Status: Oh hey I made a collection for this universe

A Clean Slate

The paradox of broken wholeness.

“Come on, Kellin, we’re going to be late!”

Vic shifted impatiently by the door, glancing out the window every three seconds like he thought that Jaime’s Ford Mustang was going to disappear. Vic wouldn’t put it past his best friend, pulling out of the parking lot and speeding off towards the party just because Vic and Kellin took five minutes too long. He had been honking obnoxiously from the minute he pulled up next to the front door of the apartment building.

“Just a second!” came Kellin’s voice from the direction of the bathroom down the hall.

Honk honk! went the horn outside. Vic sighed anxiously, craning his neck around the corner so that he could glimpse the sliver of light underneath the door of the bathroom. Kellin never took this long to get ready, though he supposed he should cut his boyfriend some slack considering that they were about to embark on a trip to what was sure to be the most epic Halloween party in either of their lifetimes. Vic knew from experience that putting together the perfect costume was no easy task, though Kellin had been uncharacteristically mysterious as to what he was dressing up as this year.

As for Vic, he and Jaime had had their costumes planned for months. As a tribute to the upcoming election, they had decided to dress as the two presidential candidates, complete with wigs and suits. They’d had to flip a coin to decide whom got the privilege of portraying Obama, which unfortunately Vic had lost, which was how he found himself now with streaks of gray running through his hair and a red tie around his neck. Continuing the political theme, it hadn’t taken much convincing for Jaime’s significant other, though male, to dress as Jill Stein, and through a lack of any better ideas Tony had ended up as Biden.

However, as much as Jaime had pleaded for Kellin to be Paul Ryan (“You’re so fucking perfect, it’s almost scary, dude.”), Vic’s boyfriend had politely declined.

And Vic couldn’t miss the demure yet mischievous smile that had flickered across Kellin’s features every time Halloween was brought up in conversation. Whatever he was planning, it had better be fucking good.

peaking of which, he had been in the bathroom for more than thirty minutes now, and they were already pushing ten-thirty.

Hoooooonk, honk honk!

Vic had had enough. “Kellin, in five seconds I’m leaving and locking this door behind me, so if you don’t get your ass out here I swear—”

The bathroom door opened softly, and whatever exasperated words had been on Vic’s lips died instantly.

“All right, all right, I’m here. Jeez, take a sec and untangle your panties before we leave.”

Vic could only stare at his boyfriend, eyes wide and mouth gaping like a fish out of water while Kellin stepped forward into the glow of the light, illuminating him in all his glory.

He was dressed as a cat.

But not just a cat. Oh no. Kellin fucking Quinn was dressed sexier than any motherfucking cat that Vic could conjure in his wildest dreams.

From the tips of his shiny stiletto boots, all the way up his slender legs clad in nothing but black fishnets and the tiniest booty shorts that could still cover his intimate bits, to his torso concealed by a bodice (a fucking bodice) and finally to his face embellished with drawn-on whiskers and a nose, and the furry black cat ears perched on his head, Kellin’s appearance screamed sex appeal like nothing Vic had ever witnessed.

Idiotic though he knew he looked, the Mexican could barely snap himself out of his daze in time to catch Kellin’s slightly hesitant, “Well? Do I look okay?”

Do you—?!” Vic nearly choked. He could feel the heat rushing to his face as well as other places. He cleared his throat and, putting on a mock dignified face, straightened his tie and said stiffly, “You’ll do, Mr. Quinn.”

Then he broke into a grin and came forward to envelop his boyfriend in a kiss, and then a murmured, “You look perfect, babe.”

“Not too Rocky Horror, then?” questioned Kellin against Vic’s lips, sounding pleased.

“Not a bit.” Another kiss, deeper this time. Kellin’s eyes fluttered closed as Vic’s hands found his hips expertly. The younger man wrapped his arms, clothed in elbow-length fishnet gloves, around Vic’s neck. “You know,” continued Vic quietly. “We don’t have to go to this party tonight . . .”

Kellin stepped back at that, disentangling himself from Vic’s clutches, his eyes twinkling and that same playful smirk playing around his lips. “Now, that wouldn’t be very professional of us, would it, Governor?” he asked, beginning to make his way around Vic towards the door. Vic followed behind, his eyes trailing up and down Kellin’s body, unable to get enough. He had to restrain himself from calling the whole thing off officially and taking Kellin right then and there when he saw the black tail somehow attached to the waistband of his shorts.

When they had finally made it out of the house and into the backseat of the Mustang, Jaime grumped over the excessive wolf-whistling that Mike was doing from his place crammed next to Tony, “Finally! I thought you two had died or something.”

