a story told in conversation - about and not with
your headcanons are now, well, canon. cannons. they shoot rainbows
[there is time]
It’s a surprising 7 o’clock phone call from Posner that alerts the Dakin-Irwin household to of the fact that change is afoot. Sure, it was expected, but, damn, they were taking their sweet time with it.
“Hullo? Everything alright, Pos?” Dakin answers. It is not so rare for Posner to be calling that it is alarming, but rare enough that he’s frowning in that way Tom finds so endearing (so much so, he has to work his most complex cases sitting on the toilet, or he’ll be thoroughly distracted).
There is also the fact that 7pm is too late for a social call, but too early for a truly dramatic emergency call.
“Have you seen the news today?” comes David’s excited answer. When he gets like this, Stuart can still see him skipping down Cutler’s stairs and into the van that would take them all to Oxford, seventeen and ready to take on the world, tie askew and all. It makes him a bit nostalgic, and Dakin doesn’t do nostalgic, so he presses on, maybe a bit more harshly than necessary: “The world is full of news, there’s more every minute.”
“Oh, bollocks. You know what I mean, you disgraceful-
“Fine, fine, we lot can get married. Hooray. Been there, done that.”
“”We lot”? Do you even listen to yourself, Dakin?”
“Constantly. It’s a joy, isn’t it?”
“Just give the phone to Tom, will you?”
“What? All this and it wasn’t even me you wanted to talk to? I am affronted. Wounded.”
“There nothing that could wound you. Now, Tom, s’il vous plaît .”
Stuart sighs and saunters over to the sofa, where Tom is definitely not falling asleep in front of a documentary.
“It’s Posner,” Dakin declares, with just a hint of disgust, “He wants to talk to you.”
Irwin doesn’t take the bait, and ignores his husband. Sometimes, Stuart really needs to be ignored. “Hello, David. How are you?”
“I am getting married.”
Tom pauses. Then. “Does Scripps know, or is this like when you got together?”
David pauses. “I am going to propose and all. It will be very romantic. I just don’t exactly know how yet.”
It suddenly dawns on Tom what the other man wants. “Oh, no. No, no. You want advice?”
“Do you recall whom I’ve spent the last twenty-five years with? Romanticism is just an artistic and literary movement for me.”
“Hey!” Dakin yells from his corner of the sofa.
Tom smiles at him, silently, privately, and all is already forgotten.
“But you are so… so put together, and you’re good with words and I need help with a speech, and I normally would ask Don, but of course I can’t do that now, and I… I just need someone to talk this over with, okay?”
“Tell him he needs my permission first,” Dakin butts in again.
“What?” Both Irwin and Posner ask.
“I’m assuming he wants to marry my best friend, right? He needs to ask for his hand.”
Posner and Irwin groan.
“Fine. Tell me what you got so far. Where are you going to propose? At home?”
Dakin pouts and flips the channel to some random action flick, but puts the volume on mute. He watches the explosions reflected in Tom’s glasses and the flashing lights bounce off the tiny spatter of freckles on his cheeks and nose. He bundles closer, thinking to better eavesdrop the conversation, but the minute he has his head on Irwin’s shoulder he’s out like a light. After all, it has been a very long day.
[there has been time]
They have been (not-quite) living together for three years and a handful of months. It all blurs, really, from the moment Scripps resurfaced with a mini-Scripps at his side, to when he and David picked their friendship back up like not a moment had passed, to when, somehow, they were raising a daughter together. Scripps’ daughter, technically. And Posner had his own place, technically.
At the last class reunion, they had shown up together, and Akthar had looked skyward and sighed his trademark “I really don’t want to be in the middle of this again ” sigh, and Posner had decided that it was directed at Dakin and Irwin. It had to be.
Timms had ignored both of them to coo on Petra. She usually tried to act all grown-up, but she also liked to be cooed at, so she let him. Timms really liked kids and didn’t have any of his own yet (nor did he have siblings to provide him with tiny Timms to call him “uncle”), so he shared babysitting duties with Akthar (who was married, and called the pupils of his school “his kids” to his wife’s chagrin and did not seem ready to be a father) and tried to steal everyone’s kids or baby brothers or sisters. It was usually adorable. He was very good at pretending to be played like a fiddle, and then sending everyone to bed at exactly the agreed time.
Mrs. Akthar was a teacher, and soon roped Irwin and Posner into a discussion. God knows about what, but it seemed like an inescapable law of nature, an ancestral call all teachers (regardless of whether they were currently employed as such or not) had to answer when near one of their own. Dakin and Scripps let them be, and did a whole rainbow of shots, with Crowther and Lockwood cheering on - Lockwood with his fourth or fifth pint nearly spilling over in his enthusiasm. Timms was their designated somewhat-sober person/babysitter/actual babysitter (none of them would be driving anywhere - this was mostly for the pub’s benefit, because they are not monsters like the Riot Club, and also because there is a small child who needs someone to cover her ears every time uncle Dakin opens his mouth, more or less).
Scripps and Dakin wandered back to the table from the bar, and the groups dissolved and reformed again in an ebb and flow of conversation. Posner, whether by accident or deliberation, ended up in the corner next to Dakin. They got on well, almost surprisingly so, considering how little they truly had in common. And because the did not see each other much, they always had little bits of news to exchange, from reactions to political events to gossip about the others.
“Still sure that teaching is your calling?”
David hiccuped. “You make it sound so noble. Scripps does, too. It’s a job, it pays the bills. Don’t get me wrong, I like it. Love it, even. But I am no slefless saint.”
“Do you sometimes want to strangle the little buggers?”
“God, yes,” he groaned.
Stuart laughed and ruffled his hair. “They mustn’t take you all that seriously, too. You still look like a baby, while the rest of us get old. How do you do that?”
