El Scorcho (twbasketcase) wrote,
El Scorcho
twbasketcase

Fic: Our Last Memory 23/23 - Complete

Category: X-Factor (Volume 3)
Characters: Rictor, Shatterstar, Longshot, Dazzler, Siryn, Domino, X-Factor, Skids, Spiral, and Doc Samson.
Pairings: Rictor/Shatterstar, Longshot/Dazzler
Genre: AU, drama, romance, angst, humor.
Rated: NC-17 for extreme violence, language, and sexual situations.
Disclaimer: I don’t own a thing. I just play in the world of those who can't appreciate.
Story Summary: When X-Factor gets help in defeating Arcade, they get a new member of the team, Longshot. But in return for his assistance, Longshot needs some help with his own problems -- on Mojoworld. What they find there opens up a whole pile of old wounds for other members of the team, and they learn that sometimes memories are all that are left to hold onto.

Chapter Summary: The boys have one more thing left to decide, and they go to a familiar face to figure it all out.

Chapters: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty, Twenty-One, Twenty-Two.
Prequel Pieces: One, Two, Three, Four.
Extra Scenes: Chap 9, Chap 14, Chap 16.

A/N: Well, that's all she wrote! I guess I'm done having writer's block quickly because...well I'm not sick anymore and that probably had everything to do with it. XD So I would've had this up sooner, but I was too busy sulking. And re-watching Doctor Who AGAIN because I just need so much cheese in my life all the time. But anyways, I hate endings. They're kinda hard and they're kinda sad...well, sometimes happy, but I'll miss writing this. I had fun with it, and I hope everyone enjoyed it. Thanks to everyone who read and commented, it is always appreciated. So now I should shut up, eh? :D I'm done, I'm done. Hope you like it!
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“Well this is a surprise,” Doc Samson leaned back in his chair and grinned amusedly. “I’m guessing either everything is peachy keen or things aren’t going too well. Either way…it’s not everyday I get a two for one special.”

Ric snorted humourlessly. “Is it a two for one special if we have to pay?”

Shatterstar rolled his eyes. “It doesn’t even come out of your pocket funds.”

Samson eyed the two men before organizing his folders and sighing. “Okay then, I guess things didn’t go as planned, huh?”

“Things are fine. We just figured we would save some time and perhaps solve a few leftover issues,” Shatterstar rubbed his chin and fiddled around with a few of the chess pieces on the board in front of him. “Why, do you have a problem with having both of us at the same time?”

“Not at all,” Samson replied. He nodded down at the board. “Do you play?”

“I think so,” Shatterstar furrowed his eyebrows. “I think I would need a reminder though.”

“Memories are still tricky then, I’m assuming?”

“A little bit.”

“What about you, Rictor?”

“Do I play chess?” the Mexican clarified, looking a little disinterested.

“No, how are you holding up?” Samson corrected. “It’s been almost a week since I saw you last, and, from what I hear, a lot has gone on.”

Rictor leaned against the side of the sofa and dropped his chin into his hand in a bored fashion. “I’m fine. Some old friends stopped by, we travelled to another dimension, we fought some aliens, and then I got kidnapped. Same shit, different day.”

“You got kidnapped again?” the doctor leaned forward and folded his hands on his desk. “Were you hurt?”

Julio rolled his eyes. “No, I wasn’t hurt. Everybody keeps freaking asking me that. They only got me ‘cause I was the easy target, güey. I was too slow, or something. Whatever, I still got away, so the joke’s on them.”

“What do you mean by you were ‘the easy target’?”

Rictor kept his gaze away from both the doctor and Shatterstar as he shrugged and stared down at the table in front of him. “You know, ‘cause I’m a sap. And…‘cause I was just trying to save Dazzler. They caught me off guard.”

"A ‘sap’? I’m assuming you’re referring to not having any powers?” Samson nibbled on the tip of his pen as he watched him.

“Yeah, they call the former mutants saps. It supposed to be a short form for sapien – like a homo sapien.”

“So you’re convinced the aliens only kidnapped you because they were taking advantage of the fact that you have no powers?” Samson inquired as he studied him. “Yet you went full into a fight on a war torn planet knowing you had no such defences?”

“He had defences,” Shatterstar spoke up and stared at Rictor. “He had weapons and he had team mates to defend him. They just got ambushed. I believe he is making unnecessary excuses.”

“Unnecessary?” Rictor narrowed his eyes.

“You don’t need to make excuses. Even I got ambushed by the Protectorate,” Shatterstar pointed out, and went back to repositioning the chess pieces as he tried to remember the basics of the game. “You don’t give yourself enough credit.”

“Easy for you to say; you still have your powers!”

“I rarely even use them,” the Mojoworlder rolled his eyes.

“Do you resent that?” Samson asked suddenly, and it made Rictor whip his head around to glare at him. The green haired man did not seem fazed by the look, however. “It sounds like that bothers you.”

"I don’t resent that,” Julio murmured. “I’m always around people who still have their powers.”