“Nope. We are very much alive and ready to get this show on the road. And careful with that whistling, buddy!” Vic said in a warning voice to his brother (who was adorned in his usual Harry Potter ensemble) even though he was well aware it was only a joke.

“Well, well, well,” teased Chris, straight-faced, turning around in the passenger seat. “I didn’t think anything could possibly top our election idea, but you have put us all to shame, Kellin. Tell me, how many fetish shops did you have to go to before you found that in your size?”

“Big talk coming from a third-party candidate. How are the polls going, hippie?” retaliated Kellin, but honestly Chris was pulling off Jill Stein so flawlessly and seriously, gray wig and pantsuit intact, that no one could wholeheartedly insult him.

By the time the car pulled up to Justin’s house, where the Halloween bash was being held this year, everyone in the car had traded in-character insults with each other and the laughter was infectious. In high spirits, the six of them spilled out of the crammed vehicle and began to meander up the lawn, where a few partygoers were already having drunk shenanigans.

Vic’s arm found Kellin’s waist as soon as the two of them had made it safely out of the car. Kellin gave him a side glance, excitement evident in his features. “This is gonna be so fun,” he said confidently, his eyes actually crinkling at the corners with joy.

Vic smiled back, but already the dread was starting to settle in his chest.

As if he could read his boyfriend’s mind, worry flitted through Kellin’s eyes. He said in a quieter voice, “You sure it’s okay that I drink tonight? Because if it would make you feel more comfortable—”
“Kellin. It’s fine. I promise.” Vic smiled again, doing his very best to act as nonchalant as possible about the whole thing. It’ll be fine. Everything’ll be fine.

“If you’re sure . . .”

Kellin bit his lip, and even though he was clearly anxious, the sight of the action combined with the overall hotness of his costume—which Vic was still struggling to get used to—was enough to have the older man smiling genuinely as he leaned in to place a kiss delicately on Kellin’s lips.

They stopped on the porch right outside the front door, enjoying each other for a few seconds, blocking out the white noise of the party with the sounds of each other’s’ breathing and heartbeats. Sounds of life. Sounds that had become as custom and soothing as childhood lullabies through the rhythms of familiarizing. Kellin’s exploring hands slipped under Vic’s suit jacket while Vic investigated the novel pleasures of the way Kellin’s arms felt clad in fishnet, and the slivers of skin peek-a-booing from between the hem of his bodice and the waistline of his shorts.

When someone that sounded suspiciously like Gabe called, “Get a room, you two!” they finally broke apart. Vic fixed his boyfriend with a warm, loving look. “I’m sure.”


Vic always forgot how much parties sucked when you didn’t drink.

This was not to say whatsoever that he thought that you could only have fun if you were drunk; of course not. There wasn’t a single ounce of regret in him over his decision to get sober. It was just that at parties, when you’re surrounded by hordes of people acting like idiots and having the time of their lives doing so, there was very little to enjoy about being that dude in the corner, a Coke on one hand and his phone in the other, checking Twitter for Pete’s sake because he was so goddamn bored.

This was exactly what Vic was doing right now, what he had been doing for the past two hours, and what he would probably be doing until it was time for him to round up whatever friends weren’t passed out on the furniture and drive them back to their respective places of residence. And the way they were carrying on now, he wouldn’t be surprised if he had to lug them back into their houses and tuck them into bed himself. Yippee. And people wondered why he usually declined his friends’ invitations to attend their parties, “epic” as they might be described as.

Of course, all of this would be a little more bearable if his boyfriend decided to refrain from the intake of alcohol right along with him, which had happened before. Quite often, in fact, so often that Vic had felt far too guilty about it to keep Kellin from indulging in as many beers as his little body could safely take tonight. Kellin had been looking forward to Justin’s party for a while; hell, everyone had. There was no way Vic was going to be a spoilsport on such a fun night, even though he was insanely bored and a little bitter and wishing that he and Kellin had decided to stay in tonight and give out candy.

Though heaven knows the parents would start a riot if Kels answered the door in that outfit, thought Vic to himself, smirking as he watched the younger man belt his heart out in a high-intensity song on the popular Harmonix game Rock Band. Even intoxicated, Kellin had the voice of an angel.

However, his smirk immediately disappeared when the song ended and Jesse leaned over to congratulate Kellin on a job well done, letting his hand linger on Kellin’s back for an instant longer than was truly necessary. Kellin didn’t seem to notice the gesture, just giving a victory cheer and flipping his dark hair out of his face and reaching over to the coffee table for his beer, but Vic gritted his teeth.

Jesse Lawson.