David shrugged and found it in him not to blush. In the end, he had truly stopped caring. He wasn’t sure if had been Cambridge, though. Probably not.
“By the way,” Dakin continued, without waiting for an answer, “How is it going with the Scripps? They driven you insane yet?” he paused, “Are you actually officially living together now, or do you just always pick up the phone there because? I mean, no offense, but sometimes I want to talk to Scripps, you know.”
“You’d find him if you just remembered not to call when he’s at work,” Posner huffed. Then paused: drunkenly, solemnly paused. And thought. “You know I’m in love with your best friend, right?”
“ I did, wasn’t sure if you’d gotten the memo. About fucking time. Are you going to tell him? Please tell him, before he tries to convince himself he’s straight again. It wasn’t pretty the last time, and it won’t be if it happens again. Trust me, I am an expert on this.”
David couldn’t help but laugh. “On Scripps or on being straight?”
“Both, probably. More on Scripps, though,” Dakin replied in all seriousness, which impressed and amused Posner to no end. No one had ever found the heart to explain to Dakin what bisexuality was and that he might have a case of it. They all let him get away with his Don Juan complex and his only-exception theory simply because he was too charming. (Well, Freud had something to say about Don Juan and repressed homosexuality, of course, but then again Freud was a stuffy old bastard with a very narrow worldview.)
“Tell him what? He’d run for the hills, and I’d never see Petra again.”
“Oh, don’t be so dramatic, Pos. He adores you. And so does Petra. She’s your ally, by the way.”
“I’m not sure she’d be quite so happy to know that her father… you know, if her father…”
“She’s quite happy to have you at parent-teacher conferences.”
“That’s because I am a teacher and it usually goes over well! Not because… because…”
“Because you accidentally adopted her and she quite likes you as a mother?”
There was a newspaper abandoned on the table, damp with beer. Posner rolled it up and beat Dakin on the head with it. It gave him immense satisfaction, and, for a fleeting second, the warm weightlessness of the evening was obscured by the ghost of Hector. He chased it away with a glass of ice cold water - no more alcohol for him.
While Stuart was busy complaining, Tom slid into place beside him, but spared him no sympathy. “I assumed he deserved it, David,” he said, with only the slightest interrogative hint at the end.
David nodded. “He was saying I should tell Don how I feel for him.”
Tom fell silent and stared at David like he’d forgotten who Henry VIII was in the middle of an exam. Or something. Sodding school metaphors. “Do you mean… are you telling me he doesn’t… I assumed….”
“Mr Irwin at a loss for words!” Stu exulted, with his face still mashed against the table.
Judging from his pained grunt, Mr Irwin had not appreciated, and had just kicked him in the shin. Posner almost felt sorry for him.
“Forgive me for the blunt question, David, but are you two not living together?”
“In a manner of speaking. I still have my own place, technically.”
Tom let out a pained sound, a high-pitched whisper of a wail. “Oh, for fuck’s sake , Posner!”
In that moment, David decided two things. One, that he and Tom could be friends. Would be friends. That Tom was truly a very decent chap indeed, when he was not Mr Irwin.
Two, that he really needed to get his shit together.
[time and time and time]
It was a dark and stormy night. It really was. As his umbrella was being mercilessly carried away by the wind, Scripps felt a deep kinship with Snoopy. If he had to write an article about that evening, hell, a story or a novel set that evening, he would not be able to find a more fitting incipit. And it would suck. Like that evening. The wind was howling, the sky was ten shades of dark, darker and pitch fucking black, and it was raining in buckets. Buckets which were merrily splashing all on Scripps’ now defenceless head.
And he would get home, and the house would be - empty. That’s what it would be. Because he was meant to work late, so Petra was with Stu and Tom (yes, yes, terrible influence, but they were in town and, well) and Posner - his train of thought derailed, then crashed into a wall. Posner had no business being at Scripps’ apartment, really. True, he was there a lot, but he had his own place, technically, and, well, he was not on babysitting duty, and Scripps had not invited him, and even though he had the keys (for emergencies), he would not be at home. As Scripps’ home, he meant.
Oh, bugger .
So he came home that evening, soaking wet and miserable, as he had many times and still would in the future. And, as many times before and since, he heard Posner sing from the kitchen. The smoking ruins of his derailed train of thought let out a shrill whistle and then died.
“Over here, can’t come now!” a cheery voice replied, like everything was absolutely normal. And it was. And it would be.
Don entered the kitchen (his kitchen, where he could barely find tea mugs) to find himself enveloped in an infernal heat and a heavenly blend of smells, with his oldest, dearest friend (may Dakin forgive him the thought) wearing an apron and cooking four things at once. He didn’t even know exactly, or care, what. But it all smelled so familiar, and Scripps was overwhelmed.
David sensed it immediately (and somehow it seemed - it was - normal, that he could read him, sense him, even), closed the oven and drew closer, looking him in the eye. “Everything alright, Don?”
“I am so happy you’re here,” he choked out, because he needed Posner to know that, first and foremost.
“Oh, that. Right. I thought, with the holidays coming up, I don’t really need to go back home, since I don’t have work early tomorrow, and I was going to be on my-
All at once, Don dropped his briefcase, stepped closer to David, sent up a quick “forgive me for the incoming fuckup” prayer and a less devout “but to be fair if You don’t like Pos, You’ve got shit taste” and then asked out loud: “Can I kiss you?”
Which, considering that his lips were already touching Posner’s when formulating the question, might have been nearly superfluous. But this was - this felt - this was precious and important and terrifying and he wanted so much, and yet he had not known until a moment ago.
Posner kissed him. Finished kissing him. Started kissing him. Like never before and many times since.