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So Much More Than You've Been

by girl-wonder

[Story Headers]

Christian held his hand up to the light and looked at the ocean through the spaces between his fingers. "Do you ever wonder if this was how it was supposed to be all along?"

Sean got up from the bed, gathering the sheet around his waist, like the most modest of Christian's girlfriends. "No," he said. "It was never supposed to be like this."

Smiling tightly, ironically, Christian said, "Well, you never could figure what was right anyway."

"This isn't," Sean said over his shoulder. From inside the bathroom, his voice echoed, "I know that."

"You said that you'd stop coming here," Sean's moving lips were hidden by the folder he held in front of him. "You promised, Christian."

"I want you to give something to Julia for me." In front of the fish tank, Christian looked relaxed, leaning back on his heels. His jacket and shirt were unbuttoned, and he twiddled his fingers in front of the angel fish. Sean stared: Christian had always had amazing hands.

"What," he asked flatly.

Tapping silently on the glass, Christian said, "A journal for my son. It's in my desk."

Sean didn't move, staring at the file in front of him. "My son."

Shrugging carelessly, Christian said, "Our son. I started it for Wilbur."

"When is she coming?"

Christian didn't hesitate, "She's two blocks away. You should tell her to get a boob job while she's under."

Snapping his head to stare, Sean asked, horrified, "Julia?"

"Your patient. Sara Something. No one will ever want her without breasts." Christian was wearing his bored, practical expression. Sean remembered it from all the times that Christian wanted to deliver something devastating as cruelly as possible.

"You don't have breasts," Sean pointed out. He cocked his head slightly, wondering if Christian was even paying attention.

Even from the back, Sean could tell Christian was wearing his bitterest of smiles. "And no one ever wanted me."

"I'm sure any of your girlfriends would be able to tell you that that's wrong," Sean had turned back to the file, wondering if Sara would take the reduced price breast job if he offered it to her. Probably, Christian was usually right when it came to women's self-confidence.

By the time that Christian responded, Sean's client was walking in the door. Sean rose and smiled, his gaze flickering to Christian. Sara glanced over her shoulder towards him, too.

"None of them wanted to love me," Christian said. "I'll let myself out."

The journal was a small leather book. Its first few pages were filled with medical information, as much Christian knew about his birth parents and anything that he knew about himself. Later it digressed into advice about cars and jobs and school and love. The last entry had not been finished, just the date and the word "Remember" had been written.

Julia gripped it hard when he gave it to her. Her knuckles white, she said, "How did you find it?" Implied was, "Are you already cleaning out his desk?"

"I was looking for an old file," Sean shrugged. "I thought Matt might want it."

At home, Christian was sitting on the couch, in front of an old glass of white wine. Sean ignored him.

"Do you still love me?"

The Chinese food was almost recent, or almost edible. Sean put it on a plate and dropped it into the microwave. "Of course."

"Would you love me if I weren't..." Christian gestured to himself.

"You know I would."

"But not like this." His voice was bitter, like everything about him now.

Taking the plate out of the microwave, Sean sat at the kitchen table. "Like what?"

"Would you fuck me if I wasn't..."

"Probably not." The chow mein tasted odd, but Sean added more soy sauce and promised that he would buy real groceries soon. On the couch, Christian was silent.

Julia said that he needed to get out more. He pointed out that he went to the office every day, that was nine hours of out.

"She's dating some new guy," Christian explained.

"What happened to the other one?" Sean tried adding more cumin, but that made the taste worse.

"They broke up. The new one's great, though. He's teaching Matt how to ride a motorcycle." Christian watched the news with a bored resignation. Without looking up, he answered Sean's expression. "I saw them the other day."

"I thought you were only stalking Julia," Sean gave up and turned off the burner. The phone number for pizza was already programmed into his phone anyway.

"Pizza Palace," the voice said.

"It was near her place," Christian responded. "And I prefer, 'haunting.'"

"Ask her if she's changed her conditioner," Christian said. "And tell her that you want to know if she has that bottle opener."

Glancing up, Sean said, "We got through eighteen years of marriage without your coaching, I'm sure we can manage lunch."

"Barely," Christian corrected, "You barely got through all that marriage."

When Julia came in, he stared at her legs: she was wearing a summer dress.

Before, Christian never touched Julia like this, in front of Sean. Now, he touched her everywhere. He put his hand on her lower back when she stood in front of Sean's desk. He rested his head on her bare neck when she pulled her hair back tight in a bun. Once, Sean saw him lean down and kiss the place where her hair touched her neck.

Sean wanted to warn her, but didn't.

Instead he said, "Have you changed your conditioner?"

She looked startled and frowned, "Sean, are you ok?"

Behind her, Christian ran his fingers down her spine.

It was much more of a Christian toy, the game system. Matt loved it.

Christian coached Sean through the first level. "The small red button, Sean. It's not that hard."

Afterwards, Matt was laughing. Sean was so much better than he thought that he would be, he had to have had help.

When he looked around for Christian after Matt left to go back, Sean couldn't find him. It wasn't surprising, for all of the time that Christian spent with Sean, there were the hours that he spent with Julia, alone.

Most days, Sean was relieved by the absence. Still, when Christian walked into the living room, casually throwing his jacket over the back of a couch and just as casually dropping into the seat.