Let’s face it, a lot of people flirted with Kellin; it had taken a while for Vic to come to terms with that, and with the fact that this behavior was not going to end any time soon—and let’s face it, why would it?—but come to terms with it he did. This process was helped along by the constant glowers and even verbal warnings that Vic (and occasionally, his friends) would give to anyone who messed with Kellin a little too much. From this, people mostly learned to back off; at least, people who were acquainted with Vic. Sure, there was still the occasional touch or wink, but Vic knew that to go completely ballistic on everyone who gave his boyfriend a second glance would only cause more problems than it was worth.

Then, of course, there was Jesse.

Jesse had known Kellin for longer than Vic had, and through this mutual relationship he and Vic had gotten to know each other pretty well—well enough for Vic to conclude that Jesse was, in fact, a complete and utter asshole. But that wasn’t the point; assholes Vic could deal with. It was the incessant flirting with Kellin, mostly when they were both shitfaced, that really got under Vic’s skin more than anything else.

The thing was that Vic had talked to him about it, both drunk and sober. He’d had more conversations than he’d ever want to have with anyone about leaving his boyfriend the fuck alone, but somehow at the next party he always managed to completely blow off everything that Vic had told him. And Kellin was completely oblivious, of course, so there would be no help from him, so in the end Vic was always faced with a decision: He could try to chill out and just pretend that he hadn’t seen whatever play fight or unnecessary contact that had occurred between Kellin and Jesse; or he could step in and put a stop to it, making him look like an overprotective freak but at least securing that no one would dare touch Kellin at least for the rest of the night.

Right now, as horrible of a mood as Vic was already in, there was no way he could go for the first option.

With an actual growl, Vic pushed himself off of the stool he’d been sitting on, shoving his phone back into his pocket, and pushed his way through the partygoers grouped in clusters of three or four to where Kellin and the other Rock Band-ers were quibbling in slurred words over what song to play next. Jesse was sitting unacceptably close to Kellin, his jean-sheathed thigh pressing against Kellin’s almost bare one.

Ignoring the other “band members’” indignant cries as Vic crossed in front of the screen, Vic laid a rough hand on Jesse’s shoulder.

“Back. The. Fuck. Off,” he said in a quietly menacing voice.

Jesse appeared unfazed. He stared at Vic with unfocused eyes and a blasé grin. “I was just messing around, dude,” he laughed. “Chill.”

“Well, you’ve ‘messed around’ with him one time too many, buddy, so you’d better stop touching what’s not yours or—”

“Or what?” sneered Jesse.

“Or we’re going to have problems.” Vic looked the redhead in the eyes as he said it, no hint of humor or lightheartedness in his voice or face.

He watched as the last bit of laughter died in Jesse’s eyes, and as he began to slowly get to his feet Kellin suddenly cried, “Oh, stop it, both of you!”

The dark-haired man leapt up from the couch, and though he stumbled a bit once he was vertical the fiery anger in his face didn’t falter. He shoved away the steadying arm that Vic offered him, surprising everyone, and glared at Vic with a hostility that the Mexican man had rarely—if ever—seen in his boyfriend’s expression.

“Outside. Now,” snarled Kellin, grabbing Vic by the arm and dragging him away from the gamers and down the short hallway that led to the front door. The room behind them had fallen silent save for a few uneasy mutterings.

After practically throwing Vic out onto the porch where only a few short hours ago they had shared a sweet kiss, Kellin slammed the front door behind him and advanced on his boyfriend. “What the hell was that, Vic?”

Vic tried to swallow the mounting anger that he could feel building in his chest, but he could feel it bubbling to the surface as the words sprung from his mouth. “Don’t play dumb with me, Kellin!” he barked. “Don’t fucking pretend you don’t see the way he acts around you!”

“Who cares? It’s all in good fun. Jesus, try taking the stick out of your ass and maybe you’d have a little fun once in a while.” Kellin folded his arms across his chest.

Vic only grew angrier. “It’s not all in good fun and you know it! That bastard has been after your ass for months and you just sit there let it happen!”


“And it’s not just him!” interrupted Vic. “Every goddamn party we go to, people are practically groping you and it’s like you have no fucking idea!”

“I can take care of myself, Vic!” snapped Kellin, balling his fishnetted hands into fists.

“That’s not the fucking point!” exploded Vic, throwing his hands in the air. “People don’t know their boundaries because you’re not doing anything to stop them, and going out looking like that isn’t helping shit—”

Kellin’s eyes flared. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”

Vic knew that he had toeing the line; somewhere in the back of his rage-addled brain, part of him was screaming for him to just leave it, to hold his tongue for once before everything went up in flames. But he was just so goddamn sick of it, and everything was getting mixed into a jumble in his mind so that he was hardly aware what he was saying or what he was mad about anymore, so before he knew it the words were tumbling out of his mouth.

