The days roll on.
Principal photography for SBaHJ begins at the end of April, and all of your time becomes resolutely consumed by work. You drive to the set every day at six in the morning and you're lucky if you get out by eight at night; many days you end up stuck until midnight or later. The hours are brutal, but they at least mean you get through shooting (relatively) quickly, and keep the SBaHJ franchise rolling on its clockwork movie-a-year cycle that Meenah adores so much.
You warned him repeatedly that this would happen, but Dirk didn't seem to really comprehend just how seriously busy you would be until shooting actually began. You all but vanish off the face of the earth to him, as he is eager to remind you; the most substantive interaction you seem to be able to get with him is a phone call or pesterchum conversation at lunch, and all bets are off on actually getting time off to see him in person.
You get all of a month into filming before it seems like Dirk is going to go fucking insane — he was calling you near on every day at the beginning, but after you have to refuse to see him time and time again, even his persistence eventually dwindles in the face of your workload. You've had sex all of twice since filming has started, and he seems more stressed out by your schedule than you are.
For some reason, you start to actually feel bad for him. You told him you wouldn't have time, and it's only for three months, but he grows so piteously forlorn over not being able to fuck you as often as he'd like that you start considering a much more permanent — and stupid — solution than is probably warranted.
Dirk's backed off again, but when he calls you for the first time in a week it's right when you know you're going to be stuck working late again. You're waiting for the lighting and makeup to be redone for the next scene when he calls you at ten.
"Hey, you gonna be free tonight?" he asks, a poorly concealed, impatiently demanding tone to his voice that has rapidly grown to become characteristic.
You lean back in your ratty director's chair with your phone to your ear and release a sigh. "No, not tonight. Still on the set. I don't think I'll be home until one, probably. The cameraman shit the bed on our good take and nobody noticed 'til we'd moved on, so we're gonna have to reshoot it and that'll take all fucking night."
There's a brief pause. "I haven't gotten laid in over a week," Dirk complains.
"I told you th— ugh." You interrupt yourself as one of the crew walks past where you're seated. When you speak again, your voice is dropped to a whisper. "Look, it's not like I'm any less keyed up than you are. But I'm working 12 to 20 hours a day, I don't have the time or the energy to..." You trail off, suspiciously glancing about for anyone who could potentially overhear. "Hold on, lemme take this to my trailer."
Dirk sighs dramatically over the line and waits as you make your way out back to where the trailers are parked, a veritable throng of people moving to and from the darkened lot. Between the dying street lamps' poor illumination and your omnipresent shades, actually seeing where you're going is a fucking feat, but you've tread this path so many times you could probably get there literally blind.
After ensuring no one is loitering around your trailer, you climb up into the vehicle and close the door securely behind you. You pull off your shades and flop down onto the trailer's narrow fold-out couch, psyching yourself up for what is no doubt about to be a daunting conversation.
"We barely even see each other anymore," Dirk grouses as soon as he gathers that you've settled down.
"I know," you groan in exasperation. You pause for a moment to consider how to word what you want to say, how to best navigate his dumb ass neurotic bullshit — but you eventually conclude you just don't have the fucking energy for theatrics. "Fuck it, do you want to just move in with me?" you ask, straight to the point.
Dirk seems legitimately taken aback by the question. There's a long, awkward silence before he eventually replies, "What?"
Well, at least he hasn't dismissed the suggestion off the bat. That's more than you'd expected. "I mean, there are still three months left until shooting is completed and my schedule isn't gonna get any clearer until then. If you live with me we'll at least be able to see each other in the mornings."
His responses grow markedly strained, with lengthy pauses between when you speak and when he actually answers. "... I don't know," he says non-committally; you can tell he's pretty torn between the opportunity to get laid more frequently and anything that would confer some sort of increased degree of intimacy and domesticity.
"Why not?" you ask, even if you know this ridiculous song and dance is practical obligate from his stupid man pride bullshit. May as well just play along.
"I don't want to be your pet," is the reason he settles on. You sigh.
"You wouldn't be my pet. You'd be my fuckbuddy, who lives with me."
"I couldn't afford to pay the rent for whatever that fucking sky castle is worth."
"I don't pay rent, I own the entire apartment complex."
"Yeah, you own it. I don't."
"Jesus Christ," you groan. You know better than to try to convince him that being a kept man wouldn't be the death of his manhood. "Then keep paying for your old shithole while you stay with me. The fact you fucking live there weirds me out aside, it's fucking disgusting —"
"My apartment is fine," Dirk stubbornly interjects, a clear hint of offense in his voice. His apartment is a fucking sty in the worst part of town — you drove him home exactly once, and you don't have enough fingers on both hands to count the number of things in that building that made you want to vomit. The halls smelled so heavily of cigarettes you couldn't stand it, and his apartment itself was covered in mold and water damage and what he very resolutely assured you wasn't rat shit. He hadn't had a rat problem for over two weeks.
