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Is it wrong that I still don't know my heart?

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We fight, we get high, holding on to love
We came down 'cause there was nothing holding us

 

Early November 2018

“Are we done, Richard?”

“I think we are, Taron.”

“Very well. Have a nice life, then.”

Richard walks out, and Taron slams the door behind him.

Must have let in a draft, because he feels fucking cold. A fire is roaring in his soul, and yet he’s freezing.

He’s high as a motherfucking kite, and his head is spinning.

He drags his heavy legs from the hallway to the living room, discarding his socks, top, trousers, underwear in his wake.

By the time he gets to the bathroom and he takes a look at his face in the mirror, he can see it. His eyes are bloodshot—nothing new, the weed was good, and it was strong. Except, none of the good side effects are showing up, at the moment. Just an angry monster, eating away at his insides.

This couldn’t have gone any worse if they’d tried.

He was supposed to smoke, lay back, eat bucketfuls of fried chicken, watch crap action movies, feel light and bubbly.

He was supposed to enjoy an evening with Richard, just the two of them, away from the constant interruptions and the fear of getting caught.

He was supposed to tell Richard he loved him, that he just broke up with Emily to be with him, try and make it work.

None of those things happened.

***

When Richard showed up at his door, some forty-five minutes ago, Taron could immediately feel something was wrong. He asked him, but Richard just brushed it off. He was tired, he said.

They sat on the couch, lighting a spliff and talking about nothing for twenty minutes or so—until Richard finally seemed to find his balls again, and told him.

He’s moving to LA, he said. Makes sense, he said. That’s where he needs to be, he said.

Bullshit, Taron thought. “Bullshit,” he said, out loud.

“I beg your pardon?”

“You don’t need to be in LA to be someone. The industry can’t get enough of you. The Beeb are gagging on your dick, for Christ’s sake. You’re practically royalty. Just—don’t go.” Not a question, more like… a desperate request. Forgot to say please, but it was implied. Or at least, Taron thought it was.

It wasn’t a question for Richard, either—but not in the way Taron thought. Turns out he’s leaving the day after tomorrow, already has a place to stay and everything. It’s not a conversation they’re having, not something he’s been considering. He’s informing Taron that his decision has been made already, and it’s final. He’s getting the fuck out of London, and everyone else—Taron—be damned.

“You realise you’re just running away, right?”

“Running away from what, exactly? Bad weather and rude people in the Tube? I think I’ll survive, thank you very much.”

Arsehole.

“Really, Richard? Really?”

“What?”

“Oh, forget it.”

“No, please. You clearly have something to say, so by all means. I’m all ears.”

Patronising. Wow.

“It’s me you’re running away from, Richard.”

Hands in his hair, spinning around on the spot, rubbing his face. Shaking his head.

“I can’t do this, Taron. Not now.”

“’Course you can’t. Not worth it, am I?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Oh, but you did. You said it loud and clear. Your career is clearly more important than… whatever this is.”

Richard snorted. The fucking nerve of him.

“This? Kissing in dark corners and fucking in trailers? Tending on you when you’re down, and you going back to her after all is said and done? No, Taron. This is not how I want to live.”

“There’s no her anymore, Richard. I told her. I told her everything. Broke her heart, so I could be with you.”

Richard looked startled, then. Like he was just punched in the gut.

And then Taron saw it. The glint of realisation in his eyes. Richard knew he was in too deep to crawl his way back up.

“I don’t… I… It’s too late now, Taron. I’m going. I’m leaving on Friday.”

“Coward.”

“What did you just say to me?”

“You heard me.”

“You don’t get to do this. You don’t get to play with me for months, and then when I finally decide to leave it be, you try to pull me back. At the last bloody minute. It’s not fair.”

Taron sniggered, poisonous. Words failed him. He wanted to not see his face anymore. So he told him.

“Get out, Richard. Please, get the fuck out. And I mean literally. You know where the door is.”

***

He just inspects himself in the mirror, and he doesn’t recognise the man looking back at him. He’s red all over. Pulsating with anger.

He gets into the shower, closing the rest of the world outside.

He crumples to the floor.

He cries.


Are you all dressed up but with nowhere to go?
Are your tears falling down when the lights are low?
Another Friday night tryna put on a show
Do you hate the weekend 'cause nobody's calling?
I've still got so much love hidden beneath this skin

 

January 6th, 2019

Richard is in a black tie and a full velvet suit, and he’s dazzling on the red carpet. He takes pictures, smiles at everyone. He’s a fucking star.