“It means that maybe people wouldn’t treat you like a whore if you didn’t dress like one!”

Vic felt an intense feeling of satisfaction for a fleeting moment as Kellin’s mouth opened in shock; at the same time he felt horribly sick that this was happening right now, and even sicker that he was gaining such pleasure from it.

Eyes still wide and appalled, Kellin quickly recovered enough to yell as loud as his shaky voice could manage, “Oh, I’m a whore now, huh?”

“Have you looked in the mirror lately?”

“You didn’t seem to mind earlier!”

“That was before you let every dude at the party feel you up while I was sitting right there!

“Why do you even bother with such a whore like me?” Kellin was crying now, really crying, fat tears rolling down his cheeks and mingling with the drawn-on cat whiskers. A violent sob punctuated his question, wracking his body and making a noise that ripped through the air. Vic had never seen his boyfriend cry like that before.

“Someone needs to! You’d probably have already been fucking date-raped if I wasn’t around.”

Everything was spiraling out of control. Vic could hardly see past the wall of red haze in front of his eyes, could hardly think past the overwhelming fury coursing through his veins. He didn’t know what was going on anymore; he couldn’t remember where he was, who he was, only that he was mad as hell and the fault lay with the thin, trembling man standing in front of him. Now that Kellin was crying he wanted more, more tears, more pain, and he didn’t know how to stop.

“I said I can take care of myself!” spat Kellin, who wasn’t faring any better. “God, do you think I’m a fucking child?!”

You might as well be when you’re drunk!” Vic yelled, his muscles tensing.

At least I can get drunk without getting into fights and putting my own goddamn brother in the hospital—!

That was where everything screeched to a dead, sudden, and very cold halt.

Kellin went absolutely stock-still, his eyes widening, as he realized what had just come out of his mouth.

Even if he’d tried, there was absolutely nothing Vic could do to stop his face crumpling in misery, tears already making their way down his face. “FUCK YOU, KELLIN QUINN!” he screamed, sobbing harder than he had sobbed in a very, very long time. “Just—just fuck you!” His voice died down to a whimper and he sank to his knees, crying uncontrollably.

By the time somebody found him, Kellin Quinn was long gone, and it was a hell of a time finding a sober body at the party to drive him home.


The last few notes of “Family Reunion” disappeared into the night, and the deafening cheers of the audience had finally simmered down to an exciting babble of conversation as the hundreds of concertgoers began to make their slow way out to the parking lot.

“That . . . was . . . amazing,” stated Vic in an awed voice over the roaring in his ears. He wondered if he would be able to hear again in the next sixth months, though frankly right now he didn’t care.

“Fuck yes it was amazing!” cheered Jaime from somewhere behind him; Vic could feel his best friend’s shoulder jostle him every once in a while as the crowd shoved them all forward. Chris somehow had the strange ability to walk in a calm, normal, and unruffled manner despite the insane amount of people all fighting their way to the narrow exit of the outdoor venue.

“Agreed,” said Kellin, clinging to Vic’s arm so as not to be separated from him.

It was Vic and Kellin’s third date, if you could count a Blink 182 concert with Jaime and Chris—who were not yet together—as a date, and Vic had to admit that it was one of the better ones that he’d been on in his day.

“Hey,” said Jaime, beginning to veer off longingly in the direction of one of the concession windows. “Let’s get drinks!”

“No, let’s just wait ‘til we get home,” moaned Chris, clearly beginning to feel irked and claustrophobic, but Jaime was already fighting his way through the stream of people towards the outrageous line for drinks, so with another exasperated groan the smaller man had no choice but to follow him. Vic and Kellin shrugged at each other and meandered after their friends at a relaxed pace.

Although the crowd had thinned substantially, as the four of them waited their turn patiently Vic noticed how Kellin didn’t show signs of letting go of Vic’s arm any time soon. The knowledge made warm tingles spread through Vic’s body.

It took more than fifteen minutes for the poor girls working the counter to serve the hordes of Blink fans all clamoring for the continuation of the party via alcoholic beverages, but finally Vic’s posse made it to the front of the line. Jaime was jubilant at finally having his long-sought beer, and Chris caved and got a drink as well now that they’d put in the time and effort to get here.

As he dug out his wallet, Kellin glanced at Vic shyly. “Aren’t you going to get anything?”

Vic shook his head. “Nah. Someone’s got to drive, remember? Besides, I don’t drink. I, um—” He cleared his throat, avoiding Kellin’s sea-blue gaze. “I used to have a bit of a problem.”

A bit of a problem was an understatement, but Kellin didn’t need to know the details. Not yet.

