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It takes Taron a week to get out of LA and back to London: five meetings, three interviews, two voice sessions and two offers he has to turn down. He spends exactly four hours in his own house before he repacks his bag and drives the ten minutes to Richard’s place. 

 “Oh by the way,” Richard says out of the blue after they’ve properly reunited and rolled Taron’s bag into the bedroom. “I got your shirt cleaned, so ye can take it back when yer ready to pack up.”

 Taron takes his shaving kit out of his luggage and tosses it into Richard’s bathroom. “You washed it for me? Thank you...” He hesitates and chews on his lip, wondering why that unsettles him.

 “I mean...someone washed it, aye. It’s clean now, when ye want it, was my point,” Richard says, eyeing Taron curiously. 

 Taron feels bristly all of a sudden, and against his better judgment, decides to pick at that feeling a little.

 “You sent out a shirt...with Elton John lyrics printed on it...absolutely doused in both our jizz?” Taron wrinkles his nose in distaste at the word he’s chosen and tries to think of a better one, at the same time imagining the scandal that would’ve caused in the olden days of UK tabloids, the scandal it could still cause now if their...stuff...somehow fell into the wrong hands. Taron isn’t even sure what that means. Or would entail. Or could be done with it. He looks at Richard fretfully. 

 Richard tries to laugh it off but looks a little prickly himself, shakes his head. “Ye know I don’t do my own wash. One of the rich asshole perks I don’t deny myself the pleasure of,” he defends himself, twirling his favorite rich asshole gold vape pen in his hand and sauntering out of the room.

 Taron watches him, furrowing his brow and trying to figure out what his mood and his stomach are doing. “You don’t deny yourself much, my love,” Taron says under his breath, rather pointedly, and continues unzipping his suitcase, looking at the clothes he’s brought with him. 

 He looks at his stacks of expensive designer jeans and shitty t-shirts, his neatly folded boxer briefs he washes and dries himself, most of the time. He looks at Richard’s dressers, his sleek, shiny furniture full of sleek, shiny things.

 He only has a few days with Richard, and twelve hours or so of most of those days is occupied with Richard’s top secret work on the Eternals set, which Taron can’t even visit, and then he’s going home to Aber for as long as he can stand to be away. 

 He only has these few days, and he’s...picking a fight? They don’t fight. Only couples fi….ohhh

 Taron feels dense. He closes his eyes. Oh. 

“Wha, my love?” Richard asks, guileless, slipping back around the corner and into the bedroom, his bare feet soft on pristine hardwood.

 Taron leaves his suitcase where it is, unzipped next to his side of the bed. But I have a side of the bed, he thinks quickly, then puts that thought away, forcing a smile through his inexplicable nerves to snap himself out of it. “Nothing. What’s for dinner?”

 Dinner is delivery Nando’s and a delicious Spanish red, an even more delicious fuck that makes Taron forget what he was anxious about. 

 Richard’s bed somehow always feels more opulent and luxurious than his own, even though he’s pretty sure they ordered the same mattress from the same instagram ad. He rolls his head on Richard’s smooth sheets, watches him wipe the mess from between their thighs with a soft hand towel. Richard always rolls him over and kisses him, then, sweetly licking into his mouth and gazing down at him, indulgently, carefully, like he doesn’t want to disturb this little bubble. Eventually there’s movement, momentum, Richard pushing up on his elbows, nudging Taron up and rousing him right off the edge of the bed, shuffling them both into the shower.

 Taron leans against Richard’s chest under the spray, feels Richard’s slippery hands glide over his ribs, his hips, his now-soft and thoroughly satiated dick. Richard always cleans him off with the utmost care, always kisses his neck under the hot water, always asks if he can wash his hair for him. He’s literally just fucked Taron senseless after putting his tongue in his ass but he asks if he can wash his hair, every time.

 Taron likes that, he realizes, feeling slow and dense again as Richard sinks his strong fingers into Taron’s scalp, massaging in his fancy rosemary mint shampoo.

 “Hey,” Richard says with his fingers carefully cupped at the base of Taron’s skull, supporting the weight of his head on his neck as he leans him under the shower stream to rinse him.

 “Hmmm?” Taron asks, comes back to himself, to the both of them, wraps his arms around Richard and ducks his head against his shoulder.

 “Ok, love? Are ye gettin’ lost in that pretty head o’ yours again?” Richard asks, a note of concern in his voice as the shampoo rinses clean from Taron’s hair and slides down both their bodies. Taron kisses where his mouth has landed, Richard’s shoulder, gnaws there gently with his teeth.