Taron watches him from afar. He presents an award, and he looks for him in the audience. He sees him, fleetingly. Barbed wire around his heart, is what it feels like.

Then Richard goes out there and wins a fucking Globe, for fuck’s sake. And Taron is allowed to stare, then. And to beam at him. He doesn’t know whether Richard can see him, but it feels wrong not to.

They might not have seen each other in months. He might be heartbroken. Richard might be the one that got away. But that certainly won’t stop Taron from being damn proud.

Sitting in his chair, looking up at the man of his dreams up on stage getting an extremely well-deserved accolade, Taron realises something—and his eyes cloud with tears.

He still loves him. Of course he does. How could he not? Richard is the answer to all his prayers. Always has been.

Jack notices him welling up. Squeezes his arm, lovingly. “You alright, T?”

“Grand, Sinclair. Never been better.”

 

They’re at the afterparty, and he’s tipsy on the three glasses of Moët et Chandon he just had. He holds a new one in his hand, and shamelessly flirts with Luke Evans in a fucking white tux.

And then it all comes crashing down.

“What’s going on ‘ere, then?”

Richard is there, grinning, holding his new statuette. It’s painful to look at his face, so Taron focuses on the award for a split-second. Sees the fresh engraving on the base of it, spelling the name he’s tried so hard to put out of his mind for the past two months. A truly arduous endeavour, it seems.

Luke is embracing Richard, congratulations, mate, and kissing both his cheeks.

Taron hears himself gulp when it’s his turn. Richard’s arms around him are not polite or tentative, as he’d expected. They’re tight, and they’re fierce. The smell of him obliterates Taron’s every synapse.

“Fucking missed you,” Richard whispers, brazen, nonchalant, killer.

“Fucking missed you too,” he replies, because it’s true.

They take a selfie, because that’s what people do at these things. Taron is between Richard and Luke, and he’s perfectly aware he’s clinging to Luke more than he should, trying to limit the square surface of him that touches Richard to a bare minimum, burrowing himself in Luke’s strong arms, against his firm body—but he doesn’t much care. Luke doesn’t seem to mind, either. And Taron needs to smother the inevitable attraction that is pulling him towards Richard, choke it to death.

Jack joins them for a second selfie. It’s quick, and it’s painful, but Taron puts on his best front—and they all look like a million bucks.

Richard is scooped up by his publicist, and Taron barely gets the chance to say goodnight.

Jack wants to talk. Taron doesn’t.

Luke is back with more champagne and, it turns out, the key card for his hotel room. Says he’s leaving, and that Taron is welcome to join if he manages to avoid the paps.

Taron says it won’t be a problem, and it isn’t.

All night long, Luke fucks his pain away. Pins him to the mattress, tells him how pretty he is, and Taron almost believes him.

“We need to do it again, sometimes,” Luke tells him, the next morning.

“Don’t you have a boyfriend?”

“Thought you did too?”

Well, that’s rude. How could he… Ah, well, nevermind.

“That obvious?”

“Darling, please. It was written all over your face, last night.”

“Yeah, well… Complicated, innit? He left me. Before we could be anything, really.”

“Do you want him back?”

“So fucking bad.”

“Then go get him. You’re young, you’re handsome, you’re in love. Nothing in the world can stop you, Taron.”

 

So Taron calls a cab and just shows up, uninvited. Like it’s a fucking rom-com.

But it’s not, of course. It’s reality. And reality materialises in the form of Richard walking past the door of his cab just as he’s about to get out—he’s hand in hand with a young, attractive boy, they’re walking a small dog, and he’s grinning like a madman. A smitten madman.

Taron’s heart sinks.

Yeah, alright. Message received.

“Mate, get us out of here, please?”

“Wrong address, pal?”

“Think it might be, yeah. Sorry.”

“Where to, then?”

“LAX.”

“Okey-doke.”

 

We wrote and we wrote
'Til there were no more words
We laughed and we cried
Until we saw our worst
Is it wrong that I still wonder where you are?
Is it wrong that I still don't know my heart?

Still January 2019

Calling Emily up as soon as he landed in Heathrow, a couple of days ago, was the rashest and strangest idea he’s ever had.

She picked up and they talked and talked, all the way into the night. They still talked the day after, over coffee. And again the following night, over dinner—the Italian place, her favourite.

Great wine. Weird sex.

Then it’s decided—they’re trying again. It’s familiar, and it’s safe. It’s what he needs. Stability. A good front. The sparkling image of happiness. He’s not in love anymore, but he could be, right?

