Prompt: #44 – Pretend
Warnings: Twincest, hints of angst, schmoopiness.
Disclaimer: Standard disclaimer applies.
Summary: But Bill tries for Tom, because sometimes Tom has moments of weakness in which he simply can’t pretend anymore.
Comments: Deals with the whole issue of Bill’s throat problems and throat surgery back in 2008. Companion piece to All He Can Ask For, Communicating in Silence, and Sometimes You can Count on Forever. Written for 100_prompts.
Sometimes Bill has to pretend—not for his own sake, but for Tom’s, because there are times when Tom forgets to put that unnecessary mask on that he’s been wearing lately, and Bill can see all of the fear and the sadness and the worry in those hazel eyes. They’re a mirror image of his own.
There are dark circles under Tom’s eyes, too. Proof that he hasn’t been sleeping well lately, and all the makeup in the world couldn’t hide that, not that Tom would ever willingly go anywhere near the stuff anyway.
So, sometimes Bill has to pretend when Tom can’t. Sometimes, when Tom’s mask slips, Bill will grab his notebook and scribble, I’m okay, Tomi. I’m okay. He’ll write it even though he doesn’t feel okay. He’ll write it even though he’s scared to death and doesn’t know what’s going to happen to him, to them, if this doesn’t end well.
He writes that he is okay when he is anything but—he lies. It feels like the world has turned upside-down and left him feeling dizzy and disoriented and without something he’d taken for granted for all of his life: his voice.
They’re too old for this game, he knows. Pretend is for seven-year-old boys who don’t want to believe that their father isn’t coming back home.
But Bill tries for Tom, because sometimes Tom has moments of weakness in which he simply can’t pretend anymore.
I’m okay, he writes. It’s going to be okay.
He can only hope that the words don’t ring as hollowly on paper as they would if he could say them out loud.
Then again, if he had the ability to do that, none of this would really be an issue at all, would it?
Sometimes, Bill can’t muster the energy to pretend, and that’s when Tom takes over, turning back into a mother hen, worrying and fussing over him even worse than Simone does.
Sometimes, Bill will grimace when he swallows, because the pain is still there—still raw and he thinks of the surgery and that only makes it worse. He’s glad that he was completely out of it when the sharp instruments came into play.
Tom notices the grimace, of course, and asks if he’s okay, immediately following that question up with, “Do you want some water? Ice chips? That nasty-tasting shit that the doctor gave you to kinda numb your throat?”
Bill shakes his head – no to all of the above – and he turns to look out the window so that his twin won’t have to see that he’s falling apart on the inside. Not that Tom really needs to see because Bill knows that Tom already knows, anyway. There are no secrets between them, not really. There never have been, because they are linked, their souls irreversibly intertwined, and Bill really would never have it any other way.
Seeing his pain and fear reflected in Tom’s eyes hurts, though. His pain is Tom’s, and vice-versa. Sometimes Bill wishes he could change that part, at least, so that Tom wouldn’t have to suffer with him like this.
Tom crawls onto the bed with him, slides his arms around him and holds him close, and it’s all Bill can do to keep the tears at bay. He hears the soft sound that Tom makes – a barely-repressed sob – and it makes his breath hitch painfully in his already-sore throat. It’s like a vicious never-ending cycle: both of them just keep on hurting, and Bill doesn’t know when or if it will ever stop.
Above all, he hates seeing Tom – the one person who means more to him than anything in the whole world – like this, miserable and terrified.
He blames himself, to a certain extent. If he’d only gone to the doctor when he’d first acquired that nasty sore throat and nagging cough, the doctor could have given him antibiotics and he could have gotten well. If he’d done that, there never would have been a cyst, and things wouldn’t have gone batshit crazy, and neither he nor Tom would be feeling like this right now.
“It’s going to be okay, Bill,” Tom soothes, pressing a kiss to the top of Bill’s head (he hasn’t washed his hair in days and Bill knows it has to stink, but Tom doesn’t seem to mind). “You’re going to be okay.”