“Oh.” Kellin frowned, looking down uncomfortably.

“But don’t worry about it, it’s all in the past,” said Vic quickly, not wanting this to become a thing. He wasn’t shy when it came to talking about the time in his life when he’d been addicted, but it certainly wasn’t appropriate conversation material for a date, especially so early on.

He blinked in surprise when, smiling slightly, Kellin met his eyes and slowly pocketed his wallet again before stepping out of line, pulling Vic along with him.

Swallowing his astonishment, and perhaps the slightest bit of awe, Vic said quietly, “You didn’t have to do that, you know. I swear, it’s perfectly fine if you want to drink around me.”

“I know I didn’t have to. But I want to.” Kellin shrugged as the two of them began to make their way towards the exit, Jaime and Chris a bit ahead of them. He continued, “I mean, I can’t imagine what it’s like, always being the only one. So now you won’t have to be.”

For a few minutes Vic could only stare at his date, who was watching Jaime and Chris as they chased each other around the parking lot. Something was happening in his heart, something that he’d never felt before. It was like companionship or affection, but stronger, and Vic couldn’t find the word for it but it didn’t matter because it was there, and Kellin Quinn was the only person that had ever caused such a feeling. How was it that, even though only a moment before Vic had been pushing back the plague of half-fuzzy memories associated with his dark past, he now felt as though a ton of bricks had been lifted from his shoulders?

After Vic had dropped Jaime and Chris off at Chris’s bungalow, where they had already decided that a Just Dance tournament was in order, which would predictably be followed by both of them passing out on the couch and Jaime not stumbling back into the apartment he shared with Vic until the next day, Vic began the twenty-minute drive to Kellin’s house. It was a drive spent mostly in a comfortable silence; the cozy feeling that had settled over Vic’s heart had not faded a bit, not while the person from whom it stemmed was seated in the passenger seat so close.

After they pulled into the driveway of the two-story house, its lawn strewn with toys, complete with basketball hoop attached above the garage, Vic surprised Kellin by getting out of the car and encircling him in a hug; it was the least he could do, after what the younger man had done for him earlier. Kellin hugged back, draping his long arms around Vic’s shoulders and burying his face in the Mexican man’s neck.

They separated a few moments later, only to kiss slowly, experimentally, prolonging the inevitable separation that they knew was imminent. Somehow, even after an entire night together, they were still saddened by the thought of parting; at same time, they were excited by the idea that they felt this way, and by the thought of seeing each other again and taking everything one step further.

“Call me, okay?” requested Vic in a murmur, trailing his fingers along Kellin’s cheek as the latter began to move away from him, up the driveway.

Kellin smiled. “I’ll text you tonight.”

Vic watched the other man make the journey down the short sidewalk to the front door, chuckling as he was greeted by the three canines that the Quinn family loved like children, and disappear behind the door with a last small wave in Vic’s direction.

Looking back on it, this was the first fleeting glimpse of love that Vic had ever felt. Though there were times preceding it when that could debatably compete, from Vic’s first kiss with another man, to when he first laid eyes on the thin lifeguard entertaining the little girl on his lap, that night when Kellin first learned about Vic’s past “problem” held something special that Vic could never forget.

It was when he first learned—
really learned, having been given direct proof—that there were people in the world who didn’t judge.

It was when he knew that there was such a thing as a clean slate.


Kellin exhaled slowly, doing his utmost to keep all hints of shakiness out of his breath, and failing miserably. The crystal-blue eyes that stared deeply into his from the mirror were glistening with tears and rimmed in red; there were still traces around his eyelids of the black makeup that had adorned his face earlier. The rest had been scrubbed off with a winning formula of water, baby oil, and tears.

His hair was an absolute mess, a result of clutching it while crying hysterically, cat ears long abandoned in the corner of his and Vic’s bedroom along with the rest of that silly outfit. He was now dressed in the classic attire of one grieving in private: baggy sweatpants and an old T-shirt, both of which hung off of his willowy frame like a plastic bag clinging to a tree branch.

He could do nothing but stare at himself, confused and upset by what he saw; he’d done nothing else but study the person in the mirror for hours now, ever since he’d been driven home by a sympathetic Gabe. He reached a hesitant hand out to touch the glass, his fingertips met by cold, harsh smoothness; he was almost a little shocked that his reflection did the same.

He couldn’t figure out how he could still be Kellin Quinn after what he’d done.

After what he’d said.

He inhaled sharply as the words—those horrible, haunting, evil words—reverberated around his skull for what must be the hundredth time this evening.

“—getting into fights and putting my goddamn brother in the hospital—”

Kellin shuddered violently and collapsed against the sink, elbows resting on the cool marble counter. His long fingers tangled in his hair, knotting themselves among the dark locks, stiff and course from the amount of product he’d used in preparation for the party.

