[ Sky – Master Post ]
Title: Taste Like Sky
Characters: Sin, Sebastian, some girl
Warnings: Implications of het, implications of faggotry, expletives, angst
Notes: I needed to fix this. It was the first part written, and it’s the last part revised. It was … almost right, but there were a few things that just didn’t fit. This should be right. Shout if anything looks like it’s still busted.
"Girl! Cymoril! Uh, Seraphina! Goddammit. … … Sin!"
Sebastian stood on one foot, his other boot setting the timer on the microwave, one hand frantically stirring the cream sauce on the stove, trying not to burn it, while the other hand checked the fridge for the butter. He was still dressed from the tour, smeared eyeliner from the last show staining the hollows around his dark grey eyes, frilled cuffs crammed into the sleeves of his frock coat, to keep them out of the sauce. It always got so cold, when he was away.
"Sydney," Sin called back from the living room, with a laugh. "You okay in there, Batty?"
"Sydney, for fucksake, where is the goddamn butter?" Sebastian shouted, ignoring Sin’s question, entirely.
"It’s right where you left it, Severen. How the hell should I know? Maybe Dr. Nilsson put it somewhere," the girl called back from the living room, where she shared a bag of watermelon jelly beans with Sin — Dr. Nilsson, to her and the rest of the academic community.
"If it was where I left it, I’d have it by now. Sin puts things where he knows they belong, so this is your doing. Now, get your ass off my couch and your hands off my fiancee and find it for me. I’m not taking my eyes off this pan." If there was one thing about Sebastian, it was that the more irritated he got, the calmer he sounded. Right now, it was probably possible to freeze water in his mouth.
Sydney rolled her eyes at Sin, tossing the bag of jelly beans at him, as she got up. Walking past the dining room table, on her way to the kitchen, she found the butter on it, right where she’d left it, after breakfast.
"It’s squishy," she warned, setting it next to the stove, as Sebastian regained both his feet.
"You left it out, didn’t you." It wasn’t really a question.
"I might have. Jesus, you’re picky." Sydney flipped her frizzy, straw-coloured hair, as she turned and went back to Sin.
"You really shouldn’t be so flippant with him, you know," Sin warned, across the top of his book, around a mouthful of jelly beans.
"Why, because he’s famous, or because you’re infatuated with him?" She grabbed the jelly beans back, and tossed a few into her mouth. "Such a pig! You’ve eaten like half the bag while I was up!"
"Mostly because this is his house." Sin finally looked up, sweeping his excessively long hair, currently a brilliant shade of emerald, back from his face. "Didn’t know that, did you. Thought it was mine, right?"
"Of course I thought it was yours! It’s not… It doesn’t…" Sydney gesticulated futilely.
"Suits him better than you’d know. You just don’t like him ― don’t like the idea of him ― and you can’t imagine liking his house ― which you do. I’ve heard you say it." Sin twisted himself around, implausibly, and reached behind a couch cushion. His hand came back with a bag of strawberry gummies, and he settled back into both the sofa and the book, pushing Sydney aside with his foot.
"You seriously have candy everywhere, don’t you?" Sydney stared at the bag of gummies in horror as she slid off the couch, landing rather smoothly on the floor.
"Of course I do. It’s not that I don’t love Batty’s cooking ― he’s incredible…" Sin trailed off, starry eyed, for a moment, before recovering. " ― uh, in the kitchen, too. Great cook, but no sense of those times when too much sugar isn’t enough."
"That’s really disgusting. On both counts." The horrified look shifted attention from the bag of gummies to Sin’s face. "I’ll never understand how you put up with him."
"That’s okay, he’ll never understand how I put up with you." Sin smiled placidly, turning the page. "But, he’s willing to tolerate you, for the evening, because you amuse me. And, that, I think, speaks for itself."
A shout from the kitchen interrupted the antagonistic turn the discussion had taken. "Sydney, get your greasy fingers off my toy and set the table. Do something useful, if you’re going to take up space," Sebastian’s smooth baritone cut through the sounds of crinkling plastic and rustling pages, leaving a hair-raising stillness in its wake.
She threw a jellybean at Sin and went to the kitchen to get the dishes, wondering how the professor could put up with someone like that.