"How is Julia?" Sean asked.

"Fine, she was cleaning and then she made lunch." These were the details of her life that Sean didn't share anymore and the thought that Christian didn't really share them either didn't make Sean feel any better. "She changed her lipstick."

If Sean had asked, Christian could have recited everything about her, her hairstyle her clothes, her makeup, her scent. Sean wondered if he could know the last without checking her dresser top.

"It's more red," Christian said in the distant way he always did after visiting Julia. It was the only time he didn't sound bitter. "Would you tell her that it looks better?"

Sean slouched lower on the couch and rested his head uncomfortably on the arm rest. They knew he would.

Tuesday, he ate out and met a pretty girl. Christian was at home when he got back, and stared at him accusingly as though Sean had been the one to break faith.

When he left, Sean almost waited for a door slam before he realized it wouldn't come. Even before, that would have been unlike Christian, whose scenes were always to your face. It was Matt who would have slammed a door to show anger, Julia who would have cried.

Christian, though, would have yelled and argued and made Sean want to argue his point just as badly because how else was he going to make sense of his own decision. The silence, then, probably just meant Christian needed time to think about it all. About what this nothing could mean.

Sean didn't call the girl back. Not that he would have, anyway.

"Look, I don't mean to be rude, but I was very helpful to the detectives before and then..."

She stared him through the pause, not giving up when he refused to finish the sentence. "I just want to know some facts about the treatments that you are giving to the victims."

"Used to give," Sean corrected. "I don't anymore, so I don't know how anything I said could be useful to the case."

"Used to give," she allowed. "Did you know that the Carver rapes all of his victims?"

Picking up his briefcase, Sean stood and took the two steps to the door. "I don't need to know this," he said.

"It's not sexual, really," the detective continued. Her accent made the words seem cold and distant, which was probably what she wanted. "Don't you want to know who raped your partner?"

Sean shivered when he stepped out the door.

"I find that men always seem to see the rape of another man as worse than any other sin," she said, following him to the elevator.

Sean said, "I don't know anything about what happened to Christian."

Liz said his name three times, but he wasn't sure it wasn't Christian imitating her, so he didn't respond the first two times.

"Sean." He looked up and she said, "Are you sleeping?"

"No." Wincing, he went back to writing.

"Well, you look like shit. And I gotta tell you, Sean, it's not helping business." Somewhere there was a censure and whether it was for not sleeping or dragging the business down with him, he couldn't tell.

"I just can't sleep, Liz."

"Look, here's the number that my doctor gave me after the baby," she put it down on his desk, seven digits scrawled on their old prescription pads. Those were the first things to be reordered new afterwards, a new name in the upper right hand corner.

"A grief counselor?" Sean wasn't surprised that everyone thought it was grief under his tightly wrapped cloak of guilt and shame. It wasn't, though, and he knew he would go anyway because it was expected. This was what you were supposed to do after something like this happened to someone else.

"You're driving me insane," Sean said.

"Yeah. I'm sorry." Christian didn't sound very convinced by himself.

"You're not."

No one said anything and when Sean looked up, Christian was gone.

You were gone, Sean planned to say. Where did you go? Why did you go? Are you gone for good? Please, come back.

Christian came back, "God, did you shower at all in the past week?"

"Don't leave me," Sean said.

Crouching in front of him, Christian ran his thumb between Sean's eyebrows. "It'll be ok, Sean."

He tried it out on the psychologist, a thirty year old who had probably never lost anything more than a shoe in her whole life. She wore black rimmed stylish glasses, and pale pink lipstick that was probably supposed to look professional. It clashed with her burgundy blouse, which tried to make her look professional, too.

Behind her, there were all of the diplomas that Sean knew for a fact everyone put up to make people feel safe, feel comforted. Everyone wanted to know that they were in competent hands. She was wearing lipstick that clashed with her blouse and she looked too young to even begin to know what he meant when he said, "I love him," so Sean tried it out.

"I think that he's still around," Sean tried.

The Psychologist, Margaret, who probably still went by Meg or Maggie in her private life smiled encouragingly.

"That's a weak statement, even for you," Christian said. He was examining the diplomas on the wall and snorted. "She's from California, of course. Tell her about the haunting," he said, suddenly, eagerly.

"I love him," Sean said. Christian stopped mocking and walked out of the room.

Christian held his fingers up to the light and Sean could see the ocean through his hand. "Do you ever wonder if this is how we're supposed to be?"

Sean lay in bed and stared at the ceiling. "No," he said. "You weren't supposed to be the one who..."

Smiling tightly, Christian said, "It wouldn't have been any better if it had been you."

"It would," Sean said.

Shrugging, Christian turned back to the bed, "Maybe."


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Fandom:  Other (Nip/Tuck)
Title:  So Much More Than You've Been
Author:  girl-wonder   [email]   [website]
Details:  Standalone  |  PG-13  |  *slash*  |  11k  |  10/01/05
Characters:  Sean, Christian
Pairings:  Sean/Christian, Christian/Julia
Summary:  He prefers the term 'haunting.'
Notes:  AU from the end of season 2.
Disclaimer/Other:  I don't own the characters.

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