The Uncertain Hour


Rating: R

Summary: It's now or never.
Notes: Spoilers through 202; thanks to throughadoor and ragingpixie for always giving good advice, and to T.S. Eliot for the title and quotation.

This was all susanderavish's idea.


And what you thought you came for
Is only a shell, a husk of meaning
From which the purpose breaks only when it is fulfilled
If at all.

Justin waits for Brian's breathing to deepen and slow, then counts to a thousand before sliding out from under the covers and crouching at the foot of the bed. He can barely see it, but it's there -- mottled white and brown, peeking out from beneath the sheet that they pushed to the floor to avoid sleeping in the wet spot.

He reaches out to pick it up, then stops and glances back at Brian's sleeping form. He knows that he shouldn't feel like this is somehow an invasion of privacy, but he does nonetheless. He breathes deeply once, then again, then closes his eyes and just takes it. There's no time to think about what it meant or what it means or the hundreds of nightmares that it represents for both of them. He has to get rid of it, and now's the only time.

He pads over to the window and rests it on the sill while he unlocks and lifts one of the panes. It takes both hands, and the bad one starts to shake a little. Then he's holding it outside with the same trembling hand, and the irony of it all isn't lost on him, but this isn't about irony or healing his own wounds. It's about Brian, about fixing what little he can.

There's no breeze, and it hangs limp from his hand. He almost doesn't want to let it go, but then a truck drives past, sending up a gust to the window, and he opens his fist before he can stop himself, feels the silky strands of the tassels slip through his fingers as it floats away. He doesn't wait to watch where it goes -- down to the dirty street or up to fucking heaven, he has no idea.

He shuts the window a little too hard and curses to himself. When he slips back up the stairs, he can see that Brian's awake and watching him.

"What were you doing?" he asks, but it's not accusatory at all. Curious, maybe. Even hesitant.

"Nothing. I just... nothing. I couldn't sleep."

Brian reaches a hand out for him to pull him back into bed, and Justin reaches back with his own, then withdraws it out of some crazy fear that Brian will know, somehow, if he touches him with the same hand he used to throw it out. That he'll smell it or feel it or just know. He climbs onto the bed and presses his cheek against Brian's still-outstretched palm.

"Your hand is shaking," Brian whispers, and there's nothing Justin wants less than for Brian to think that he won't touch him with the fucking gimp hand, so he covers Brian's fingers with his on the side of his face.

Brian squeezes lightly, and it hurts but he won't say anything, not after this, after all that's happened tonight. He needs Brian to feel absolved, finally. He needs it like he needs to draw and fuck and breathe, and when Brian pulls their faces together and kisses him until he's gasping, he thinks that one out of three is probably good enough.

When Brian presses inside him, it's not like the first time. It's like every time they've ever been together, easy and hot and painful in a way that getting bashed in the head isn't, that wearing a bloody scarf for an entire month can't even come close to.

When he comes, Brian cries out and Justin knows that he knows -- that it's gone, that Justin's going to be okay, that they can finally start to move on. It's a thousand different kinds of release all at once, and Justin realizes that Brian wasn't the only one in need of absolution.