Things weren't good, per se, but they were definitely better. There was much still left to be discussed, and both were obviously still a little uncertain, but it was better. And that was certainly something.
The guilt hadn't subsided, but it dimmed just a little bit every time Peter let that rare, genuine smile slip though.
And he was Peter now, not Nureyev; Juno had finally allowed himself the luxury of that. It had taken time, to forgive himself enough to even grant him the right to think the man’s name, but it was worth it now to watch such sharp feature melt into a soft smile.
Still, there was no immediate forgiveness – Juno hadn't expected it – and he wasn't sure either of them really knew where they stood. It had been over a week and they had still only kissed once. It had been a brilliant kiss, everything Juno had been longing for a year compressed into a press of lips. But he dare not push for more. It was understandable, Juno thought, given how Peter’s assumption that Juno had only wanted him for sex. His hesitance to do anything physical bled out a little each time Juno lent in for a kiss, but he was prepared to give Peter time if it meant that this time they could get it right.
They had, however, found something of a routine. Juno continued to take later breakfasts than the rest of the crew, but he was no longer alone. Their mornings together were quiet, calm, and once the awkwardness dissipated might even be domestic.
It was one of these mornings that lead Juno to address a topic that had been puzzling him for a while.
“You bought me flowers,” the statement came out of nowhere.
Peter clearly wasn't expecting it, because his fork had frozen half way to his mouth. It hovered there a moment, while Peter struggled to find a response. A throw away, flirty remark would usually suffice, but the embarrassment blooming across Juno’s face made him intrigued, so he waited for the lady to continue.
“They were nice,” he said quietly, “I wasn't sure what to think when Rita said someone had sent me flowers – and I don't even want to know how you knew I'd be at her place – but then I saw them and…”
“Dahlias and roses. They seemed fitting.” And they were. Juno didn't know how many times he had replayed their brief time together before it all went wrong, wishing he could go back and make the most of his time married to Duke Rose.
“They were beautiful. But I couldn't help… I couldn't help wonder what they meant.”
Peter’s head tilted inquisitively.
“I wanted to hope that they were a good sign, that maybe they meant you didn't hate me. I could never be sure, but I hoped that maybe they were a sign. That things weren't completely ruined between us. But then, on the worse days, I would wonder if they were supposed to taunt me, remind me of everything I fucked up.”
“No, it's okay, Peter.” He stretched out a tentative hand, unused to giving comforting gestures but finding that it wasn't an unpleasant feeling, “I know now that you wouldn’t have done that, but I wouldn't blame if you'd have wanted to. I'm happy they were a good sign. They have me hope and that's not something I have very often.”
Peter’s hand beneath his twisted around to entwined their fingers, a soothing thumb rubbing over the back of Juno’s hand. His dark eyes melted into something soft as they landed on Juno, and the lady felt himself warm helplessly under that gentle gaze. When Peter broke the quiet, his voice was low and sounded distant.
“It was an impulse – a foolish one, most likely – that drove me back to mars at all. I had promised I wouldn't but, well, I couldn't help slipping back, just to check you were alright. When I realised it would be around your birthday –” he cut himself off, locking a little embarrassed. “My research under Miasma,” he clarified, for once fumbling over his words, “I read a few files on you, nothing intrusive, I assure you…”
As entertaining as a rambling Peter was, Juno stopped him, “it's okay. I figured you would've.” He'd been expecting Peter to know a hell of a lot more, but even when Juno was just some random detective to scam Peter gave him the dignity of his privacy.
“Yes, well I happened to be passing a flower stand and I… they were beautiful. And even if I had meant nothing to you I wanted you to know that you still meant something to me.”
Giving Peter’s hand a gentle squeeze, Juno tried to let himself relax. He wanted to bathe in the soft quiet that had fallen and just savour the sweet gesture without letting the guilt drown him. Just once he wanted to let himself have this.
Until Peter startled him out of it.
“It was such a stupid risk to deliver them in person.” The words were a harsh whisper, spoken more to himself than Juno, but they certainly caught the lady’s attention.
“Can you,” he needed to hear it again clearly, just to reassure himself he wasn't imagining things, “can you say that again?”
Peter sighed. “Yes, I know, it was a foolish move to send them at all, and I'm lucky you hadn't intended anything malicious in ending our relationship –”
Juno didn't have time for his rambling, cutting straight to the point. “That's not what I meant. You sent them. You.”
“I – yes. I assumed you knew that.” His voice rose slightly in pitch, the only indicator of his uncertainty. Juno would have time, later, to find it unfairly adorable, but first he needed his brain to slow down.
It was suddenly broadcasting a million different scenarios into his head: ones where where he was the one to open the door, one where he caught a glimpse of Peter through the window and chased him down, ones where neither said a word but were pulled by some unknown universal force into an unbreakable embrace. Realistically, he knew it wouldn't have played that way. He had been locked in a trance of sheer emotion at the sight of the flowers alone. If he had seen Peter then, Juno doubted he would've been able to do any more than stare.
But a lady can dream.
“Juno is everything okay? Was I wrong to do that?”
No. Never. Peter had given him just enough without pulling him over the edge.
“It was perfect.”