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When he opened the door, he wished – really wished, eyes shut tight, breath held, like a kid on his birthday – that he would be there, that he would be casually smoking or drinking, maybe napping, waiting, so that Jerry could pretend his partner lost track of time on the links and stumbled sheepishly late backstage, squirrelled himself away in the dressing room; and he would be curled up, now, in one of the chairs, one hand tucked against his mouth, looking so impossibly cute that any bitterness would dissolve into so many forgotten indignities; and when he woke and stood and opened his arms, Jerry would go to him, and his hand would work its magic on Jerry’s back, and Jerry would nuzzle into his warm neck, and they would hold each other for a while; and with an anxious flutter in his stomach, and a dreadful certainty around his heart, Jerry entered the dressing room.

***

They were sitting in his suite: Jeanne perched on the edge of the bed, holding an undrunk scotch; Dean stretched out on the mattress. Absentmindedly, he trailed his fingers up and down her back, staring into his own half-empty glass. His second. She looked at him and smiled. He returned it reflexively, put down the glass, and shuffled forwards to wrap an arm around her perfect waist, to stroke her perfect hair, to kiss that perfect mouth. She was perfect. It was easy to tell her that.

The phone rang. It jingled and clattered. Jeanne’s shoulders dropped an inch or less, and then her spine regained its perfect straightness. Her smile didn’t touch her eyes. He slid off the bed, briefly held his head in his hands, and stood. And as he crossed the floor, he knew whose voice would be on the end of the line. But then, he knew as soon as the phone rang, as soon as he sat on the bed, as soon as they got back to the room, as soon as they left the club. He knew.

“Please come back. It’s awful lonesome without you.”

Dean closed his eyes. The Idiot trembled in those words, but Dean could sense the difference, the effort. He could see him hunched over the phone, huddled in a corner. He could see his lips too close to the mouthpiece, his fingers tangled in the telephone cord. He could see that hand moving to his stomach to rub some phantom pain. He saw himself covering the hand that held the receiver, gently lowering it to the cradle. He saw himself wrapping an arm around that skinny waist. He saw himself touching his partner's stomach, making circles, soothing. He saw his partner turn his head, eyes half-lidded, the picture of contentment.

He didn't want to see what happened next.

***

Jerry hid his face in Dean’s neck, fingers teasing the lapels of his tux. “Are you mad at me?”

“Oh, always,” Dean said and chuckled as Jerry’s nails dug between his ribs.

“Don’t be mean.” Dean heard the smile in his voice, felt his mouth curl against his skin. “I’m sensitive.”

“You’re somethin’, babe.”

Jerry shuddered with pleasure, with relief, with a hundred other things too wonderful and terrible to name. Dean kneaded the spot between his shoulder blades, politely ignoring the soft moan muffled in his collar. They held each other for a while.

“Guess I oughta apologise to Jeannie, too.”

“Guess you oughta.” But as Jerry made to leave, Dean took hold of his wrist.

“Paul? What—” His words were erased by the soft stroke of Dean’s thumb against his pulse. Dean’s bowed head hid his eyes, but Jerry saw the tightness in his jaw. He reached out, matched his partner’s rhythm with his index finger, wishing to smooth the tension from the face he loved so well. More digits joined, and when his middle finger found that secret place behind Dean’s ear, his strong jaw sat comfortably in Jerry’s palm.

“Thank you,” he whispered, “for coming back.”