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Disclaimer: This is a non-commercial, non-profit work of fiction under the names and likenesses of real individuals. This fictional story is not intended to imply that the events herein actually occurred, or that the attitudes or behaviors described are engaged or condoned by the persons whose names are used without permission.


Author: almaviva
Original Story: The Brave Moment (1/2 and 2/2) by vensre
Pairing: Billy/Dom, Billy/Ali
Rating: R
Summary: The other side of the story.



Christian moved out just past noon on Sunday, and Ali spent the rest of the day tossing out whatever he had left behind--the year's worth of Sunday magazines, a shirt she'd bought him for his birthday, his collection of matchbooks that was less collection and more a scrapbook of the places they'd been and the times they'd had--before she spent two hours scrubbing down the bathroom. She wasn't sure why that had been her first action nearly the moment the door had closed, but it had helped in some weird, intangible, inexplicable way. She cried while she scoured the sink of the tiny hairs he'd left that morning as he'd shaved. They'd always driven her mad, clinging to the bowl when she bent to brush her teeth, cemented there by his shaving creme. There would be no more of that, and the thought had made her cry harder before she sank to floor and laughed until she ached. It was a ridiculous thing to cry over, and he had been a ridiculous man.

On Monday night, things got a bit easier sooner than she thought they might. She rearranged the bedroom furniture, moving the bed opposite the window so the sun would wake her. On Tuesday, she bought new curtains for the kitchen, white with yellow ribbons. By Wednesday, she realized she was already back to sprawling in the middle of the bed. Thursday, she discovered she didn't actually miss his presence--the way he would dig his elbow into her back when she slept or the way he would grab her breasts when he came, as if they were knobs on a stove. She couldn't imagine why she had cried when he'd said he was leaving. By Friday, she was out with friends and not friends and some almost more than friends.

Those had been her plans, dinner and dancing--an "I'm Free" party, she'd said, and invited everyone she knew. She had dressed carefully, reaching into the back of her closet for something she hadn't worn in a while, and had come up with a skirt that mostly fit and twirled around her knees when she moved. In front of her mirror, she had smoothed her hands over her hips, not minding that the material clung to her thighs, showing off her muscles--showing how strong she was. She'd chosen a pair of tall, strappy black sandals and considered, only half seriously, going in just her black push-up bra but had settled for something sparkly beneath her leather jacket. When she'd stepped out the door, she knew her lipstick was too dark and her hair was too wild, and she hadn't cared. Or rather, she had cared, but she'd also liked it, and laughed with her mouth wide open as first one girlfriend then another tumbled into her tiny hatchback.

"Cheryl, Roxanne, Billy, Mike, Andrew--where's Andrew--Christine, Tom, Katie and Cheryl. I've already said Cheryl. I meant Shannon. My nine closest friends." Three hours later and Ali stood, swaying a bit, smiling down at Billy when he put a steadying hand to her arm. "Billy, good god. Where have you been? I haven't seen you in ages."

"New Zealand."

"No wonder. The other side of the world." The ice and fizzy pink liquor tipped precariously towards the edge of the glass Ali held as she gestured wildly. She wasn't nearly as drunk as she had planned to be by now. Her thoughts were still clear, clear enough to know she was being brash and loud and not yet drunk enough to think herself witty. She lifted her chin against the warmth in Billy's eyes so that she could stop believing he could see right through her. She had the bizarre urge to tell him that she hadn't actually loved Christian at all, that she had just been tired of dating. Instead, she swayed away from him, her voice loud in an attempt to drown out the noise in her head that three Cosmopolitans had failed to silence. "Billy's been to New Zealand, everyone, while I've had my very soul leached from my body by Christian, god love 'im."

"Here, here," Cheryl said, pounding her fist on the table and making the glasses rattle.

"He left me, Billy, which is why we've all gathered here tonight; thank you for coming all the way from New Zealand. He left me, the turd, when I was just about to break up with him first."

"You've been saying that for a month," Andrew said, setting down a bottle and sliding into his chair across from Ali. She closed her eyes and pursed her lips, raising her eyebrows.

"Let her have her speech, Andy."

"Yes. Let me finish. Where was I?"

"You were leaving him first," Billy said, and Ali couldn't help but look back down in to his eyes telling her we don't always get what we want and sometimes settling is good enough.

"Yes. Leaving him first." The club was loud but her table was deadly quiet. She knew the others were looking at her with pity or sympathy, and she wanted to tug at her skirt and tidy her hair, but then whatever had been between Billy and her was gone and his face smoothed out, looking young and blank if beautiful. Ali twisted her neck and shrugged her shoulders, tossing off the burden that neither she nor Billy wanted to hold onto, and lifted her drink again, sipping the icy remains before slamming it back onto the table, the noise an endmark to the moment of awkwardness . "I would have, too. I would have left first, only it was hard to do because I wanted to keep the flat. It was his, you know. It looks lovely now; you should all come by to see. I've hung curtains."

"To curtains." Andrew was the first to raise his bottle but the rest followed, clinking their glasses together and each with Ali's. Somehow Billy had come to hold onto her hand, and she couldn't remember when that happened, and so she decided that maybe she was drunker than she thought. "So tonight, I'm going to get drunk and smoke and dance."

By the time Ali led Billy onto the dance floor, she was well and truly drunk; she made sure she danced with everyone else first. Billy wasn't drunk but melancholy, which was almost worse, Ali thought. She could see he was lost to his own thoughts--distracted and distant, his head down on the table when she'd slid up behind him and returned the favor of earlier. Love the one you're with, her eyes said, and he'd nodded as if he understood. He stood a few inches shorter than Ali and they both looked down as if there could be some explanation other than genetics. Stretching out her leg to show Billy her heels, Ali noticed a snag in her stocking, a ladder climbing up and beneath the hem of her skirt, and she tipped back her head and laughed out loud. Of course. "Dammit," she said, her voice catching oddly. "My last pair."

