as much as Travis's kept that little voice of doubt alive in the back of his mind. Still, he tried to be satisfied with the fact that they both signed the lease and rental agreement, even if Travis did roll his eyes and bitch about how Wes had to check every line of legalese before he'd let either of them set pen to paper.
Since it took much longer than they had planned to finish the paperwork, they were almost late to their group session but they tripped in just under the wire, joining the other couples as Dr. Ryan started to call the room to order. They started with following up on some breakthrough that Dakota and Peter had had at the end of the last session, which Wes neither cared about nor had been present to witness since he and Travis had gotten called away on a case, and he settled back to zone out of the session while Travis made sympathetic noises and pretended to care enough for the both of them.
Unfortunately, Dr. Ryan had other ideas. As soon as Dakota and Peter were finished, she turned her laser-like attention to Wes and Travis. "Welcome back, gentlemen," she said with a smile. Wes didn't trust that smile. "It seems events have conspired to keep you two on the periphery for the last several weeks."
Travis shrugged. "That's the job sometimes."
Her eyes moved between them and Wes wondered what she could see in them, what she might be able to read in the changes in their body language, in some other small tell he didn't know they had. He couldn't stop himself from tensing a little and, of course, she noticed that, too.
"I spoke with Captain Sutton," she continued. "He seems to think that the two of you have made remarkable strides in the last month or so. It seems you've worked out a way to manage your aggression with each other."
Travis coughed, mostly to cover the strangled noise he'd made at Dr. Ryan's statement because he was still, very often, just an overgrown teenager. "Yeah, you could say that," Travis managed to squeak out when Dr. Ryan narrowed her eyes at him.
"Would you care to elaborate?" she asked. "Because I have to say I agree with him. You both have been much more at ease in our sessions and I'd like to talk through some of the progress you've made."
Out of instinct, Wes glanced over at Travis to see that he was doing the same thing. He could see the uncertainty in Travis's expression, the question he was asking him without saying a word. It wasn't something they had talked about, really, the whys and wherefores of disclosing their relationship to people who weren't Alex, but Wes knew it was something they'd have to do sooner or later if they actually planned on it continuing. And considering they were about to file Address Change forms with the LAPD, they seemed fairly committed to doing just that.
Wes cleared his throat, making a decision which, once again, he'd had about three minutes to think about. It was just how it went, it seemed, when it came to him and Travis. "We...figured some things out," he offered, keeping his eyes locked on Travis's instead of dealing with the frank curiosity with which the rest of the group regarded him. "And dealing with those underlying issues helped us with everything else."
He dared a quick glance toward Dr. Ryan and she was still studying him like he was a specimen under a microscope. "That's rather vague, Wes. It sounds like there's more to the story than what you're saying."
Wes took in the attentive expressions on the faces that stared back at him, from Dakota's kindly interest to Mr. Dumont's sympathetic curiosity. "We, ah, reevaluated the nature of our partnership and...expanded the parameters of it to a point where the earlier frustrations were negated."
"Ha! Lawyered," Travis grinned. Wes caught his eye, unable to stop himself from grinning back.
There was an uncharacteristic silence that fell over the group, something unlike what usually happened when they digested whatever charming thing or whatever asshole thing Travis or Wes chose to share. Travis and Wes broke off their eye contact to glance around in concern, only to find six stunned people looking back at them. Only Dr. Ryan didn't look completely pole-axed by whatever conclusion they'd come to about Wes's halting explanation.
It was Rozelle who finally broke the silence. "Oh my god," she said. "Y'all hooked up, didn't you? Like hooked up hooked up!"
Wes was pretty sure that color was creeping up his neck. "In more colloquial terms..."
"Yes," Travis finished. "Yeah, we hooked up."
It was probably the nature of cosmic retribution that they had to suffer through the next horrifying few minutes as they listened to each of their fellow therapy-goers wax poetic on how it had been obvious since day one that that had been the problem between them.
"When you resolve that sexual tension, things just fall into place, man," Peter said, with accompanying hand gestures.
"I could tell there was something else going on," Grace added.
Finally, Dr. Ryan raised a hand to quiet them down. "That is quite the revelation," she admitted. Wes couldn't tell how she felt about it, though; her face was carefully blank. "Do you really think further complicating your relationship was a good idea when you still haven't worked through some of your basic issues?"
"I don't know," Wes admitted. "But it seems to be working so far." He glanced at Travis. "Right?"
Travis was smiling at him. "Yeah," he agreed. To Dr. Ryan, he added, "You wouldn't believe how much more mellow regular sex makes him, for one."
Wes buried his face in his hands as the room burst into giggles. "I can't believe you just said."
"Well, it is the truth."
"You want to spend the first night in our new place on the couch, don't you?"
"We've been together, like, five minutes and you're already going there? Really?"
It was Dr. Ryan's turn to sigh. "Perhaps not quite as much progress as we thought, yes?"
Wes looked up when he felt Travis's arm settle over his shoulders, a warm solid weight. "Maybe not," Travis said. "But we're getting there."
He caught the sincerity lurking behind the mischief in Travis's eyes and felt it spread through him like honey, warm and bright. Travis had an annoying habit of being able to do that, especially lately, but it reminded him of all the good that had come out of the last month or two, all the ways in which his life hadn't unraveled when he had taken that leap without thought, had just allowed himself to have what he wanted, despite the consequences. So far, there hadn't been many, but he'd already gained so much.
"Yeah," Wes agreed. "We are."