dammitcarl for wanting and ranalore for co-audiencing.
He falls over it when he gets home from work, a haphazard pile of shoes and shed jacket, socks inside-out like a shed skin a pace inside the door. A trial of destruction from doorway to kitchen, where Michael left the juice out and forgot to close the cabinets, left jeans sprawled across the stairs.
Little things that grate on the frayed edges of Brian's nerves, making him slam his briefcase down on the island in the kitchen, close the cabinet with a rattle of bone china, loosen his tie with quick jerks of his fingers on his way up the stairs. Jeans kicked aside in nothing like an afterthought.
Tiny mountain of wet towels on the bathroom floor where Michael threw them, seeping moisture into the paint of the wall. The toothpaste is in the sink, washcloth teetering over the side like an unsure suicide in progress.
The entire room smells like Michael. Aloe and whatever soap he uses from the convenience store down the block.
He does stuff like this, tiny pricks of irritation like a brief brush of sandpaper against his skin. Comics spread over the bed and limply across the floor that one day when Michael had come back from some comic convention with three new boxes. They're in the second closet now. Wrappers from Hostess Cupcakes and leftover manicotti congealing in bowls by the couch. Endless to-do lists for the comic store on scraps of paper littering the floor like a late autumn snow.
Coming back down the stairs, Brian thinks of Captain Astro, who used to hover over his computer until his nerve broke and relegated it to another part of the loft. Robots in various stages of appreciating value clutter the shelves and coffee table. The hideous old quilt that Debbie had bought Michael in fifth grade is draped haphazardly over the couch. One bare foot peeks out now, toes relaxed against the armrest. An abandoned plate is hanging off the edge of the coffee table, smeared with take-out, fork stuck in a puddle of soy sauce and rice on the floor.
Left to his own devices, Michael eats frighteningly large amounts of carbohydrates every night.
Adaptation is the natural response of humans to unusual situations, so he thinks he copes well. He usually remembers to look before stepping. Towels can be handled by the maid. There's nothing to do about the pasta but get Michael to bed before dinner or encourage take-out.
Brian's learned to adapt. He does that a lot these days.
Michael watches anime on Sunday nights with popcorn and domestic beer. He always does his laundry on Wednesdays, before Angel. He buys horrible ties when Brian lets him go shopping unattended. Leaves fingerprints on his computer screen and always, always forgets to make the bed.
Adaptation, the nature of the animal, the nature of mankind. Finding equilibrium in other things.
Michael plays racquetball with him on Tuesdays.
He shops with him on Thursdays.
He leaves Brian to trick on Saturdays.
Long, hot, meaningless sex against walls and in alleys, in anonymous apartments and bathroom stalls, smelling of sweat and come and accumulated garbage, excitement sharp and vivid like licking copper. But it's Michael's face he sees after, mouth curved up in a quirked grin, delicate as the shell of an egg, hiding the hurt beneath. Sundays are late breakfasts and hours in bed. Just silence and warmth, wrapped around Michael, eyes closed, mouthing reassurance in kisses against salty skin, because the one promise Michael wants is the one Brian can't ever give. Michael doesn't even ask.
Equilibrium. It's a small price to pay.
Small for the best friend that slouches on his couch and knows his silences like he knows his body. The man who defends him from everything, protects him from anything, even himself.
The one that curls around him in sleep, familiar hands on his skin that he sometimes wonders how he slept without.
The one who takes him home when he's high and holds his hair when he throws up. Dances with him for hours, surrounded by bodies that don't seem to exist. Wrapped close and warm and more real than anything that Brian's ever had.
This compact body that's sprawled over his couch, eyes closed. Dark lashes against light skin. Hands loose fists on his chest, like he's holding something close that he can't give up.
"Mikey." It's soft and careful, because Michael wakes harder than Brian does. A little sigh from the couch and Michael rolls over, one hand reaching out to grope at air, and Brian watches as Michael edges forward, knowing what's coming, letting himself smile as Michael rolls onto the floor, eyes opened wide and startled as a deer.
"Brian--" Hand running through his hair absently, eyes darting until they settle on him.
"Rise and shine." Piles of comics on the floor, beside the remote control. Brian's late tonight, and Michael knows how to entertain himself.
There's amusement when Michael crawls back onto the couch with a huff, shifting his feet enough for Brian to sit. He does, grabbing an unopened box of sesame chicken along the way.
Michael, who clambers to his knees to collapse beside him, looking up with dark, mild eyes and a grin Brian's never learned how to resist. "Share?"
They trade bits of chicken and channel surf while Michael tells him about the comic shop and seeing Ben on the street. How the lemon curried pork had been overcooked at the little place he goes to lunch. The latest issue of Rage. Eyes lit up from within.
Quiet and familiar and patient warmth curling around them like the blanket Michael throws over them
Brian sinks deeper into warm leather and leans his head against Michael's.
"Brian?" Michael's concern rouses him, and he lifts his head, looking down into honest worry. Leans closer to kiss, slow and sweet, enjoying the instant response, the way Michael shapes himself against him, the way familiarity and peace taste on Michael's skin.
This is why Brian chose him. He thinks, eyes closing as Michael's palm slides over his cock beneath the wool pants, that he was right.