4:56 PM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, MASTER BATHROOM
Bo opened his eyes as the bathroom door opened. He sat on the edge of the bathtub, waiting for the water to fill the tub. “Hi,” he greeted.
Jensen smiled faintly. “Hi.” He closed the door, leaning back against it. “Your mom’s gonna make supper,” he said quietly. “So… I thought I’d join you.”
“You want to take a bath with me?” Bo questioned.
“Yes.” Jensen shook his head, glancing down at the floor briefly before his green eyes shifted back up to Bo’s face. “Eli, I don’t think you understand. If it were up to me, I’d do almost everything with you. I just like to spend time with you,” he said softly.
One corner of Bo’s mouth lifted. “You’re sweet. Come here.” Jensen crossed the room, leaning down to kiss Bo. The blonde held Jensen’s freckled face between his hands, smiling as he broke the kiss. “I love you. You know that, don’t you?”
“Good,” Bo whispered.
Jensen lowered himself to his knees, crossing his arms over Bo’s thighs. “And you know how much I love you, right?” he questioned.
“I have a pretty good idea,” Bo said.
“Good,” Jensen echoed. He reached up, brushing a thumb over Bo’s cheek. “How much longer?” he asked.
Bo quickly rifled through the possibilities of what Jensen could be asking about before settling on the topic of the twins. “Well, because birth can be unpredictable, I don’t have an exact number for you. But, on average, a little under four months,” he said.
“I’m so damn excited, Eli,” Jensen breathed.
Bo smiled. “You and me both, Jens.”
“Cecilia and I both like your mythology names.”
“I was kidding about those. I don’t want our children to be named something crazy. Do something popular, something safe. You know… William, Ethan, James, Alexander. Something safe,” Bo said.
“Castor and Pollux are cute.”
“Maybe, but not once they get into middle school. You’ll have kids calling one Castor the Bastard and the other something uncreative that incorporates ‘bullocks’.”
“So? Kids are dicks. You can do that with any name. Lame James.” Jensen opened his mouth to continue before frowning.
“You can only think of the one, can’t you?”
“Yeah,” Jensen whispered. “Damn. I had a good argument for a minute there, though, right?”
Bo chuckled softly, tucking Jensen’s dark hair back behind his ear. “Yeah, love, you did.” He lifted his shoulders, closing his eyes briefly as he was reminded of the tense muscles that resided there. “Look, I’m not entirely against it. Truly, I’ll cave in eventually, because I love you and I think you’re incredibly adorable.” Jensen smiled faintly. “I just see it wrong to purposely give a child a name that’ll shove them out in front of the crowd forever. Pollux has never made it into the top one thousand for popularity, and the same goes for Castor.”
“So? Jensen wasn’t exactly popular when I was growing up. I didn’t get picked on.”
“You were in school for most of your life.”
“No, but when I was, I wasn’t bullied. Teachers thought my name was unique. Hell, it was better than the seven Emmas I had in my first grade class.”
Bo chuckled, leaning forward to press a kiss to Jensen’s forehead. “I love you,” he said, reaching back to turn off the water.
“I love you, too. But I am serious, Eli. A kid’s name doesn’t determine if they get picked on, and a kid’s name doesn’t determine their success in life. We get to name our kids whatever the hell we want to, and if someone doesn’t like it, they can go fuck off.”
Bo smiled. “We’ll see, okay? Let’s come up with several names, and we’ll narrow it down from there.” He cocked his head to the side. “Does that sound okay?”
Jensen nodded, a faint smile tugging at either corner of his mouth. “Sounds great to me, babe.”
“So, let’s take a bath, we’ll eat supper, and then… we’ll play a couple games with the girls. After all that’s said and done, you can read the article I wrote for the magazine. Just, you know, don’t get your hopes up. It’s nothing spectacular,” Bo said.
“I think every single thing you do is spectacular,” Jensen said, pushing himself to his feet. “And I may not be able to understand every big word you throw my way, but I know I’m gonna love every single one of them, because they came from your brain.”
“Thanks, Jens,” Bo murmured, looking down as he unbuttoned his shirt.
“No problem, Eli.” Jensen wrapped his fingers around the bottom hem of his shirt. “Eli?”
“Do you think you’ll ever love yourself as much as I love you?”
