Sensory Memory

Note: Slasha, Baby replacement fic for the lovely , who wanted “schmoopy first date, angst ok, must have happy ending”… Hope it’s what you’ve been hoping for, honey. : )
Beta: Many thanks to for giving this the once-over!


Sight
It’s the small things Dom remembers of their first real date. He remembers not so much how well-dressed Billy was in his dark slacks and light-green shirt, how beautiful -- although he definitely remembers that as well, with a catch of his breath when realizing that this was all for him -- but the way he smiled, eyes fixed on something else. Something that wasn’t Dom.

It worried him at first, the way Billy didn’t seem to be able to look at him, because Billy was one of those people that always keep eye contact when talking. Normally it was Dom who looked away first, who felt the weight of those green eyes get too heavy.

But then, in the cab to the restaurant, Billy peeked at him from under his lashes and grinned, a smile that was almost Pippin’s, it was so young and… shy, if Dom could bring himself to use this word in combination with William Boyd. Yet there it was, out in the open, for everyone to see. Except there was no one here but him, and Dom looked down to see Billy’s hand sneak over the drab fabric of the middle seat to cover his, fingers threading through each other until Dom could hardly tell them apart.

He remembers that Billy was still not looking at him, instead his eyes were fixed on the back of the driver’s seat – but Dom saw the smile on his face, more content than he had ever seen him before. It was a sight he hoped he would never forget.

Taste
Dom hardly remembers what they ate. Was it Italian? Chinese? Indian? Billy had chosen the restaurant, because they were in Glasgow and Billy enjoys his food. He can’t cook to save his life, but he loves to eat, and eat well. All the hobbits do, with the possible exception of Elijah, born and raised on pizza and Mac-and-Cheese.

So it must have been good – but Dom had been distracted, unable to pay attention to what he ate. Which was all Billy’s fault, of course.

Of this night, Dom only remembers the dessert clearly. Something sinful and chocolate-y, mouth-watering from the moment it was set on the table, and Billy had demanded they bring them tablespoons, so they could dig in properly. Dom had gone along with this, naturally, the way he always does, and the first big spoonful of dark, creamy chocolate, not too sweet and not too bitter, had flooded his tastebuds.

Dom closed his eyes, concentrating fully on the delicious treat that melted on his tongue. When he opened his eyes again, Billy was licking the last of the chocolate from his spoon ever so slowly and looking him straight in the eyes. Then he leaned over and his thumb brushed Dom’s mouth lightly, before he offered him the very last drop of chocolate mousse, glistening darkly on the pale skin of his finger. You forgot something, Dom!, he smiled, and Dom had swallowed and opened his mouth.

It had been the best thing Dom had ever eaten.

Hearing
There had been a pub afterwards, the one they go to whenever Dom is in town. It’s a cozy place, very British with dark wooden walls and leather benches, never too crowded and never too empty. That night a band was playing, some friends of Billy’s, and they sat down at the bar. Dom knows that Billy normally doesn’t like to talk when there’s music playing that he wants to hear. So he was quiet, and Billy started to tap along on the bar as soon as they were seated.

Then Billy began to sing along softly, his voice hardly audible over the din of the pub, and Dom strained to hear. He and Billy talk all the time, constant banter the background noise of their friendship, but Dom has never told Billy how much he loves to listen to him sing. As he leaned closer that night, resting his head against Billy’s shoulder and closing his eyes, the Billy’s voice was all he could hear. Maybe Billy had heard him, although he never said the words.

Dom doesn’t remember the song that was played, but he will never forget the rhythm of Billy’s slim fingers on the counter or the sound of his voice caressing him ever so softly.

Smell
Billy doesn’t like it when Dom smokes. Which is kind of ironic, because Billy smokes himself, every now and then – and, as Dom likes to point out, who of the two of them is the singer? Still, Dom usually doesn’t smoke when Billy’s around, except when Dom is drunk.

But the air at the pub hung heavy with smoke over the dark wood panels, and Billy was busy talking to his friends from the band, his back turned to Dom. Unable to suppress a surge of loneliness – what was he doing here in Scotland anyway? – Dom drained his beer and took out his pack of airport-bought Phillip Morrises, lighting them almost furtively. The smell of his own fag always seemed sweeter than that of others, and he inhaled with a sigh, letting the familiar smell comfort him.

When Billy turned back to him, Dom had seen disappointment in his eyes. Only a flash, then he wrinkled his nose. You don’t think I’ll kiss you smelling like an ashtray, do you?, he had asked, leaning in to sniff exaggeratedly at Dom, amusement dancing in his eyes when Dom threw the fag away as if it had burned him, crushing it under his heel decisively.

On the way back to Billy’s place, Dom buried his face in Billy’s neck and breathed in deeply. Ignoring cigarette smoke and beer, he let himself be invaded by Billy’s smell. Taking him home.

Touch
The night didn’t end there. On the contrary. Dom is left with a jumble of half-memories, of images, tastes, sounds, smells – impressions so intense he can’t fix them in his mind, can’t put them into order. What he does know is this: Billy’s touch -- tender and rough, hesitating and firm -- has taken him apart and put him back together in a way he doesn’t need to remember. Billy’s touch marked him, more than skin-deep.

So Dom remembers many things from their first date. But his favorite memory happened one day earlier, after Dom’s arrival from Hawaii. It was the tentative weight of Billy’s hand on Dom’s thigh one evening in Billy’s living room, the way their eyes met and any trace of jetlag left Dom -- in the moment right before their lips touched. For the first time.

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