So, I sent out a query for suggestions, and besides SuperBat which I just did, this one seemed to come up a lot. (There was a request for Shane/Mikhail, but since I'm currently writing them a cameo for a book coming out in September, I thought it was safe to ignore that.) Anyway-- I think they're right. Dawson and Jared from Behind the Curtain probably have a lot of adventures left to explore.
Including moving in June...
* * *
"Dawson make him stop." Amber regarded Dawson from unfriendly kohl-rimmed eyes. "Please. Four months in the pool and he thinks he's fucking Captain America."
Dawson let out a growl and strode into the apartment to kick his boyfriend's ass.
True to the plan, they were moving down to Sacramento for Dawson's last few years in school, in the apartment over Benji and Darian's. Jared showed up on Dawson's porch in February, exhausted, in pain, and still recovering from knee surgery-- doctors had given him a year, minimum, before he could go without crutches and a brace.
Jared had pitched in for rent out of his savings and spent his time in the pool with a trainer, trying really hard to fix himself before then.
On the one hand, sex, company, and general domestic madly in love bliss.
On the other hand, "Jesus, Jared, calm the fuck down already!"
Jared had one crutch under his armpit and a gathering of clothes on hangers held up in the other hand, and Dawson reached for the suits with a little bit of force.
"Yikes!" Jared yelped, hopping up and down on his good leg. "Dawson, you're gonna knock me over!"
"What was your job!" Dawson demanded.
"I am fully capable of--"
"What was it?" Augh! It was bad enough Jared had only barely relaxed on his dancer's diet, carefully counting calorie and gelatin content in just enough ratio to help him heal faster while he continued to stomp ruthlessly on carbohydrates so he didn't gain weight. It was bad enough that he spent the time Dawson was in school researching teaching positions and taking business classes and doing cost analysis spreadsheets. It was just fucking bad enough that he couldn't seem to relax long enough to get better--he had to try to help with the move, when that was the one thing he seriously could do very little about.
"I was supposed to sit at the table, study the road maps, and help you get to and from your new apartment with a minimum of wandering around lost," Jared said with a beat-down sigh.
Dawson nodded sincerely. "That's a good goal."
"Because I get lost."
"I am aware."
"Because there are one way streets down there!" Dawson said, his voice dropping with the horror. Jared had been there the time Dawson had been driving in San Francisco and what had formerly been a two way street had turned into a one way street, and they had been very very lucky Dawson had not shit his pants. Even Jared admitted he peed a little, although Dawson thought he was just being nice.
"I know," Jared said wearily. "But I already know that part of Sacramento, Dawson. It's not that big a place."
Dawson sighed. "I am aware," he muttered. He threw the suits on the couch and pulled out one of the kitchen chairs so Jared could sit down amid the boxes stacked with their dishes. He sat down at the table and waited for Jared to situate his crutch, and then took his hand.
"Jared," he said softly, "baby. I am aware that it's hard for you to wait for your body to get better. Don't think I'm not."
Jared closed his mercury blue eyes, his black lashes fanning along his cheekbones. "It's taking--"
"Exactly as long as it should," Dawson said, feeling this grownup thing in his groin. Yeah, he wanted the old, mobile Jared back. He remembered what it had been like to watch Jared dance on a darkened stage, the melding of grace and body in music almost spiritual. But for once, he had patience. "I want you to think--how stupid would you feel if you tacked another two months on to your sentence by helping us shift a pile of clothes my Dad is coming by to move anyway."
"Dawson..." Jared scowled some more. "I just... I mean, I just wanted to help." He grimaced then. "That sounds stupid, like a little kid said it." He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I'm..."
"If you say useless, I'm stealing your crutch."
Admittedly, progress had been slow in the "Jared is a real boy" department--but the lines in the corners of his eyes and his mouth that indicated he was smiling--those were a lot more frequent.
"You'd do it, too."
"You bet your ass. Now my dad's pulling up as we speak, and Benji's coming to help load. So you sit here and do the computer thing, and we'll be out of this shithole in a couple more hours."
Jared regarded him levelly. "I'm going to miss this shithole."
Dawson looked around at the bare walls-- they'd rolled up the butcher paper with the show fliers on it and packed it in a special poster tube already. The burned spot on the carpet was still there, the dents on the walls from various moves, the one in the formica from when Dawson dropped the big glass casserole dish in March-- they'd left their marks on this place, quite literally, that was for sure.
Dawson swallowed, feeling nostalgic. "Yeah," he admitted. "I will too." But Dawson had perspective now. "But I didn't talk to you for nearly six weeks, and that was bad. Missing you then? That... that's going to leave a hole in my chest for a while. So this place? Yeah. It's got some memories. But you and me, we've got memories to make."
Jared nodded. "Amber bought a bead curtain for her room the other day." Amber's room didn't actually have a door on it. Dawson wasn't sure what they were going to do if Amber got herself a significant other in the next three years, but for now, the beaded curtain was the privacy she wanted.
"We may have to get a sound proof curtain for her," Dawson said seriously. He had not gotten any quieter during sex.