Then Richard starts texting him. He sends dumb memes, at first. Then, he asks how Taron is. And Taron tells him. More or less, that is. Doesn’t dare being honest—God forbid, he knows how that went the last time round.

They don’t talk about their relationships. They keep up a sort of polite, friendly banter, and Taron is absolutely fine with it.

Until a few weeks later, when January turns into February and Richard calls him, late one night, blind drunk.

“I’m an idiot, Taron.”

“I thought we’d established that ages ago, Richard. No news there.”

“Oh, fuck off,” he slurs. Taron hears a thud on the end of the line.

“Where are you, Richard?”

“Jeremy’s. Party. Mr Porter.” He sounds like a telegram.

“Shame, my invitation seems to have gotten lost in the mail,” Taron sniggers. Not sure what’s happening, but it’s fun.

Until Richard speaks again, and it isn’t anymore.

“Taron, I love you.”

Richard’s voice is a machine gun, and his words are like four sharp bullets, piercing Taron’s heart and leaving him to bleed out.

“Y-you’re drunk, Richard.”

“I am, but I mean it. I love you.”

“You can’t,” Taron replies. Sad. Furious. His voice is shaking, and he feels the familiar pang of tears surging. “You don’t.”

“I…”

Taron doesn’t want to hear any more of that. He taps on his phone to end the call, then throws it against a wall. The sound of the glass shattering as it hits a shelf perfectly mirrors how he feels, right now.

How poetic.

 

Last night I lay awake

Stuck on the things we said

 

February 10th, 2019

Taron doesn’t sleep for several nights, until there’s another ceremony.

Jamie knows, because of course he does.

They’ve checked on each other for months, since the movie wrapped. Kate is pregnant, and would Taron like to be godfather? Would he like to spoil the hell out of a new-born angel girl, does he mean? What a dumb fucking question.

Jamie’s life is grand, at the moment. Taron’s is not, but Jamie is there for him. Advice, support, texts, long conversations. A pint when he’s in town. Dinner and a movie. Cuddles.

Jamie loves Taron every bit as much as Taron loves him. Taron is grateful for his friendship. Jamie is Taron’s 3 A.M. call, at the moment. And Taron suspects he’ll always be.

Jamie’s visibly worried, and he’s also furious at Richard. The number of times he’s offered to intercede, to help work things out—but Taron is stubborn as a mule, and he’s still so goddamn angry himself, he always tells Jamie to drop it. Doesn’t feel like a good idea.

Be that as it may, Jamie is civil and even enthusiastic around Richard when Gavin talks them into a full photoshoot on the night of the BAFTAs.

They pose, they smile, they laugh together. They look so good, it’s almost ridiculous. Gavin shows them the fresh shots, and it honestly looks like they’re all off to church to get married.

The reality couldn’t be further from what the pictures lead to believe.

The way Jamie and Richard look at each other makes Taron’s insides stir. Jamie’s gaze like a flamethrower, silently scolding him. Richard doing his best impression of a lost puppy, striking blue eyes saying sorry over and over and over.

When they’re done, Jamie kisses both Taron and Richard on the cheeks and tells them to behave—entirely meaning it—then scuttles back to Kate, who looks at him like he hung the moon. And maybe he has, actually.

Richard doesn’t follow Jamie’s advice.

“Can we talk?” he asks, as soon as Jamie turns the corner. Puts a hand on Taron’s forearm, sheepishly.

“About what, Richard?” Taron snaps, retracting his arm and breaking contact with Richard’s way too warm skin. He’s wearing several layers, and he still felt it.

“You know, Taron. You know what I want to talk about.”

Taron sighs. He’s backed against a wall, figuratively and literally. He needs to go back to Emily. But he can’t escape—not this time.

“You didn’t mean it. You couldn’t have. I saw you. You didn’t look like you were thinking of me at all.”

“Yes, I know, I saw you too. I’m sorry I was hurried away. I should have just told them to fuck off.”

“I don’t mean at the party,” Taron breathes, furious. “I mean… I saw you, Richard. With him. I came outside of your house, I wanted to talk. And then I didn’t anymore, so I left.”

“Oh.” Richard pauses, shocked. Blushes crimson. Opens his mouth, then closes it again. “Why didn’t you say anything? Why didn’t you call?” he blurts.

“He’s pretty, Richard. Congratulations. You look happy together,” he says, bitterly, holding an arm out to move Richard out of the way.

“Taron, wait!” Richard calls out. But Taron speeds up.

Emily is waiting at the end of the corridor, looking stunning in her long, black dress.