How could I be so cruel?

That was what was so confusing about the matter, at least for Kellin. Never, in all his twenty-three years of being alive, had he considered himself a fundamentally cruel person. In fact, up until now he thought he’d been doing relatively well in the virtue department. He wasn’t perfect, God no, but he’d done his best despite the circumstances. He grew up in a Christian home, after all; he knew how to treat others, even if he hadn’t necessarily been treated well himself.

But now . . . Now he didn’t know what to think about himself.

Yeah, Kellin had been in fights before, both with his past boyfriends and Vic. Yeah, he knew the pain and messiness that came with such conflict. And he knew that sometimes his anger could get a little out of control, and he’d resigned himself to work on it. But the things that had come spilling from between his lips during his encounter with his boyfriend earlier were on a whole other level than anything he’d considered himself capable of. They were beyond anything that he’d said to past lovers—maybe even worse than the things he’d said to his dad.

And to think. Those awful words that he’d spoken, some of the worst things that he’d ever said to anyone, had been directed at the person who meant more to him than anything.

He couldn’t explain it, not even to himself. If he’d been asked the day before whether he would ever intentionally hurt Vic, he would have considered the idea laughable. But now here he was, having done just that, having only a few hours before pulled from the depths of his mind anything that he thought would cause his boyfriend pain and hurtled them at him with all his might.

Apparently he was cruel. Crueler than anyone he’d ever had the displeasure of arguing with, anyway. Far crueler than Vic.

Kellin straightened up and looked at himself again, breathing deeply, anything to force himself to calm down. After making unbroken eye contact with his reflection for almost a whole minute, he leaned down to splash some cool water over his face.

You’re all right, Kellin. It’s all right.

But what if it wasn’t all right?

Kellin couldn’t remember many times in his life when he honest to goodness could not see a way out of whatever hellhole he’d dug himself into. He considered himself a pretty optimistic person, and even when things were rough—as they had often been throughout his childhood—most of the time he was able to glimpse a brighter future, a time when things would be better than they were now. A time when the pain could subside or even completely disappear.

However, now that Kellin had done what he had—now that he could foresee what was inevitably coming—he just wasn’t sure if he’d be able to cope.

He toweled his face dry gently, feeling a deep coldness in his heart that spoke of sorrow, dread, regret, longing, and a longer heartache than Kellin was ready to face. Refusing to let himself break down again, he took another few steadying breaths, gritting his teeth against the pain.

It’s all right. You’re all right. Lies. You’ll be okay, Kellin. Everything will be just—

Then he heard the sound of a key being fitted into the lock of the apartment’s front door. Kellin snapped his head up, eyes wide, his reflection mimicking his every movement perfectly, as the door opened and shut softly, the lock clicking once again and the jangle of keys being hung on a hook.

Kellin couldn’t help it. Tears filled his eyes once again as he heard them, those sounds that he’d gotten so used to hearing over the past three weeks of living together. Sounds that had always represented the completion of the household, the return of Kellin’s other half.

He shook himself and turned away from the mirror, resolutely snapping off the bathroom light and pulling the door open. He knew that he had to fix things, somehow; even if his fears were confirmed and he was unable to do anything to remedy the situation, at least he had to try.

He crept softly down the short hallway and paused at the entrance to the living room, peeking around the corner. Vic was sitting on the couch, which faced the wall opposite Kellin; his back was turned to the younger man, but even from this angle Kellin could see what a mess his boyfriend was. Vic’s hair was still lined with gray hairspray, but the product he’d used to form it into shape had all worn off somehow, causing his tresses to naturally fall and curl back to their natural state. He had discarded his suit jacket and his dress shirt was half-untucked, enhancing the disheveled appearance.

But worst of all were his mannerisms. Kellin had to restrain himself from running forth and throwing his arms around Vic when he saw the dejected posture of his boyfriend; he was hunched over, elbows on knees, calloused brown hands massaging his face. An audible sigh, laced with a defeated groan, emanated from him as he sat.

Kellin chose this moment to come forward, bare feet padding as softly as possible on the carpet; he knew that if he chickened out now, the consequences could be fatal. He approached the couch tentatively; Vic looked up as his significant other rounded the corner of the couch and hesitated a few feet away, rubbing one arm nervously.

Kellin felt fresh tears form in his eyes when he saw the remnants of the pain that he had caused evident on Vic’s features, but he swallowed them and croaked, “Hey.”

“Hi,” replied Vic in an equally rough voice. It seemed that they had both done their fair share of crying in the past few hours.