 “Fine. Just overtired, and really out of it. Take me to bed?” Taron asks, turning his head to lay on Richard’s chest, feeling his heartbeat against his cheek through his skin. Richard is right. Richard is always right. But Taron is truly too tired to deal with his own head right now.

 Richard’s arms come up around him and wrap behind his back, holding him close. “O’ course love. C’mon, yer all clean. I’ll get you a robe.”

 Richard gets his robe off the hook and wraps it around Taron, pulls him all the way into a hug with it as he drapes it around him, like he always does.

*

Taron likes knowing all Richard’s moves, he thinks to himself in the dark. He likes knowing Richard will take up the whole bed once he falls asleep and his muscles relax. Taron will sleep on his side and wake up every once in a while, look at Richard in the dark as he snores softly and the faint lights on his aromatherapy diffuser slide endlessly from hue to hue. 

 He likes his shirt, clean and folded in Richard’s drawer. His eyes get heavy again, watching Richard sleep.

*

“I think,” Taron says on his last morning in London, crunching on a piece of turkey bacon. Richard looks at him expectantly, swallows his orange juice and wipes his mouth nervously. “Fuck,” Taron says, the only response he can come up with to being looked at that way on the morning he has to leave, when he loves Richard this fucking much.

 “Ok what’s bothering you? Come on and have it out, you’ve had me on pins and needles for days and Ah - ”

 “I’m just so bloody fucking in love with you, Dickie. And I’m gonna leave that shirt here,” Taron says, getting up from the table in, he does recognize it, a bit of a huff, and going to finish stuffing the few things he’s worn around the house since he got here back into his suitcase.

 “Wha...what about the shirt?” Richard asks, following him into the bedroom and sounding as unnerved as Taron feels. 

 “I like knowing it’s here,” Taron explains, miserably coiling up his charging cords. “Having something of mine here...when I’m not.”

 “Ok…” Richard begins slowly, lets out a deep breath and sits on the end of the bed watching Taron, chewing on his own lip. “Do you...want tae leave some other things here as well?”

 Taron looks up from his packing. He’s pouting and he hates it, knows it’s not a good look but he can’t help himself right now. “Yeah. Yeah that’d be...good.”

 “Like...a toothbrush?” Richard suggests tentatively and Taron catches just the slightest gleam of mockery in the nervous gleam in his eye.

 “Don’t you dare make fun of me Madden, not today,” Taron says, a bittersweet laugh rumbling out of him that he realizes is at least somewhat, or even mostly, aimed at himself.

 “Well come on, love, we’re not actually this ineloquent to dance ‘round about a fuckin’ toothbrush. I love you, you fuckin’ idiot. If ye asked to move in with me today I’d give ye my key. Been in love with you for months, T. Leave your shirt here, leave your whole fuckin’ wardrobe here,” Richard declares, then lunges for his vape pen as the weight of what’s just come out of his mouth settles in the room.

 “Did you…just say I should move in with you?” Taron asks gingerly, his jaw slack and eyes wide.

 Richard nods frantically, mouths at the end of his vape.

 “Well then why didn’t we ever talk about this?” Taron asks, standing and shoving his open suitcase away with his foot overdramatically and flinging his arms up, shaking out the nerves if he can because they’re going for it now.

 “Because we’re both anxious, self-absorbed pricks?” Richard suggests, cocking an eyebrow.

 “I’m not self-absorbed,” Taron rounds back, taking slight offense to that bit. If anything he’s too empathetic to the many people in his circles, inner and outer. 

 “Ok,” Richard says, diplomatically, letting that slide. Taron makes a mental note to apologize for that later. “Well, maybe we were havin’ a good time and knew we loved each other plenty and no one wanted to rock the boat. So tae speak,” Richard counters, sucks down a couple of hits of purified, vanilla flavored nicotine. 

 Taron is almost wound up enough to want to smoke too, wants to pluck that stupid vape pen out of Richard’s hand. He touches his fingertips to his forehead instead, gently rubs at his temples.

 “Are you saying...we were fine the way we were? Should I not have said something?” Taron asks, still indulging himself in throwing a fit about all of this for absolutely no reason, it seems...maybe he is self-absorbed. 

 Richard rolls his eyes and comes closer, finally tosses the vape aside and puts his hands squarely on Taron’s chest. “Taron. Fucking. Egerton. You tol’ me ye loved me approximately twenty-four hours after ye met me.”

 Taron hangs his head, tries to duck into Richard’s chest. “Meant it, too,” he murmurs. Richard’s fingers come to rest under his chin, tilt his face up to look him in the eye.

 “I know you did. There has never, in the history of us, been a single day...not a minute, that Ah’ve had to wonder whether or not I am loved, by you.” 