Jared laughed his quiet, constrained laugh and nodded. "I promise I'll be good," he said, taking Dawson's knuckles to his lips and kissing softly. "You've got things to do."
Dawson stood up gratefully. "Put your brainpower to figuring out what we're going to eat tonight," he said seriously. "We ate the last of the cereal with the last of the milk and the last of the fruit this morning, and if my dad brings In&Out like he promised, we're still gonna need sustenance."
Jared grinned. He was being handled, he knew it, but he apparently appreciated the effort. Good, because Dawson had some nervous energy to expel by moving all of their worldly possessions to a new place.
They didn't have much, actually, and a lot of Jared's stuff was still boxed from when Benji and Dawson had moved him when he'd been half out of his head in the hospital. A few hours later, Dawson's dad pulled the rental truck up in front of the new apartment, and Benji and Darian got to work helping them move and unpack.
Jared got to sit on a chair in the kitchen and answer Darian's questions about where to put stuff, and Dawson and Benji got to give each other shit about being neighbors.
"Yeah, Dawson, I've been getting lots of sleep since we moved away. Have you thought about how you're never going to have sex again since you've moved here?"
"Yeah, I"m going to invest in some earplugs and duct tape them to your head while you're sleeping. And I can tell when that starts because you scream 'Points ME!' and start snoring."
Beni started laughing so hard he almost dropped the couch, and Darian, his Disney Princess beloved with giant anime blue eyes and a sweet little heart-shaped face actually spit soda out all over her generously proportioned chest.
"Does he really?" Jared asked, apparently recovered from his need to help to the point of getting in the way. "Does he really yell 'Points me?'"
"Yes!" Darian crowed. "Or at least he would, if he'd thought of it. Last night he yelled 'Touchdown'!"
Dawson's father snorted as he walked in with a big box of books. "That beats 'For three!'"
"I thought you liked basketball," Jared chided gently.
"I do, but if you're saying 'for three', well, there's a lot of those scores in that game. That'll get exhausting quick!"
Dawson had a vision of the last time he and Jared had been in bed together, Jared behind him, thrusting that spot again and again and again until Dawson had made that sound people swore could be heard three counties away.
"We've played that game," he said seriously. "We both won."
Jared blushed and laughed and covered his eyes.
"Thank God I was gone for that one," Amber said seriously. "That... that would not have been fun for me."
"Well, it would be fun if it happened to you," Darian said practically. "We're just going to have to make sure that happens soon."
"For all you know I'm a-sex," Amber muttered, blushing.
"You're not a-sex," Dawson told her. "Not that you couldn't be, but you aren't."
"How would you know that?" she demanded, but smiling.
"Because I've seen what happens when someone you think is cute walks by. There's heavy breathing, flushing, and you make this little 'mnnnn' sound when you get within smelling distance."
"Cedar," Amber muttered. "Girl, boy, doesn't matter--cedar turns me on."
"Yeah," Benji said, patting her shoulder. "But I don't think there's such a thing as perfume-sexual, so you just need to find the right person who smells right."
For a moment there was silence as everybody looked around the new apartment and tried to remember if there was anything else they needed to bring in from Dawson's car, Amber's car, or the moving van.
It was new-- slightly bigger than the old apartment with big bay windows, hardwood floors, and a view of Sacramento that Dawson had to admit was sort of pretty. God, this place had a lot of trees, and the buildings weren't all uniform either--at least not in this part. It wasn't their big piece of property yet, and Jared was still carving out a place, but it would be a good home for them for the next couple of years.
He felt hope for a new adventure welling up in his chest--he hoped Jared did too.
At that moment, his stomach grumbled, and right after that, there was a knock at the door.
"Pizza?" The delivery girl was short and chesty, a lot like Amber, but her hair was bobbed around her face and her eyes were blue and guileless.
"Yeah," Jared said, struggling to his feet. "That's us."
"I"ll get it," Dawson told him, and he recognized enough about pride to take Jared's offered wallet.
"I'll help," Amber said, sounding surprisingly engaged.
After they took the pizza and the sodas from the delivery girl, and she and Amber had exchanged pleasantries and a wish to meet again, Amber hummed happily to herself.
"What?" Darian asked, setting paper plates out on the table, which was the one thing not covered with boxes.
"She smelled like cedar."
There was general laughter, and underneath it, Dawson nudged Jared on the shoulder. "Pizza," he said quietly. "Good move!"
Jared smiled around a bite of the thin-crust flat-bread he was eating. It wasn't pizza, no--but it was a good attempt to blend in.
"You told me to rustle up food," he said mildly.
"You know, there's a gym nearby," Dawson said, chewing on his actual pizza. "And a pool--"
"And a dance floor, and a way to get certified teaching aerobics--yeah, Dawson. I did my research too."
Dawson had the grace to blush. "This is a good place," he said, willing Jared to believe with him.
"No ducks yet," Jared said apologetically. "But, you know--"
"We can practice scaring them until that happens," Dawson said. This was serious. Dogs and ducks--they would get there, one step at a time.
"Practice is important," Jared said, smiling that quiet smile.
Dawson had never loved practicing anything as much as he loved practicing scaring imaginary ducks.