Dinner was relatively uneventful, in that Sin was the only one who spoke, through the entire meal. Sydney sulked and glowered. Sebastian ate like a ravening jackal. But, Sin regaled them both with stories of his students and his fights with the department head over his intended curriculum, next semester. He talked as if nothing were wrong, at all, and turned his will on Sydney.
Sebastian stopped eating, for a few seconds, as the world realigned. He knew he was probably the only person who could feel it happen, and then only because he’d been around Sin for so many years, but it was a little nauseating. Not nearly enough to put him off his meal, though. Surely not after he’d bothered to cook it.
A few minutes later, Sydney began to giggle at the right places in Sin’s stories, though she still said nothing at all. Sebastian couldn’t swear that wasn’t intentional, on Sin’s part. As long as Sin talked, Sebastian could be invisible and Sydney was entertained.
After dinner, Sin insisted that Sydney go home. She’d been there almost a week, and now that Sebastian was back, Sin really had no use for her. She was there to take up space while his great black bat was gone.
"It’s him, you know," he told her, at the door. "Perils of being raised with heavy heteronormative influences. He’s afraid you’re going to take me away from him, purely by virtue of being female and getting in my pants. I’d like it on record that nothing of the sort will be happening. I’ve loved Severen since I was probably about your age, and that’s not going to change any time soon. Not that I expect you think differently."
"I’m not stupid," Sydney snapped, but somewhere in her, he’d struck a chord she’d never realised was there. She did want him to leave Severen, which was part of what upset her so much, when she heard the house belonged to the great black bat. She dreamed of coming home to Sin, every night, not just the ones that Severen was gone for. She dreamed of him in his public face ― Dr. Everett Nilssen, Professor of Political Science ― instead of Sin, plaything to an arrogant, hatchet-faced rock star.
For all that Sydney wanted Sin, she really didn’t know him at all. And, he knew it, and made certain that, to some extent, things stayed that way. He watched her walk back to her car and wondered if she had any idea that Sin predated Severen by some years, as far as personae went, and that he’d fought a very long, uphill battle to be just that very plaything she hated to see him as. Probably not. He hadn’t told her, and she was too young and headstrong to realise that there is, in truth, no accounting for taste. And his taste, according to several thousand screaming fangirls, was pretty good.
Sin came back in to find Sebastian flipping through the papers he’d been grading, before he got distracted by the book on the coffee table.
"You’re too easy on them, Sin. This is a C+? I’d have set it on fire and mailed back the ashes." Sebastian shook his head and laughed, holding out a hand for Sin to join him on the couch.
"You also taught Language and Literature," Sin reminded him, taking back the papers and picking up his red pen, as he sat.
"I also taught it to high school students," Sebastian reminded him.
"Touché, Batty." Sin looked mildly annoyed as he tested the pen on the back of his hand, before starting, again. "I got some complaints from the department about my grading practices. Something about ‘too much focus on grammar’ and how I should really only take the content of the work into account."
"So, now you’re grading like a kindergarten teacher? Come on."
"Sebastian, it’s not my fault they’ve gotten into college with no idea how to construct a sentence. I believe that was your department, not mine."
"Ouch." One of Sebastian’s eyebrows arced up, in surprise. "But you’re still letting them get away with it."
"My grading is still stiffer than any of the T&As teaching composition, these days." Sin stared vacantly at the paper in his hands, for a long moment. "We’d have been shot in the street for writing like this, when we were in school, even if we did it in the Math department."
Sebastian laughed. "Never mind the Math department, what did you just call the teaching assistants?"
"It has to be what they were hired for. It’s not like they have the academic sense the gods gave a turnip." Sin put the cap back on his pen and threw his hands up in disgust. "No. No more, tonight. And if I ever said anything about your attitude while you were teaching, which I know I did, I take it all back. I’m eating my words, and it’s only with massive application of gummy strawberries that they’re edible at all."
Sebastian shuddered with disgust as Sin tossed a few of the strawberries into his mouth. "That’s even worse than your grading. You think you’re going to kiss me with that mouth? Go wash it out with whiskey, first."
"Ass," Sin accused, around the sticky, pink mouthful.