 Richard takes a sharp breath to go on but Taron doesn’t know if he can handle much more of that, leans in to kiss him instead, thoroughly, deeply, like a man in love should, Richard’s hands on his hips steadying him more than any cigarette would have, Richard’s words buzzing along his nerve endings, flickering little sparks.

 “I’m sorry,” Taron says, drawing back for a breath, softly ow-ing as Richard’s teeth don’t quite let go of his lip. 

 “Don’ be sorry, love. We’re both a mess,” Richard says, soothing and kissing over the spot, breathing against his lips. Taron hums, feeling the comfort in that, that neither of them know what to do but they’ve arrived here, now.

 “No, I am sorry. I panicked. Dunno why. Just suddenly all had to...come out, I guess,” Taron murmurs, softly opens his mouth for more and Richard groans, slides his tongue along Taron’s teeth. Taron whines at the feel of Richard taking his mouth, at the lift of Richard’s strong arms carrying his ass to the bed and depositing him unceremoniously on it. 

 Richard lays him out and climbs on top of him, looks him seriously in the eye. “Well I panicked too. Thought ye were breakin’ up with me.” Richard says softly and Taron shakes his head, no no no, emphatically. “I know. I get it now. But we’re in uncharted waters here, love. I dunno what the fuck Ah’m doin’. If you need more from me, you’re gonna have tae tell me. Ye want to be like, exclusive, official, ye want tae come out, whatever it is -”

 “I have no fucking idea about any of that -” Taron says quite openly, as earnest as he can be with Richard’s mouth on his jaw and the weight of Richard’s body holding him down.

 “I don’ either I just said ever’thing I could think of that wasn’t you breakin’ up with me. If you need somethin’ I’m no’ doin’ right, ye have to talk to me. An’ I promise to do the same for you. I love ye so fuckin’ much, T.” Richard says, slight tremor catching his voice in his throat as he stretches his arms overhead to hold Taron’s hands down, pin him into the bed just how he likes. 

 “Love you. Love you so, so…I know I must have freaked you out. I’m freaked out too,” Taron swallows down the sensation of his eyes filling with tears, the deep, deep well of feelings he carries just barely below the surface starting to spill over. “So are we...fuck, help me here.”

 “Whatever we are, we’ve been already for a long time. Shoulda said somethin’...sooner,” Richard says, leaning back just enough to wipe a tear from Taron’s cheekbone with his thumb. “Talk to me some more. You want to put a name to it, is tha’ it?” he asks with a soft, sad smirk curling one side of his mouth. 

 Taron thinks a moment, raises up to kiss Richard’s tear-damp thumb. “Kind of. It’s how my brain works. I’m just not sure what…are we dating?” he asks, looking up, bright and giddy and suddenly very apologetic for being so petulant for the past...week, whatever. 

 Richard smiles and clears his throat. “We kinda shot right past that, love. We’re more like...Ah dunno. Ah hate to say partners, we sound like old queens in caftans on a cruise ship -”

 “Hmmm, does sound good though. And we literally are old caftan queens. The ones we wore in Nice were really smashing,” Taron says, all fondness when he thinks of France, of the early days, of him and Richard being anywhere so far away and beautiful it felt like a dream.

 They’d slept together during filming, pure idiocy and lusty desperation for each other, then stopped when it seemed prudent to let clearer heads prevail and finish the damned film. Got blind drunk and did it again, then absolutely stopped once more. 

 Then they wrapped and Taron realized he’d got it all wrong, and blew up his life. Shaved his head and wondered what the fuck he was going to do now, when Richard turned up in his texts, similarly single, similarly in shambles. 

 They promptly started again, attended some stupid brand party where they were both miserable until they realized they were famous and could do fuck all if they wanted, left in a loaner Landrover and never looked back. 

 “Partners get invited to Christmas at Elton’s,” Richard points out, a solid argument that clicks something in Taron’s brain. Has he really been this dense?

 “Oh. God. That conniving old fruit. He...that was ages ago. He thought we were already -” 

 “Or wanted us to be,” Richard muses, weaving his fingertips in between Taron’s. 

 Taron stares at their fingers, rubs the ridges of his thumb against the back of Richard’s hand. 

 “We did have a nice snog under the Christmas tree,” Richard reminds him gently with a kiss along his jaw.

 “God, I was so drunk,” Taron says, cringing a bit at blurry holiday memories, at Elton’s knowing sigh, at David rubbing his back at the breakfast table while the boys ran around screaming for all their aunties’ and uncles’ attention. He doesn’t feel the need to drink that much to relax around Elton and David anymore, thank god. 

 “You were a right mess. We both kinda were. But it was a stressful time and everyone understood,” Richard soothes him, kisses a soft patch of hair at the top of his clavicle. 