Each moment of silence measured in heartbeats seemed to last a lifetime. Kellin felt like someone was beating a drum on his ribcage as he completed the journey around the couch and sat down softly on the old leather, each movement calculated and tentative. Both looking and trying not to look at the miserable expression on the face he loved so much, Kellin felt the ridiculous urge to flee the room and hide away under the bed in shame.

The silence stretched on, wrapping the room and its occupants in increasing layers of tension as the time ticked away. It was almost suffocating, this silence. The apartment, usually so welcoming and warm, now felt like a place of hostility and discomfort.

They avoided each other’s gazes like a disease. Every movement that Kellin made felt like a crime.
After what was probably only a few minutes, though it felt like enough time for the morning sun to have risen, Kellin’s hoarse voice broke through the icy wall between the two men.

“Is this the end?”

Vic’s gaze was distant and fixed on some spot on the coffee table in front of him. “I don’t know.”
At that answer, and at the fact that nothing followed it—nothing to reassure Kellin, to give him a hint that maybe everything could work out—Kellin’s floodgates broke and the ridiculous amount of tears that he’d been trying to stem for however long began streaming once again. He tried to stop them, or at least hide the severity of his breakdown from Vic, but no such luck.

At the pitiful, choked sounds coming from beside him, Vic finally broke out of his daze; eyebrows knotting together, he turned and looked at Kellin confusedly. “Why are you crying?” he asked, the question far more perplexed than accusatory.

“I—” Kellin began, and had to cut himself off to sniff and futilely attempt to wipe his nose on the back of his hand.

He knew it was stupid. He knew that, of all the people in the room, he had the least amount of reasons to break down like this. But he couldn’t help it. “Because I hate this!” he finally managed to get out, the words slipping out uncontrollably. “I hate it so much. I hate the fact that soon you’re going to start packing your bags, and I’ll have to sit there and watch while you do it. I hate that I’ll probably end up living back with my mom, but it won’t be the same because every time I try to fall asleep at night I’ll think of the time you came to drop off my wallet, or the time that you came over to watch my brothers when I was sick. And I hate that we were just starting this new chapter together, or whatever—you know what I mean.” Kellin gestured vaguely at their surroundings, at the apartment that they’d only purchased a few weeks prior. “And we didn’t get enough time to appreciate it, not really. I just hate it, Vic. I hate that this is the end.”

Vic only stared for a few moments, as Kellin’s words dissolved into broken sobs that shook his slight frame as he buried his face in his hands. Kellin was pretty sure he had never felt so wretched in his life as he did right now, as the pain and loss already roiling through him like waves of freezing ocean water crashing down on his chest, again and again.

He really did hate that this was happening; he hated the dread of all of those things coming to pass.

Then, Vic’s voice: “Does it have to be the end?”

Kellin slowed in his hysterics, calming to an almost silence. Lifting his head, he made eye contact with Vic for the first time.

“Do . . . Do you want it to be?”

Vic shrugged a little. “Not really,” he said softly, and frowned. “Do you?”

Kellin shook his head slowly, not daring to tear his gaze away from those warm brown eyes that he’d come to know so well, and this time the silence only lasted for a few seconds before Vic swiftly stood up, retrieved the box of tissues from the side table, and returned, this time seating himself noticeably closer to Kellin and offering him the box. Kellin took a tissue gratefully, finally beginning to gain some control over himself as he blew his nose and dabbed at his poor, tired eyes that had been through so much in the past few hours.

When he had settled into a calm silence, barring the occasional hiccup, he asked in a congested, slightly shaky voice, “So, just to clarify . . . We’re not breaking up, then?” He resisted the urge to wince at the phrase “breaking up.”

“I don’t think so,” replied Vic a little apprehensively.

Kellin felt as though a heavy pressure that had been weighting down on his chest and stomach, suffocating him, squeezing the life out of his lungs, had been removed. He took in a deep breath and let it out gradually, relishing the sensation of the racing of his heart finally slowing to a steady, normal pace. “Thank God.”

“Mm-hmm,” agreed Vic, slipping a tentative arm over Kellin’s shoulders. When Kellin responded by allowing himself to fall into the warm embrace, clear relief splayed across his features, Vic placed a light kiss in his boyfriend’s hair.

The subsequent pause was significantly less heavy than it would have been ten minutes ago, but it was not without a certain degree of strain. Though he felt warm and comforted, at home again in Vic’s arms, Kellin couldn’t relax completely. Not when every time he closed his eyes, all he could see was the sight of Vic falling to his knees in emotional agony.