But he worked for it, and he paid for it with his own money, so of course shittalking it has wounded his precious pride.
"Whatever. If it makes you feel better to keep it, then do that. Hell, you could move back out once filming's wrapped if you want," you say, before moving on to a more blatant angle of persuasion. "I just want to fuck you more than once every two weeks, dude."
"... I need my own space," he eventually replies. Not an outright refusal. You can work with that.
"That's fine. I've got a guest room you could take. It has its own private bath and everything."
Another long pause. You kinda wish you could see the look on his face; he's probably doing that thing where he looks like he's constipated with indecision, but is trying his best to conceal it, in the process making himself look even more constipated. He eventually gives you a phenomenally reluctant answer: "All right."
"That's it? You'll do it?"
"I... guess," he begrudgingly accedes. He's quick to add, "If it gets me laid more often." Heaven fucking forbid he let on that there might be any other reason he'd want to live with you beyond an increased ability to pound your sweet ass.
"Whatever. Pack your stuff, I'll call you next time I've got a free night and help you move in. Should probably be tomorrow, even, we have a relatively light schedule planned."
You hang up the phone, glad for a little relief to a remarkably shitty day.
Rather unusually for you, you actually luck out and get out fairly early from shooting the next day. Right when you'd planned, even! Unheard of.
You call Dirk, drive home, and you're not back in your apartment five minutes before he texts you to come help him bring shit up from his car.
ill have aradia come down so nobody sees me, you text back. He doesn't respond.
You grab your keys and go and make your way over to the back door of your apartment, across the short balcony linking your apartment and the service elevator floor you share with Aradia, and then through the mirrored set of doors on her side of the building.
"Hey, Aradia," you shout out into apartment as you let yourself in. She doesn't get much privacy with your nosy ass constantly barging into her apartment, but she's never raised an objection. "You got a minute?"
Your assistance emerges from her bedroom at the sound of your yelling, as duteously prepared as she always is. "Yes. What do you need?"
You throw your thumb over your shoulder as you lean against the doorframe. "I, uh, need your help bringing some shit up into the apartment," you say. Aradia's look is mildly inquisitive, and you reluctantly clarify. "Dirk does. He's moving in."
"All right," Aradia says, predictably unfazed. Or what should have been predictable to you. She's never given a shit about anything you've ever done in your entire life, and yet for some reason you still constantly worry about her judgment. "Where am I needed?" she asks after you sort of just stare awkwardly at her for a moment.
"Oh, uh, he's out in the back lot. Just look for the oldest and shittiest looking car you can find and that'll be him. I'll leave the service elevator doors open."
You make your way back into your apartment to wait after Aradia's gone down the lift. After another few minutes, you hear the sound of the elevator returning and get up to look at what they've brought in. Aradia is carrying a suitcase and a box, and Dirk is burdened by two other relatively small boxes. You know for a fact that Aradia can carry a hell of a lot more than that, so you surmise that that's all he's brought.
"Is that it?" you ask, taking one of the boxes off of Dirk's hands.
"Yeah. Not like I have much shit to bring," he replies, something aimlessly bitter and challenging about his tone. You surmise that he wants to go about this as reluctantly as possible, but can't actually find anything to complain about. You elect to just ignore his aggravating petulance.
You bring the box into the apartment and leave it on the dining table for now; Aradia and Dirk follow your lead, placing the rest of the stuff next to where you put it. You thank Aradia for her help, and she quietly excuses herself, making sure to lock all the doors behind her as she leaves. After she's gone, you turn to Dirk and set off into a spiel.
"Okay, before we unpack this shit, here're the rules. Don't go in my office, and don't touch my computers. You can do whatever you want, otherwise. If you need food or anything you can just ask Aradia and she'll —"
"I can buy my own shit," he interrupts. Pissy brat voice.
"Whatever," you brush him off. "Also, don't loiter in the apartment complex, if you wanna come and go use the service elevator. Don't park your car near mine. Don't leave the apartment less than ten minutes after I leave. Don't order out yourself or do anything that would require someone seeing you here, if you want a pizza ask Aradia to do it for you. Don't talk to any of the building staff." The realization hits you. "... Shit, I totally forgot about the maid service. I'm gonna have to cancel it."
A sneer gradually blossoms over Dirk's face as you list off the numerous things he is required to do so that he may remain your dirty little secret. By the time you're through, he looks thoroughly annoyed. "Okay, so you want me to hide myself here like some sort of fugitive?"
"It's not like we can fucking tell people, dude," you say. "If the fact I was fucking you got out I'd be dead."
God dammit. "I don't know, because you're my fucking brother?"
"Nobody knows that. Everybody who knows who I am to you is dead. All anybody would know is that I'm some guy."
