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Pages of Happiness

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Billy had never been a voracious reader, not of regular books at least. He had, back when he was learning English, gotten into comic books. There wasn't just wall of text after wall of text in comics, so there was less to read and as long as the art was good he could follow the action – unfortunately he did start reading comics in the 90's so sometimes he'd spend more time trying to puzzle out what the art was supposed to be. These days there were a lot of comics collected in trade paperbacks which he could buy in regular bookshops, which meant he visited those more often. None of this was to say he didn't read regular books, he did, but not so many books that it could explain why he'd been visiting a small bookshop that didn't even sell comic book trades, at least once a week lately, or why there were piles of books all over his apartment – he'd run out of space in his book shelf.

He had just happened to enter the small bookshop when he was trying to get out of the sudden rain, and while browsing without really paying attention, just to wait out the rain, he had met the owner of the shop: Goodnight Robicheaux – “please call me Goody” drawled in a southern accent.

Goody had deep blue eyes, and just because Billy was reading more he wasn't going to liken them to the ocean or anything, but yeah sometimes he did drift off a little looking at them; and he could definitely understand that whole 'getting lost in someone's eyes'-thing. His eyes were the most alive, the most filled with joy when Goody spoke about books.

“I guess I got carried away again, you're the only one who really lets me go on and on about this,” Goody had said once, and Billy had just hummed in agreement, glad that whenever Goody did go off on a tangent he was usually holding and looking at a book and thus missed the way Billy couldn't stop looking at him.

Goody's eyes had been the first Billy noticed, and then his pleasant voice and accent; and the way he smiled all crooked, his eyes smiling as well. He noticed the reverent way his hands touched and held the books, a finger softly dragging down the spines of the books.

That first time Billy had bought a book because Goody had spoken so glowingly about it. He dropped it on the kitchen table and then forgot about it, but didn't forget about Goody. He managed to stay away for a week before returning, however the first thing Goody had asked – after first smiling so widely and warmly at Billy that his knees had gone a little bit soft – was what Billy thought of the book, and he'd been forced to lie and said he was only halfway through, but he'd been passing by and thought he should drop in. He left with another book.

He read both books and returned a week later with opinions. They'd had the most fun discussion Billy had ever had in his life about both books, and when he left later he owned two more books and walked out with the growing feeling that perhaps he had a problem.

Billy was almost glad that he had to read the books he bought before he could go back, because otherwise he would be going out of his way every day to return just to listen to Goody talk and watch him, feeling something warm blooming in his chest.

Four months later and Billy had towers of books in his apartment, and both Vasquez and Red were making fun of him, but he couldn’t just ask someone out in their place of work, that would make things uncomfortable. Besides he couldn’t tell if Goody’s attention to him was purely out of a need to make Billy read more books, or if there was something else to it, and so all Billy could do was try and give hints, and flirt – even though he had no idea how to flirt – in hopes that Goody would take the first step.

Because sometimes it seemed like Goody was interested. He’d caught the man looking at him, little furtive glances, the way he lit up when Billy entered the shop, and how sometimes their fingers brushed and Goody would pull back quickly, and look down a soft hint of a flush on his cheeks.

However, the man also seemed oblivious to all of Billy’s hints and attempts to make it clear that he would be very much amenable if Goody would just ask him out.

Billy walked through the door after the longest he had been away, a week and a half, due to work keeping him too busy. And the first thing he heard was a loud coughing, the kind of cough that left you winded and your chest sore and exhausted. He walked over to the counter and peered over it, seeing Goody doubled over coughing so hard Billy worried he would keel over.

Goody straightened and looked at Billy, a light flush on otherwise paler than normal cheeks, and there was something dull about his otherwise so bright blue eyes.

“Billy,” Goody said, smiling and Billy’s heart jumped.

“How are you?” Billy asked, concerned.

“Oh, this? it’s nothing just a cough,” Goody said, turning away and coughing some more into his elbow, and it didn’t sound like nothing.

Billy leaned over the counter and reached forward, without thinking about how he was invading the man’s personal space and placed the back of his hand on Goody’s forehead, which was clammy and very very hot.

“You have a fever, why are you working?” Billy asked leaning back, Goody was staring at him with a strange expression before he shook himself and said, defiantly and a little bit petulant: “I do not.”

Before Billy really thought about what he was doing he protested and walked around the counter.

“What are–”

Billy grabbed Goody by the arm.

“I’m helping you get home,” Billy told the sputtering Goody who while protesting was letting himself be led by Billy towards the exit.

“I do have a business to run,” Goody said. Billy paused and looked around the empty store.

“I think staying closed one day will be fine,” Billy said. They made it to the door, but just as Billy reached for the handle, Goody reached past him and flipped the lock.

“I live upstairs, there’s a door at the back,” Goody said. Billy flipped the sign saying closed.

He turned to look at Goody who was swaying a little bit on his feet. Billy put Goody’s arm over his shoulders and together they made their way towards the back of the store.

There were more books in the room behind the door with the ‘private’ sign.

“This,” Goody began, but had to stop for a cough attack which had him doubling over. Billy bit his bottom lip.

“Sorry,” Goody said, voice lacking some of its usual strength, after he was done coughing. “What I was going to say was that this is where I keep the books I am not ready to sell yet,” Goody looked at one of the piles of books, but Billy wasn’t following his gaze instead transfixed staring at Goody’s expression, his face soft happy and full of love; Billy wasn’t jealous of some printed paper, but he couldn’t help wishing that expression would be directed at him.

They made their way up a narrow staircase, pressed tightly together Goody's warmth radiating into Billy and he had to remind himself sternly that Goody was running a fever.

