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Title: Dawn on the Horizon
Fandom: The Traitor Game
Rating/Warnings: Bad language, PG-13
For: hs_bingo
A/N: FRANTICALLY POSTING, forgot to post!

“I got the letter from Kingston University,” Francis announced one day, apropos of nothing in particular. “I’m accepted.”

“Mmmrph-mph-mrmph!” Michael mumbled through a mouthful of ham and cheese. He swallowed. “I meant, congratulations.” He swallowed again, wishing he had something to drink.

“Thanks.” It sounded simple, but Francis was smiling the kind of real, quiet smile that Michael associated with perfect endpapers or gracefully illuminated pieces of prose. Michael glanced around the empty classroom as if one of its moldy, cobweb-coated corners could hold some actual enthusiasm for him to borrow, because he didn’t want to ruin the other boy’s mood.

“And you’re definitely going to go there, then?” he asked, rather stupidly. Shut up, he told himself. You’re being ridiculous. It’s not as if you could stop time or anything, and it’s better that he’s going someplace he wants to be, isn’t it?

“I think so, yeah,” Francis replied. “And you’re still planning on the Metropolitan University, right?”

“Probably,” Michael agreed. So at least they’d be close.

“That’s good.” Francis took another bite of his sandwich and wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand. Michael swallowed again, gripping the edge of the table.

“Francis. Do you think –” His voice cracked, of course. Why couldn’t he ever say anything without humiliating himself? “Do you think we could try to keep in touch?”

Francis almost dropped his sandwich. “You were thinking we wouldn’t?”

Michael glanced at his feet, feeling all kinds of warm and embarrassed. “Well, I mean, a lot of people lose track of each other in college. My mum doesn’t talk to anyone from her old high school anymore, and I don’t know who else would either, and – I guess I just thought it was sort of inevitable, that’s all.”

There was a sound of chewing, and of Francis’s foot scuffing along the battered linoleum. “My mum and dad met in high school,” he offered unexpectedly. “Not that I want to end up anything like them, of course. Ugh.”

Michael snorted. “Fuck, that would be awful. Raising a bunch of kids in this miserable place.”

“Yeah, I know.” The conversation felt forced, ground they’d covered a hundred times before. By this point Michael could tell when Francis wanted to say something in particular, so he waited, making his way through his sandwich as he did. He didn’t say anything when Francis took his hand, wrapping their fingers unmistakably together. It was a risk, but then, they wouldn’t be here for all that much longer.

“I was thinking,” Francis said, and Michael delivered his full attention. The other boy was looking at the ceiling as if there was some great secret hidden in the specked tiles and greenish-brown water stains. (There wasn’t. Michael had checked often enough.)

“Thinking what?” he prompted, since lunch was going to end fairly soon.

“Well. I was thinking, since we’d be near each other in college, we might get a flat together at some point. Not the first year, obviously, but after that.” He glanced at Michael and added quickly, “Lots of people do it. Roommates, and so on. Nobody would think anything about it.”

“But there’d be something to think about,” his voice shaking a little bit and his hand suddenly much tighter around Francis’s, and oh God that sounded horrible.

“Yes,” Francis said faux-steadily. “Probably.”

Michael thought about it, thought about a tiny one-bedroom place that smelled of cigarette smoke, full of beat-up furniture and their combined collections of books stacked all over and rubbish from junk shops that they thought looked cool, and walls covered with tacked-up sketches and taped-up maps covered in Francis’s polished writing and Michael’s cramped scrawl.

“I’d like that,” he said. Francis brushed his thumb over Michael’s knuckles, and Michael checked the door one last time and brushed a quick kiss against his lips.

It was a risk, a ridiculous risk, but everyone had at least an inkling by now, and they weren’t going to be stuck here for very much longer.

Date: 2011-01-06 05:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] inktrap.livejournal.com
“Francis. Do you think –” His voice cracked, of course. Why couldn’t he ever say anything without humiliating himself? “Do you think we could try to keep in touch?”

Oh, Michael. I loved this piece. That voice! You got Michael's voice so perfectly, it's almost like reading the book itself. His hesitation is all in the right places, the stops, the questions he asks! He's still giving such careful steps, but he's going forwards, nonetheless. And his image of their flat!! I loved it, really. It's just like him to keep… imagining things, and how they could have been. I'm glad that he's imagining how things can be now.

Date: 2011-01-06 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sour-idealist.livejournal.com
Oh my God, thank you so much. Michael's voice - I'm so glad you liked it, that it felt right to you. Thank you. It's always interesting trying to find a balance with the ways he'd grow and move forward and the things, good and bad, that wouldn't change. I'd imagine his tendency to imagine and assume worst-case scenarios is probably going to be a lifelong flaw, for example.

And the flat is sort of my favorite part of this. It is basically a glimpse of everything I want for them. It's so good to know that clicked with someone else.

Again, and I cannot say this enough, thank you.

Date: 2011-05-17 05:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coffe-please.livejournal.com
I'm trying very hard to resist the urge to key-smash at you right now, just saying. I just. This is just so them. So in character, and the hope in this piece is just so tangible and it actually feels... safe to hope for them. This fic makes me feel like they're going to get their well-deserved happy ending. ♥

Date: 2011-05-17 08:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sour-idealist.livejournal.com
*blush* Thank you, so much. I actually didn't feel like I got them quite right in this, so hearing you say I did means a ton to me, and I just... thank you. ALL THE HAPPY ENDINGS FOR MY BOYS, basically.

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August 2012

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