 Taron sighs and runs his hand through Richard’s messy hair. “Well...so what else do we have to do?” Taron says, tilting his head on the pillow and gazing up at Richard. He’s happy, but suspicious - it can’t be this easy. 

 Richard nuzzles into the notch of Taron’s throat, lowers his mouth to press over his sternum. “Dunno. Tell people?” he offers, but Taron can hear the hesitance in his voice. 

 Taron shrugs that off, for now. “I think most people I would want to know already know. Or have their suspicions.”

 “Yer Mum?” Richard suggests. 

 “Oh, she knows way too much,” Taron laughs and curls in on himself. Their mother-son oversharing is legendary, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Richard looks at him warily, blushing as it seems to dawn on him what Taron might mean by that. “Yeah, you should blush, sorry,” Taron says with an apologetic kiss.

 “Oi, great, cannae wait to think about tha’ next time Ah’m talkin’ to her. Ok...how ‘bout Jack?” Richard asks, shaking his head and laughing too.

 Taron snorts at that one. “Oh god, that poor, lovely man. We owe him a gift hamper. Loads of wine. He’s had to listen to me moan about you for a year now. He has surprisingly little sympathy for my plight, carrying on as I am with the most wanted man in Britain.”

 “Is that what we’re doing, ‘carrying on?’ God, you are an old queen,” Richard grins against his mouth, toothy kisses and soft sighs turning more heated as Taron lifts his thighs around Richard’s hips and draws him closer.

 “I love you, Dickie. So fucking much,” Taron groans, grinding up into him for more, more of this, more of them, together. 

 “Love you so much, sweetheart,” Richard drawls, pulling gently at their clothes, getting his hands on Taron’s skin. Taron strokes down Richard’s back, helps push his pants down off his hips and lifts his own so Richard can do the same.

 “Meant it since the very first time I said it,” Taron sighs as Richard slides against him, gets his fingers wrapped tight around them both.

 Richard exhales softly through his nose, hot breath at Taron’s neck. “Never doubted it. Never.”

*

“Missed my train,” Taron says, throwing his hand over his face against the late morning sun. He squints one eye and cracks the other one open to watch Richard, his tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth. He’s wiping a soft towel over Taron’s stomach and legs, looking quite smug.

 “You can tell yer Mum why you’re not gettin’ there today,” Richard teases him, ducks as Taron throws a pillow at him.

 “Tell her I stopped being an idiot and told you how I felt, yeah, like she’s been telling me for months? She’ll never let me live it down,” he says, settles back into the pillows as Richard stretches out alongside him, kisses his jaw, the corner of his lips, gazes down at him, still indulgently, but less afraid of shattering this, this newly named thing that isn’t really new, or named, at all.

 “There’s trains tomorrow,” Richard says, lays out half beside and half on top of him, stroking a hand over Taron’s chest. “Are ye worried?”

 Taron smiles over the top of Richard’s head, feels his eyes bat softly closed. “About the train?” He can barely contain the laughter in his throat, trained, serious actor that he is.

 Richard pinches him between the ribs. “No, no’ the train. Arsehole.”

 Taron shifts underneath him, tries to stretch one hip where it’s starting to cramp. “Ohhh, about us, you mean.”

 “Mmmm, aye,” Richard hums, rests his head in Taron’s armpit. 

 Taron closes his eyes again, enjoys the simple weight of their bodies, naked on the bed. “Bigger picture of life? Yes, still, constantly. Worried about this?” Taron pauses, looks down the length of them, arms and legs in a messy pile. “If we make this part of the bigger picture...do we risk screwing it up?”

 Richard sighs heavily, like he’s considering that. “Maybe...but no, Ah don’t think so. We’ll protect it. We’ll figure it out, ‘cause it’s only about us, Ah don’t care about anyone else.”

 “I don’t think I can come out. Not yet,” Taron admits, abruptly, blurts it out before he can change his mind.

 Richard digs his fingers into Taron’s arms, tight, protective. “Ahh, no, tha’s fine by me. I cannae either. Ah think my coming out is slated for Fall 2020, gotta check the spreadsheet.” He shakes his head and buries his face in Taron’s side, nuzzles again at his ribs which vibrate with Taron’s quiet, disbelieving laugh.

 “God our life is…” he tries and can’t even find a word.

 “S’ridiculous, innit,” Richard agrees, touches Taron lightly, traces his fingers up and down his arms.

 Taron sighs. “Yeah but it’s what we got. And we’ve got good people, all around us. It’ll be alright. We just have to figure it out.”

 “Aye,” Richard says softly, his eyelashes fluttering against Taron’s chest. “Let’s give it a go.”