"I’d rather," Sebastian snarked back.
"Oh, really? That can be arranged, you know."
Sebastian grinned predatorily, for a few seconds, before the look was pushed off with a sigh. "She’s going to be a problem, isn’t she?"
"Nothing I can’t take care of. I’ll see her in my office on Tuesday and put her off so she thinks it was her own idea." Sin shrugged.
"Before the damn indie press gets hold of the fact that I live here, this time, please?"
Sin snorted. "That was entirely your fault, last time. You showed her the door. You told her who you were."
"She saw my bags in the living room. It was somewhat difficult to dissemble. Besides, I was exhausted," Sebastian defended himself.
"Mmm. Still your fault, even if I did clean it up, for you." Sin lifted an eyebrow, pointedly. "But, don’t worry about Sydney. She’ll remember you as a dedicatedly obnoxious Catholic high school teacher."
"Catholic school? Must you?"
"They’re so much harder to get a straight answer out of than public schools…" Sin smiled.
Sebastian yawned. "Do what you must. I’ll try not to be early, next year."
Sin thwacked him solidly in the side of the head. "Don’t say stupid things. Although, I’m still baffled how you can be early… Didn’t you have a show last night?"
"We did. And we played it. And then we were supposed to stay the night, but Lir really wanted to get back to Elena, and I kind of wanted food that didn’t suck, and Evan’s thumbs were twitching, because he didn’t beat Resident Evil before we left…" Sebastian shrugged. "It’s not like Barry was going to sleep, anyway. So, here I am. Betty’s still up in Madrid with the bus and the goats, er, and her friends, obviously."
"How are … ah … Kent and Rhonda?"
"Clark and Roxanne. They’re doing fine. The goats are still trying to eat my coat. Normal as anything gets, around here." Sebastian yawned, again. "Less talking, more sleeping."
"You should probably take a shower. I’ll get you a clean towel and change the sheets." Sin got up and headed for the stairs.
"What am I still in a hotel?"
"Yeah, you stick with that. I promise you don’t want to think too hard about my motives, here."
"Ah, shit. Yeah. You’re right." Sebastian stopped himself before he rubbed his smudged face. "I’m right behind you."
The first shower at home wasn’t just about washing off the filth, it was about washing off the entire experience of the tour. It was about coming home and being home and knowing that there was no one to expect anything for just a little while. With the water spilling over him, Sebastian knew he could just take it all off and become no one, again. Uninteresting, cranky, determinedly boring Sebastian Lindstrom.
He squeezed grey water out of his hair and snorted. What passed for boring in his life was slightly more exciting than most people saw in a week. But, then, that had been true even when he was no one in particular. It wasn’t the house or the fame, it was just him, and he’d never really get away from it, although he was glad that ‘boring’ no longer involved getting smacked around. It really hadn’t, for probably almost twenty years, now, but there was still that itch in the back of his mind, like someone was watching, waiting for him to stop paying attention. He didn’t figure that would ever go away, but he could console himself with the idea that ‘boring’ now involved dinner for six and a bunch of drunks singing karaoke in the living room.
He turned off the water and grabbed the towel — clean and fluffy, in exactly the way hotel towels tried to be, but never really succeeded. The smell of clean, of home, the knowledge that Sin was waiting patiently in the other room for him — he wanted to slit his wrists, just to be sure he could die happy. But, that wasn’t quite true, because that night in San Francisco just wouldn’t let go of him, and he didn’t know what the hell to tell Sin about that.
"You haven’t asked," he noted, coming out of the bathroom, to sit on the edge of the bed, drying his hair on a bath towel.
"You look like shit, Batty. I figured if you wanted to tell me, you would." Sin turned a page and pushed up his glasses ― vanity kept him from wearing them, if he wasn’t reading in bed, but they really did make it easier to make out the words. "I’ve finally learned."
Sebastian let out a breathy, shaken laugh. "I’ve gotten so used to it, it’s strange when you don’t. I know I always have at you for it, and I shouldn’t, but it’s … Here I am getting tricked into stasis in my old age."
"I’m still older than you." Sin didn’t take his eyes off the page as he leaned out and caught a lock of Sebastian’s wet hair, wrapping it around his finger. "Would you please lay down before I drop the book? You’re making me jumpy."