He’s happy, he’s happy, he’s happy with her.

If he thinks it hard enough, he might even end up believing it.


I look around as my heart is collapsing
'Cause you’re the only one I need


May 6th, 2019

They see each other at the Met Gala.

Taron watches him walk up the steps, stopping to smoulder at the cameras. His hair, the outfit, the fucking kilt pin—it all hits him in the guts.

When they actually talk, Richard’s flare stuns him even more, and it’s painful.

He’s going to be a goddamned Marvel superhero, he tells him—and that most definitely deserves an excited selfie.

They look happy in it. A tad too happy.

Maybe he won’t post it.

 

When the lights come up and there’s no shadows dancing

Then it’s the end of the month, way too quickly, and it’s time to pack for Cannes.

They go out the first night, just a small bunch of them—Dex, Giles, Bryce, Elton and David.

Richard.

Something happens, then. Something he can’t quite put his finger on.

Maybe it’s the premiere buzz, he tells himself.                                            

Maybe it’s that Jamie is not there to lift him up, and he desperately needs a strong pillar, or else he might collapse into a heap of nerves.

Or maybe it’s just that he’s tired of kidding himself that he’s okay with the situation being the way it is.

His mam and stepdad and all the boys are coming in a few days, but they don’t know—so they can’t help.

And Emily, who’s due on the first flight to Nice tomorrow morning, thinks that everything’s fine. Of course she does—the mask Taron has on is pure titanium, and it’s impenetrable, and it’s more effective than it ever was. He can’t put her or himself through that conversation, not right now—not when the labour of eighteen months of blood, sweat and tears is about to be shown to the world for the first time.

So—unconsciously, involuntarily, recklessly—that’s when Taron lets Richard in once again.

He starts by letting Richard kiss his forehead when he walks him to his hotel room door.

He then allows Richard to touch him during the photocall. Richard fusses. Tells him he’s beautiful. Taron blushes, still keeps some kind of distance, tries to—but the magnetism is working independently from his own will, and he’s in Richard’s arms more than he would like to.

Doesn’t even have the strength to complain.

After they have their pictures taken, Elton hooks an arm into his and he pulls him aside. He tells him that Richard looks genuine. That Taron should give him a chance.

Taron wants to tell Elton to fuck off, but he can’t—for two simple reasons. One, it’s Elton John giving him advice, and he would never dare. Two, he dear God hopes the man’s right. So, he says yes, sir, and Elton kisses his cheek and tells him he’s a good boy.

He wears Tom Ford for the red carpet, and he thinks he looks good.

In the meantime, Richard is in Armani, and he looks like he’s just out of Casino Royale.

Gavin is there again, snapping away, and Taron bets they both look like fifties movie stars. It’s kind of exhilarating, really.

Then it’s time for the actual premiere, and Taron is a bunch of nerves from the moment his feet touch the red carpet. He’s so tense that he ends up focusing on the smallest details to avoid looking at the big picture.

So he kneels, does Elton’s laces, enjoys the look of adoration in his and David’s eyes.

And then he falls into Richard’s arms once again.

“You can do this, T. This is your moment. Just breathe. I’m here for you, love.”

Love.

Taron blacks out for a while, and then it’s time to sit down. Outrageously enough, he’s not sitting next to Elton. He’s between Bernie and Dexter, and Richard is only another seat away, but he still thinks it’s too far.

He knows he’s going to have to watch the movie at an angle, checking on Elton and Bernie’s reaction throughout the whole thing—and he does, and it’s transcendental. They just look ecstatic, the pair of them, and Taron really wishes Jamie was there to see what a fucking marvellous job they did.

He cries his eyes out for approximately seventy percent of the film. Elton does too but, by time the lights turn on, he’s grinning again, and his eyes are not even a bit red. Elton must not be human, Taron concludes.

He, on the other hand, is very much from this planet. He realises they’re giving them a fucking standing ovation, and he feels cameras on him, and he tries to hold back approximately a million and a half sobs of relief—and he fails miserably.

Richard is there, though. He’s there through it all.

He’s there when they’re being filmed, and he’s also there when they’re walking out of the hall.

He’s there to grab his hand and surreptitiously drag him away—like they’re not in the most public place ever, like no-one’s going to notice.

He’s there in front of him in a deserted toilet, clicking the lock behind him and resting his back on the door.

He’s there, breathing hard, looking down at Taron, his eyes glazed—happy tears.

He’s there.

He’s in love. It's plain as day he is.

Taron smiles, then kisses him, and it feels like coming home.


You're the only one I need
Put your love on me