Kellin swallowed audibly and shifted, distancing himself enough from Vic to be able to meet his eyes. “I—” What could he possibly say to resolve the chaos he’d caused? What apology could do anything to atone for what he’d done? “You have to know that I didn’t mean what I said,” he said softly but firmly, a pleading note in his voice. “If I could do anything at all to take it back, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”

“I know,” replied Vic, pursing his lips anxiously before continuing, “The same goes for me. I— Well, this whole thing was really my fault. I shouldn’t have been so jealous, and even if I was I never should have called you—that.”

Kellin shook his head dismissively. “No, you were right. I really shouldn’t have gone out like that, it was dumb. And Jesse—” Kellin ducked his head, bringing his hands together to intertwine nervously. “I just—I guess I don’t always respect myself. Or you. Not like I should.”

Vic moved his hand idly along Kellin’s back, eventually trailing down to separate Kellin’s fidgeting fingers and grasp them firmly between his own. “Even so. I said some things that were way out of line, and I wish I hadn’t.”

“Not as bad as what I said.” Kellin shook his head, staring into his boyfriend’s eyes with a look of pure shame. “Please, Vic, understand that I would never, ever pass judgment on you. The past is the past and the only reason I brought it up was because I was so fucking pissed. I just said it because I knew it would hurt you, and it’s horrible, and—”

“And you think I called you a whore because I was expressing my honest opinion?” Vic raised an eyebrow. “Baby, I get it. I’m in the same boat. I was just mad and jealous and that’s the worst thing I could think to say.”

Kellin stared at Vic for a few moments, and then heaved a sigh and slumped down against the back of the couch. “So basically, we’re both really horrible people who don’t know how to shut the fuck up.”

“Pretty much.”

“Either we’re going to end up killing each other, or we are the most perfect couple in the universe,” muttered Kellin seriously, settling back into the cozy cocoon of Vic’s embrace.

Though this night had dragged on longer than either of them thought it should have, now as they sat on the old couch they’d bought at a yard sale because it was the first piece of furniture they saw, fitting together the way they knew that they did, they were in no hurry for this moment to end, despite the fact that it was way past their bedtime and Vic was still half-dressed as Mitt Romney. The ticking of the old clock that Vic’s parents had insisted they take as a piece of home for their new place reminded them at one-second interval that eventually this night would have to end.

Kellin’s fear that one day he might have to live without Vic had diminished vastly since the beginning of the conversation, but he noticed with some degree of discomfort that it had not disappeared completely. He wondered if it ever would, especially now that he knew that his relationship troubles were far from over. He was a realistic man and he knew as well as anyone that this was far from the last time he and Vic would tear each other apart, for nothing more than the sake of doing so. And who’s to say that it wouldn’t be too much for them one day? Who’s to say that the damage wouldn’t be permanent?

Then he noticed something—a rhythmic sound, almost in in harmony with the clock but not quite, against his head where it lay resting on his lover’s chest.

It was Vic’s heartbeat.

“I love you.” The words, though by now having been said too many times to count, fit into the empty space in the air just perfectly.

“I love you too,” said Vic, squeezing Kellin’s shoulder, his voice sounding much sleepier than the last time he’d spoken.

As long as that heart continues to beat, and mine along with it, we’ll be fine.

Kellin felt the paradox of broken wholeness settle into his heart, that heart that Vic had stitched together from whatever it had been before. He nuzzled his face into Vic’s shirt and closed his eyes, finally assured that there would be no more tears this night, and hoping silently that they could fall asleep on the couch like this.

No such luck. “I gotta wash this shit out of my hair,” Vic groaned. Kellin scrunched up his face as the older man gently extricated himself out from under his boyfriend and stretched his toned arms up towards the ceiling. “I’m gonna go take a quick shower.”

“Want me to come with?” offered Kellin, peering up at Vic from his place on the couch.

“No, but you’d better be wearing that cat outfit again by the time I get out.”

Kellin smiled, having no intention of changing out of a single article of clothing unless Vic were to do it for him, and buried his face in the pillows as he heard Vic head off to the bathroom. He fell asleep almost as soon as he heard the water being turned on, but not before the sound of Vic’s gentle voice humming a familiar tune floated through the air and into Kellin’s ears. He fell asleep smiling slightly, a little warmer than he’d been before.

His last thought before he fell into his own world of dreams was that, if at all possible, he would be perfectly happy to fall asleep to that sound every night for the rest of his life.
♠ ♠ ♠
There are so many things in this fic, I really don't know what to say.

Basically, I'm sorry if I offended anyone with my political references, my references to alcoholism, or my hatred of Jesse Lawson. I also apologize for this oneshot's ridiculous length. However, I will not apologize for dressing KellKell like a sexy kitty. I thoroughly enjoyed that image.

Comments are very much appreciated. Love you :)