Bill trembles with a barely-suppressed sob of his own. He can’t pretend, not today. He can’t keep everything bottled up. He reaches for his notebook and his pen, scrawling barely-legible words on one of the pages: I hate this. I hate to know that you’re drowning in misery with me.
Tom smiles then, leaning in to kiss Bill’s lips this time, and it’s chaste and soft and oh, so sweet. “Your pain is my own, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. You know that.”
Bill does know, but hearing Tom say it makes the tears come, and they splatter onto the page, making the ink run. The tears are there for an entirely different reason, now.
“Are you okay?” Tom asks, once again the frantic mother hen.
Bill nods and buries his face against Tom’s shoulder. It isn’t a lie, not right now. He is okay, for the time being.
He’s nowhere near one-hundred-percent better; he isn’t even sure if he’s anywhere near forty-percent better.
But he is feeling a lot better, because of his twin, and that means something, at least.
It means all the world to him.
Sometimes, they don’t have to pretend. Sometimes, it’s completely unnecessary.
Times like this, for instance, when they are curled up together on Simone’s and Gordon’s couch, watching some stupid soap opera and rolling their eyes at the sheer ridiculousness of it all, eating popsicles and just existing, together. Bill’s notebook is lying on the coffee table in front of them, and Bill himself is chewing on his popsicle stick, curled close against Tom’s side, head resting on his chest. He’s washed his hair, so at least it smells better now and Tom won’t have to suffer the stench.
It’s moments like this in which they can forget all about pretending, because fear and panic and anxiety and phrases like ‘you may never sing again’ don’t exist within their little bubble of togetherness. For short moments at a time, they can shut all of that out and keep it out, because it doesn’t belong.
It isn’t a form of denial, and it isn’t make-believe (close your eyes and all the bad things will go away). It’s just them, as it always has been and always would (and should) be.
Tom doesn’t like the silence sometimes, Bill knows. He knows that he misses his voice, but they make due with what they have—that perfect, unyielding, unwavering, undying connection that they’ve always had between them. Sometimes they don’t need any words at all (and it’s always been like that), whether they be spoken aloud or scribbled hastily on a piece of notebook paper.
Volumes can be spoken with a meaningful glance, a simple touch, a small smile.
He tosses his popsicle stick onto the coffee table with his as-of-this-moment abandoned notebook, and closes his eyes, sliding both arms around his twin and holding onto him. There is safety in this, because Bill knows that they were wrapped around each other like this, years ago, inside their mother’s womb.
Bill is safe and warm and happy, even in his silence, all negative emotions at bay for the moment. Tom’s heartbeat is strong beneath his cheek, and Tom’s arms are both gentle and protective as Tom tightens his hold. Bill can’t tell if it’s a conscious gesture, but decides that it doesn’t really matter if it is or if it isn’t, because they’re here and whole and together, and that’s what counts, above all.
Bill just lets himself forget that sometimes, he thinks.
“It’s gonna be okay,” Tom murmurs for the first time since they’ve crawled onto the couch together today. “You’re going to be okay.”
Bill instantly reaches for the notebook, scribbling down a message that is slow and lazy-looking due to Bill’s current state of blissful drowsiness. He hasn’t been sleeping well lately either.
We’re going to be okay, he corrects, and Tom laughs, muttering something under his breath about how Bill always seems to want to have the last word, and then he kisses Bill, lingering for several moments (Simone and Gordon are outside, after all—not like they’re going to see) until Bill’s breathing becomes a little erratic and his heart skips a few beats.
And now, while he’s thinking clearly and not riding on some adrenaline rush fueled by panic, Bill can believe his own words—no need for playing pretend. He knows that they’ll be okay in the end, one way or another, no matter what happens, because they are together. Always will be.
And that makes all the difference.
Have you guys gotten sick of the sap yet? It just keeps coming, doesn’t it? ^^;; I love writing it, though. And, in my defense, it really is inevitable when it comes to these two.
I hope you all enjoyed. :)