The assumption that he would tell the story, regardless of his thoughts on the matter, amused Sebastian, but he would concede, privately, that Sin knew him too well. He tossed the towel at the bathroom door and slid under the sheets, curling up against Sin’s shoulder. Sin adjusted, easily, wrapping an arm around Sebastian’s shoulders and leaning it on the curve of his back, to continue holding the book. He knew better than to move much more than that ― Sebastian was being morose, again, like he did after a tour, and being touched tended to unsettle him.
"They get younger every year, Sin. And not a one will be convinced I’m any less good looking when all the paint comes off. I’m going to do a show without it one of these days, just to prove the point. I can sing ― it doesn’t mean I have a pretty face. And I love the shock when the smart ones notice." Sebastian breathed out, more than laughed, and shuddered, faintly. "I do it, because I love it. I love being a demigod, just for a little while. I love the music, I like the band, but I hate the fans. I can’t get away fast enough. I’m not perfect, off-stage. I don’t want to be. I just want to be left alone."
It was the same rant, almost to the word, every time. Sin waited, skimming both the book and the rant, waiting for Sebastian to get to something he hadn’t said before ― waiting for the right time to respond. It was almost like a play, after all these years, as Sebastian had noted when Sin didn’t ask about the tour.
"And you’re not with me. I have to do it alone, because you have your own love, here. I want you to be happy. I don’t want you to become what Sydney thinks you are, to me. I love you, Sin. Even more than the music. More than teaching. More than me. I love you. Oh, god, Sin… Don’t ever leave me."
Sin set the book down and wrapped his other arm around Sebastian, as well. Something particularly nasty must have happened, for him to worry like this. This was not normal ― this wasn’t supposed to happen, yet. Sebastian never broke down until he’d gotten to the story. And the stories were never that bad to hear ― most of them were funny, a few months later ― but the strain of the surrounding time always made everything so much worse ― he knew that. But this? This was different.
"I knew you had Sydney, here. You always have Sydney, these days. And before Sydney, it was Rhianne, Maureen, Eliza… Always someone while I’m away. But, you’re always here when I come home, just the same as you’ve always been." Sebastian’s voice caught in his throat, and Sin started to suspect. "It was horrible. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. It was terrible. I couldn’t ― I didn’t."
One of Sin’s ears twitched, and his hands tightened. He’d never even thought of Sebastian with anyone else. Sebastian had been his, wholly and solely, since the first, and to think that his track record would be broken by something so damaging to Sebastian simply infuriated him.
"Sin, don’t… I didn’t. I couldn’t. I tried, but… it was disgusting." Sebastian was shaking, now, his fingers and lips starting to chill, as he finally processed the horror of what he’d tried to do. "I can’t wash her off my hands. I shouldn’t even be touching you. I can’t get it off me."
Sin bent his head, as calmly as he could, and kissed the top of Sebastian’s head. Still, he said nothing.
"I made her leave. Called her a cab. She threw things and shouted." Sebastian finally half-smiled. "I told her I was gay. I thought that was the most obvious sentence I could have said, but I guess she thought different."
With a strangled noise of amusement, Sin tossed his glasses onto the nightstand, beside the book, and tilted Sebastian’s head back. "What, you thought I’d be angry with you? I’m angry that she couldn’t take a hint! We were all over Propaganda, last year, in poses that would make your mother spin in her grave! What did she think?"
"She thought I was like you," Sebastian offered, jabbing a skinny finger into Sin’s ribs.
"Oh, am I so terrible, then? I thought you rather liked me." Sin rolled his eyes, dramatically, and stared off into the corner of the ceiling with a frown, pretending to be offended.
"Yes, but what would the world do with two of you? Especially if one of you was me!"
"I think I’d be rather bored if you were me. I’m so predictable to myself." Sin slid down the headboard, a bit, snuggling closer to Sebastian.
"Yes, but I’m predictable to you, too." Sebastian reached over his head and swatted at the nightstand until he hit the off switch on the lamp.
"Not always," Sin confessed, as Sebastian stretched out onto him, head tucked under his chin. "Not this time."