The door at the top was unlocked and through it lay the apartment. Low ceilings, a small kitchen area with a counter separating it from the rest of the room with a comfy looking couch a tv set and a messy coffee table. To their left Billy could see through a door to the bathroom, and to their right was a closed door which Goody now led them to.

Through that door lay the bedroom, the walls painted a soft purple and a large unmade bed, and this really wasn’t how Billy had imagined he’d get to see Goody’s bedroom, suddenly feeling way too self conscious he let his arm drop from Goody’s shoulders.

“I’m...” Billy started worrying at his bottom lip. Goody turned his head and looked at him, tired but with a hint of amusement in the crinkling of the crows feet at his eyes. “Get into bed and I’ll go find you something to eat,” Billy said, backing out of the room.

He looked through the kitchen and eventually found enough ingredients to throw together some kind of soup, and while it simmered walked over to the wall opposite the kitchen area and looked at the bookshelves crammed with books, and then at the very bottom found a pile of comics, which made Billy smile.

He found a bowl for the soup and walked back to the bedroom; every now and again during the cooking process he had heard Goody coughing, and walking through the door now he was coughing again, but settled down as Billy rached the middle of the room. Goody was wearing just a white shirt, and sitting up in the bed, a pile of pillows behind his back.

Billy handed him the bowl and took a step back, standing there awkwardly and watching Goody close his eyes for a moment head bent over the soup bowl. Billy bit his bottom lip again not really knowing what to do with his hands clasped them behind his back.

Goody opened his eyes and looked over at Billy.

“Thank you,” he said, he still looked tired but his smile lit up his face. Then he patted the bed beside him.

“Sit,” he said.

“I don’t…” Billy started trailing off and unsure.

“Please,” Goody said, and Billy didn’t have any defense against that please and smile, so he walked back over and sat down on the bed, making sure there was a little bit of distance between them. Goody smiled at him before turning and tasting the soup, making a pleased little sound, that shot right to Billy’s heart making it swell with happy pride.

“So,” Goody started after a few more spoons of soup. “Is this how you planned on getting into my bed?”

Billy felt his whole body freeze and he stared straight ahead, unable to look at Goody.

“I’ve seen you looking,” Goody’s voice lowered, and Billy turned his head to look at im. He had tipped his head forward, not looking at Billy. “And I’ve been puzzling over it,” Goody continued. “What those looks could mean, surely they couldn’t mean what I thought they meant.”

“I’ve seen you looking at me,” Billy murmured. Goody turned his head and gave Billy a small smile.

“Well, how could I not?” Goody asked. “So out of my league, and yet...”

“Out of your league?” Billy asked. That was just confusing to him. “I’m not,” Billy said. He smiled and shook his head. “We are the same,” Billy said.

“I couldn’t let myself hope,” Goody said. “Thinking you would say something first.”

Billy huffed out a breath in an aborted laugh. Shaking his head ruefully.

“And here I was thinking I couldn’t ask you out to dinner in your shop in case it made things awkward.”

Goody chuckled, which unfortunately started another coughing fit, so hard it made the bed rattle and Billy had to take the bowl from unresisting hands before Goody sloshed soup all over himself and the bed.

Once it subsided Billy handed him back the bowl, and Goody ate some more of it before saying: “We’re not in my shop now.”

“Do you–” Billy started, “do you want to go to dinner with me some time?”

“Yes,” Goody breathed out. He lowered the bowl to his lap, and they sat there in a silence for a moment, just looking at each other.

“I wish I could kiss you,” Goody said eventually.

“You can,” Billy said. Goody looked down.

“I’m sick, I can’t...” Goody said.

“I don’t care,” Billy said. Goody shook his head.

“I can’t do that to you.”

Goody did put a hand on the back of Billy’s head, tilting it forward and then pressed a kiss to Billy’s hair.

“After our dinner,” Goody murmured. Billy straightened his head again looking at him, Goody’s hand still on the back of his head, fingers playing with a few loose strands of hair at the nape of his neck. “I will walk you home, and we will stop on the porch outside your door, and there I will give you a good night kiss after thanking you for a lovely dinner.”


“Yes,” Goody’s voice went even lower. “It will be a slow kiss, full of heat and promise and hope, as I will wish fervently for you to invite me in for coffee.”

“Just coffee?” Billy asked with a smirk, and Goody smiled.

“I don’t care. I just want to spend more time with you. My days without you are long and boring. You’ve been a bright light in my otherwise dull life, and for that I am grateful, but also greedily wishing for more.”

Billy ducked his head.

“I would like that.”

“And thank you for the soup,” Goody said, handing the bowl too Billy. “It was delicious.”

The blooming happiness in his chest grew stronger and warmer.

“You should lie down and rest, I’ll go–” clean up in the kitchen he had been about to say, but Goody laid down with his head in Billy’s lap and a smile and expression on his face that reminded him of a self satisfied cat.

“You told me to lie down,” Goody said.

“Yes, I did,” Billy said, smiling a little, he hesitantly carded his fingers through Goody’s hair. He turned his head and started coughing and Billy continued stroking his hair until he settled down again.

“Could you read to me?” Goody asked. Billy smiled.

“Of course.” Billy picked up the paperback from the bedside table and looked at its cover. “I’ve never read this one before.”

“It’s a good one,” Goody mumbled, sounding tired and Billy had a feeling he would fall asleep soon. “You can start over from the beginning. I’ve read it before.”

So Billy opened the first page of the book and started reading. Goody was asleep before he even reached chapter two. Soft even breaths, and Billy’s free hand buried in Goody’s hair. Billy kept on reading silently.