“I don’t think that’s physically possible,” Bo said honestly. He stood up, shrugging off his shirt and letting it drop to the floor. “You love me so much. I don’t think anyone could ever match that. I think the universe might implode if I tried.”
Jensen laughed, shaking his head. He considered his husband’s answer for a moment, pulling his half-unbuttoned shirt over his head. “What about half as much?”
“Maybe. One day, I would assume. I already like myself more than I ever have before, and that’s because of you and… and everyone else that’s supported me through these last several hellish years. A few more years like this, and I think I’ll be at least most of the way out of my dark room of self-hatred.” Bo unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans. “May I ask why?”
“I dunno. Curiosity,” Jensen said. He offered a shrug. “I know you’re better now, but sometimes, it hurts to even think that there was a time when you hated yourself so much that you…” He trailed off, simply reaching out to touch a finger to the scars on Bo’s wrist.
“I know,” Bo murmured. “But I’m not like that any more. I’m better, healthier, and the hatred that used to hang over me like the biggest of rainclouds has dissipated to nothing but a… a little drizzle, if even. You know that… right?” Jensen nodded. “But you’re still worried.”
“I’m always worried, Eli. I’ve seen you in a lot of rough places, places… places I never thought you’d get back out of.”
“But I did, because of you. That’s what matters. I was who I was, I grew and I got better, and now I am who I am. I’m not going anywhere, not because… not because of self-hatred. That’s never something that’s going to sink its claws into me again. I promise you that,” Bo said.
“Really,” Bo confirmed. “You have my word, Jens. I don’t break promises.”
Jensen smiled faintly. “Okay,” he whispered. He looked down, unbuttoning his dress pants. “But, umm, Eli?”
“I love you. No matter who you are or what we name our kids or what Kathy says about us. I love you.”
A hand on Jensen’s face, Bo leaned up to kiss him. “I love you, too, Jens.” He patted Jensen’s chest as he stepped away from him. “Now, hurry up and get undressed. I’d like a bath before the end of the night.”
Jensen snorted. “Of course, Mister Austen.”
“Don’t be a dick, Mister Taylor,” Bo muttered, stepping out of his jeans.
“I have no control over that.”
“And why is that?”
“Because you are what you eat,” Jensen stated proudly. Bo groaned, rolling his eyes. “Come on! You walked right into that one!”
Bo laughed as he stepped into the bathtub. “I did. I definitely walked into that,” he agreed, lowering himself into the hot water. “But, you know, the next time you say it, I withhold sex until our one-year anniversary.”
“Now you’re a dick,” Jensen said.
“Well you know what they say,” Bo said.
Jensen snorted, climbing into the bathtub and sinking into the water behind Bo. “You love me,” he whispered, his lips brushing against Bo’s ear.
The blonde smiled as he leaned back against Jensen. “Most of the time,” he agreed.
The younger man chuckled, wrapping his arms loosely around Bo’s torso. He slid a hand up to Bo’s chest, tilting his head to rest against the wall. “After supper and after I read your article… massage of your lifetime, all right? I’m gonna get rid of every single knot and kink in your shoulders and neck. Promise.”
“Thank you, Jens.”
“Mm, my pleasure, babe.”
“I love you,” Bo whispered after a moment of silence.
“I love you, too, Eli,” Jensen whispered back.
9:40 PM; CLIFFBURN, SAPPHIRE HOTEL, ROOM 301
The man sat down on the edge of the hotel bed, a TV remote held between his hands. He flipped through the stations until he landed on the news. There was nothing important being reported, nothing but a shooting in Illinois and a string of robberies somewhere down south.
He preferred news about politics, but he knew that was a topic only reported when something huge blew over. He sighed softly, flipping the channel to some mindless rerun of an old television show instead. It was better than watching the fake smiles on the newcasters’ faces, that was for sure.
He set the remote on the nightstand and kicked off his slippers. Already in his pajamas, he slid into bed. He turned off the bedside lamp, rolling onto his back, the show still playing on the television.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, for the briefest of moments, he heard an echo of… something. A sound, a voice, he wasn’t certain, but it made him feel warm inside, and it made him happy. He felt himself smile as he closed his eyes. It felt good to be happy, to feel comforted by something so simple as a noise in his own head.
With the characters on the television talking about one of the character’s clothing company, the man drifted off to sleep, feeling overcome with nothing but utter peace and internal quiet.
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