"Yeah, exactly. A guy," you say sharply. You've been over this enough times that it's more than tiresome to have to go through it again. "The media thinks I'm straight, remember? It'd be a horrific shitstorm —"
"You're such a fucking coward," he interrupts yet again. "Who gives a fuck? It's not like it'd even affect your career in any meaningful fucking capacity. You're your own fucking boss, nobody's gonna fire you. The only thing you're afraid of is some petty goddamn gossip, which is honestly pathetic."
You're not beyond the point of being fazed by his confrontational bullshit, but you're at least learning how to deal with it. Telling yourself that he's some sort of real life troll trying to deliberately bait you into an emotional response is the only way you are able to remain sane, so you put on your best dismissive airs and inform him of how little a shit you give about his opinion. "Whatever, guy, when you're a public figure with a reputation at stake you can call the shots. But until then, I'm choosing to not deal with the fucking drama. It's not worth it."
"This shit affects me too. Having to sneak around is fuckin' stupid."
"Then leave if you don't like it," you declare, making it very clear in your tone that this is the end of this conversation. You turn and move to the kitchen to get a knife to cut open the boxes with.
Dirk, of course, ignores you. "S'not like you'll even be able to hide it. We'll slip up, eventually. Might be years from now, might be a month from now. It's only a matter of time 'til somebody talks, and then what?"
You stop with your hand curled around the handle of your knife, still in its block. You turn back to him, brow furrowed. "... Are you threatening me?"
"God, you're fucking ridiculous," Dirk snorts.
"No, really, what the fu—"
"All I'm saying is that you're a fucking fool if you actually believe this is gonna stay quiet forever so I don't see the goddamn point in playing this dumb little game."
You pause and share a tense confrontational stare, before you finally break the silence with, "I'll cross that bridge when I come to it."
You pull the knife out of the block and stalk your way back to the table. You cut through the tape on the one taped box and set the blade aside, but when you look back to Dirk you feel oddly uncomfortable about leaving a sharp implement within his reach, so you pick it back up again and return it to the kitchen. He watches you as you leave and return, but doesn't comment.
You open the box closest to you and make a quick survey of the contents. It isn't really much of anything: just a few old DVDs; a VHS for Let My Puppets Come — which appears to be a puppet sex move from the 70s; a number of books about fucking Plato of all things; and an assortment of shit you can't even identify. You're setting them out onto the table when you make the mistake of glancing up at Dirk, as he pulls something out of one of the other boxes that makes your blood run cold.
"Holy shit, what the fuck is that??"
Dirk stills mid-motion to look at you like you've gone nuts. "What the fuck is what? It's just Lil Cal, dude."
Oh god. Oh god. You'd thought you'd forgotten that fucking thing but it's all coming back now — it's gotten a couple of decades on, with nicks and blemishes you don't remember, but that sure as hell is the same fucking doll.
You remember how its beady little fucking eyes would follow you wherever you went, how you could see it fucking move out of the corner of your eye, how you could swear you could hear it whisper if you were close enough, and the shit it said was never fucking good. You used to wake up in the middle of the night and see it sitting on your fucking chest and it felt so heavy you couldn't even move, and you'd cry and fucking cry until your Bro woke up and he'd have to crawl into bed with you because that's the only way he could get you to stop before your foster parents would hear and come yell at Bro even though it was your fault.
Your heart is beating so fast you can hardly stand, and your locked stare on that abomination doesn't help at all. It's like all twenty-seven years of lost time just hit you in the chest all at once except it's the most awful fucking feeling and holy shit you're practically having a fucking panic attack over a fucking doll what is wrong with you —
"It's just a fucking doll, dude," Dirk echoes your inner dialogue, brow condescendingly quirked. Your eyes snap up to his, and after you've finally broken from its stare you desperately resolve to look anywhere but at it.
"Just... just keep that thing in your room. I don't want to see it. Please," you outright beg him, well fucking beyond any measure of pride at this miserable point.
Dirk just stares at you for a moment before finally shoving Cal back into the box. It feels like a weight has been lifted when the infernal demonic effigy is safely out of your sight. "Whatever, man," he dismissively drawls, before picking up the box to walk past you to his new room.
Kind of shell shocked, you leave the rest of his stuff on the table and wander over to the living area to slump bonelessly onto the couch. That's where you remain until he emerges from the bedroom not long after. You look up at him, your expression evidently so pitiful that he immediately rolls his eyes at the sight of you.
"I'll unpack later," he says. "Don't tell me you're too scared to fuck tonight, it's only ten."
"I —" You honestly want to tell him no, but you feel bad enough for him and dick-starved enough yourself that you resolve to just power through this awkward setback. "Can you just — give me a minute?"
"Whatever. I'm gonna go take off my clothes and lay on your bed and start jacking off, and if you don't come in by the time I'm done I'm just going to jizz all over your sheets and then fall the fuck asleep," Dirk announces as he strides past you to your bedroom, presumably to begin doing exactly what he just described.
You don't know what to do other than to sigh.