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The World's Coolest Walking Stick

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A crew member wanted a photo and asked very politely, so they put their arms round each other and let the flash capture smiles.

Paul felt his frown lines coming back, and then Tim put both his hands on his stick, leaning heavily, and so Paul opened the door for him, only worrying afterwards if it was offensive to do so.

And then they were in the dressing room together. Again. For the first time.

Tim sank into the sofa, face a picture of concentration as he settled his muscles.

"Hope she's not disappointed. She was probably hoping I'd kiss you." Paul heard himself say. "Like the old days, the disposable cameras they'd throw onstage, remember?"

"My legs are fucked, not my brain," Tim said, sounded more long-suffering than anything. And then, laughing, "Actually, technically my brain is fucked, but you wouldn't know that, you've not read the leaflets." He didn't sound like he cared much.

"Haven't I?" Paul reached for a bottle of water and violently wrestled the cap. "Drink? I've only got water and squash. And some stupid vitamin thing that tastes of piss."

"Never been a fan of that, really." Tim stretched himself out. He looked the same - that was what Paul couldn't get over. Lean face, dark eyes, legs that went on forever, those hands, describing things in the air with all the elegance he tried to parody out of the rest of him.

If those hands slowed up, that's when Paul would feel it, when he'd start to mourn it. Fuck. Fucking morbid mind he had.

But it wasn't Paul's business, not really. Not any more. 'And back when it was, when it started,' his inner detractor pointed out, 'your contribution was 'stop whingeing about your hangover and have a beer.'

He passed Tim another water bottle and watched with more relief than he cared to examine as Tim's hands wrenched it open effortlessly and lifted it to his lips, coming away wet.

Paul sank onto a chair, ran a hand over his face. "Was good tonight, mate."

Tim raised an eyebrow.

Paul often experienced cascades of negative associations, had learnt to process that about himself, but he wasn't sure if the memories surfacing now like a fucking 'This Is Your Life' showreel were cruel on the part of his psyche or not.

"Yeah, they loved it." Tim screwed the top on the bottle again, batted it against his thigh.

"Not the audience. We..." Paul's mouth was dry for some reason and he drank again before speaking, it was like some comedy routine. "Me and you. It was nice."

"It was." Tim studied him and Paul held his gaze, let him look and looked back. The hours they'd spent looking at each other, god, or not looking, or touching or not touching, on stage and off and never quite getting the right parts of all those options together.

He wished he'd kissed Tim properly, just once. He was way past admitting that to himself, it wasn't even news.

Still wanting to, though? That was still kind of a fucking kidney punch.

"If you let me pretend you need help walking to your car, you can totally touch my arse on the way there." Paul's brain didn't work like other people's, translated tender/good/care into obscene/hurt/godawful. But Tim had got that, once, in a way no one else had ever quite managed. They'd used to chat, not enough, not enough about the things he thought now that they should have done ('Your mouth and your hands make me happy to be alive, sometimes I watch a sunset and make it through a night because I can see you across a room, sometimes I think when I'm with you that everything is actually going to turn out fine') but the connection had been there and once it had seemed like it could never break.

"I wouldn't mind some help," Tim shot back, sitting up. "It may be the world's coolest walking stick but it doesn't stop me tripping over."

"Tim." He was still sitting on the chair, Tim was still on the couch; they'd shared a fucking bed more than once, he knew what Tim's mouth tasted like, he knew where he was ticklish and what he sounded like after too much pot.

Tim stood up. "Walk me to my car, get the fuck in and we'll get pizza." He was still a million feet taller than Paul, still looking down with those dark eyes, wavy hair falling into them. "Although if I actually succumb like a Victorian heroine on the road, it will do nothing for your reputation as a necrophiliac."

"That's old news," Paul grinned, Paul grinned a mile fucking wide. "I'd totally stuff a random koala up your arse and add bestiality."

"I'd like to see you try. No, really, I would." Tim was smiling through his deadpan voice and Paul offered him his arm and opened the door again and for quite a little while didn't worry about anything.

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