Billy tilted his head sideways to look at Ali's leg and she straightened it, pointing her toe. She let go of his hand to raise her skirt dangerously, tilting her head to capture his eyes again.

"Can't you do something?" Billy asked. "Varnish, I think Maggie does."

"Your sister?" She asked, confirming.


"They're wrecked. Left in ruins. If I was more of a lady, I'd slip away and take them off." Ali took his hand again and guided it to rest on her hip before she moved closer. The song changed two or three times, the live band only just warming to the crowd, and by the time their set moved onto something less bone jarring, Ali forgot to think about much more than Billy's green eyes and the patch of warm skin and chest hair peeking from beneath the V of his black button-down shirt. She led with her hips and Billy let her, only drawing back when Ali would move closer, wanting more than to drink and smoke and dance.

"I have a cold," Billy said, holding his hand up to warn her off.

"So share."

I like you, she let her kiss say but couldn't understand his response, the translation lost to the hand on her back and his slight hesitation before he leaned in, too, and she decided he meant I like you, too. It wasn't love at the first kiss, not even close. It was nice. It was strangely comforting. It was more than she'd had in a long time, and she didn't regret it for a minute when she invited him home. Even after the hesitation she saw in his eyes and felt in his second and third kisses It didn't matter. He could be the rebound guy, and everyone knows they don't count.


"I love you. No, I'm in--"

Ali stood in the doorway to their shared living room, a dish towel hanging limply in her hand, and watched as Billy retreated to the window. His shoulders were tensed and his hands curled into fists. He looked more like he was preparing for battle than making declarations. Love. They'd been together for nearly a year, and she hadn't thought about it really--how she felt about Billy or how he felt about her--and even hearing him say it out loud made her cock her head to the side as if listening to some half-remembered song playing in the next room. How did it go, being in love? Did she love him? She had prepared herself not to for so long that the thought was a novelty, one she decided she wasn't ready to think about.

"Hey," she said, just to let him know she was there.

Billy whipped around, a blush blossoming over his throat and coloring the tips of his ears. Ali slung the towel over her shoulder then slipped her hands into the pockets of her jeans and smiled and waited for the actor to return. Sometimes she liked Billy better when he was pretending, and he was nearly always pretending. The real Billy was someone she couldn't begin to understand, and when she caught sight of him--like now, running his lines, she thought--she didn't know quite what to do with him.

"Your friend called. Dom," she clarified, though it was unnecessary. "He left a message," she said, hooking her thumb towards the small room off the kitchen that Billy used as his office, and the answering machine with its still blinking light.

"Oh?" Billy's eyes moved to his mobile left lying on the table as if it had offended him. Ali looked from his pinched face to his phone and then his back as he turned again to look out the window. "When did he call?"

"This morning, while you were out. I was in the shower." Ali stopped talking and leaned her shoulder against the door frame, wondering why she didn't feel welcome to come any closer. Wondering why she felt the need to justify missing the call. "I didn't hear it ring," she continued, fighting against the strange creeping crawl of fear. Fear of what?

"What did he say? Did he say where he was?"

There was something too casual about the way Billy said it, and alarms went off in Ali's head--sirens and bells, a big sign flashing "danger." She was reminded of the one time Dominic had come to Glasgow and they'd all gone out to dinner together and she'd watched the Dom and Billy show performed live. In between the laughs and the drinks, she'd caught herself thinking, I wish someone would look at me like that, and hadn't even been sure which someone she was talking about. It was ridiculous. Billy was with her, and it was Dom they were talking about, not some chick that Ali needed to compete against. She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders. Dom's message had been nonsense to her, all inside jokes and innuendo. "I didn't listen to it all the way." She had, three times.

"I'll, ehm. Later."

"Okay," she said, and waited because really, what more was there to say. Still, something kept her standing in the doorway, watching Billy's back. "Is there something going on, Billy?"

Billy turned towards her, caught, and Ali could read the distress on his face. She searched for some quip but all she could think was Oh, no and the creeping crawl of fear turning into full blown panic. I'm not really that into him, except she was. She realized in that moment that not only was she into him, she was also in love with him. "I mean," Oh god, what do I mean. "When I came in."

"I was just thinking. I was just. I love this," Billy finally said, his face smoothed out, looking young and blank if beautiful, and he took a step forward. Ali still hesitated at the approach, her breaths shallow even as she fixed a smile on her face. She stood still, frozen, as Billy crossed the boards and finally found his mark. "I love us together," he said and then kissed her, pulled her close and she let herself go. But are you in love with me, she wanted to ask but didn't. He was the rebound guy. A year later, she still thought of him as a loaner.


It's Auld Year's Night and Ali stands in front of the bathroom mirror holding a tube of lipstick just in front of her lips. Billy had left on Friday night, called a cab rather than letting Ali take him to the airport. They had kissed but she'd known he was already gone in his mind, surfing in warm Hawaiian waves. He had asked again if she minded and she'd shaken her head, too afraid of what would come from her mouth if she spoke.

She had loved him, was in love with him, but she'd known by that magical intuition that while he was fond of her, had a certain sort of affection towards her, she was just a placeholder.

She knew there would come a day when he would leave just before noon on a Sunday and she would spend that night tossing out whatever he had left behind--the misshapen Hobbit ear, the guitar picks, the collection of '80s New Wave cassettes--and then scrub down the bathroom. She would cry while she scoured the sink. Cry while she got down on hands and knees to scrub the grout around the tub. Cry as she sagged against the wall and told herself to get it together. That night, however, she put her lipstick on a little too dark, wore her clothes a little too tight, and gathered her friends to drink and dance.


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