“So you just feel the need to remind everyone that you lost yours?” the doctor questioned.

“No, I’m just…” he trailed off quietly and dropped his hands into his lap.

“Feeling a little insecure about the fact that your mission didn’t go the way you wanted it to? I get the feeling you may be feeling as though it’s a threat to your masculinity, perhaps because Shatterstar was involved?”

“That’s not a threat to my masculinity,” Rictor scoffed.

“It’s okay to feel insecure. A person in your situation would do so considering you’d feel as though you’re lacking something in fight so important.”

“Yeah, I’d say I was lacking a big something.”

Samson eyed Shatterstar. “How do you feel about his power loss?”

“Why does it matter?” the Mojoworlder questioned carefully.

“Sometimes people get insecure because they worry about other people’s opinions about them. I’m just curious; if you don’t want to answer the question then you don’t have to,” Samson glanced between the two men quickly. “Anything you don’t want to answer in front of one another is fine.”

“Whatever,” Rictor scoffed.

Shatterstar just shrugged though. “I do not feel as though that is something to be insecure about. On my home world, not many people are equipped with mutant powers or special abilities. We have been on two missions together since I have returned from Mojoworld and in both scenarios Rictor fought fearlessly without powers. It is a fighting spirit that makes a warrior, and that is not something to be ashamed of.” Shatterstar paused and glanced over at Rictor fondly. “To be honest, Julio, I do not really have any recollection of you using your abilities in a fighting situation. I can only ever remember you fighting with your fists.”

“You don’t remember them at all?” Rictor asked curiously, as he finally turned to look at him.

“Well I remember something that you did with them…” ‘Star trailed off awkwardly and cleared his throat. “I, uhm, just don’t remember you fighting with them.”

Rictor cheeks reddened slightly and both men turned to face forward again. Samson watched them amusedly as he twirled his pen through his fingers. “Care to elaborate?” 

“No, that’s okay,” the Mexican quickly cut in. “I don’t think it’s any of your business what I used to do with my vibe blasts, thanks.”

Samson nodded and stifled his laugh. “Hey, I get paid for talking, Ric. I had to ask just in case.”

“That is all I remember,” Shatterstar ignored them both and continued on. “But because of that I cannot base my feelings on his power loss accurately. Because of my lost memories, the only thing that changed is that he used to shake. That’s a strange thing to remember, I think, but I recall distinctly in a few of my memories that his body used to shake just very slightly. When I touched him – even just his hand – I could feel it.”

Samson moved his gaze back to Rictor. “Does that make you feel any better?”

“A little. At the same time though it’s just really weird that he doesn’t remember something that’s always on my mind. Everyday I think about it, and he doesn’t look at that at all,” Julio glanced at ‘Star and his lips quirked up slightly. “Probably for the better, huh?”

“Maybe,” Shatterstar shrugged. “You do fight very well without them though, Rictor. Even when we just trained together those few times at your headquarters, you were very able to catch on to moves I was going to make before I was even going to make them.”

“That’s got more to do with the fact that we’ve been training and fightin’ together a long time, amigo. That’s familiarity, not just skill.”

“That’s still quite impressive,” the warrior replied confidently.

“Therefore it would appear as though your insecurities about your abilities are a little unfounded,” Samson concluded. “I think if you tried to focus on the abilities you do still have – your combat skills, your technological abilities, and even your strategies and tactics – you’d be able to build on your confidence, namely where it pertains to your power loss.”

“Maybe,” Rictor shrugged. “It’s not really that easy. Losing my powers was like-- like if someone lost the ability to see, or hear, or walk.”

“It takes time,” Samson reminded him.

“I sometimes feel similar ways when I can’t remember things,” Shatterstar told him, not taking his eyes off the Mexican. “I get frustrated because I feel as though I am insufficient in areas that others are not. They know all these things that happened to me in my life, and they are things that I cannot remember. It was worse where it pertains to important events and lessons; I get strange feelings as though I am some stupid child that has to relearn such simple things.”

“You shouldn’t feel that way though,” Rictor told him. “It’s not your fault that you don’t remember – and that definitely doesn’t make you insufficient at anything.”

“Same with your powers,” Shatterstar countered. “That was not your fault either.”

“Sounds to me that the two of you can relate to your losses a little better than you thought,” the green haired doctor smiled slightly. “Of course it’s two different circumstances, but perhaps you guys are more on the same level here than you originally assumed. If you’d just open up to each other and communicate about the way you feel about these losses, it might help that there’s someone who can understand. It’s possible that doing so can even help as a form of therapy.”

“Yeah, just get us talkin’. Real easy,” Rictor scoffed.

“Well it looks to me like the two of you are in a much more comfortable position in terms of sharing things than you were the last time I saw you,” Samson pointed out. “You haven’t said a thing about it, but I think it’s safe to assume that you’ve reached some sort of progress in your romantic relationship?”

“That doesn’t always make talking easier. Sometimes that’s harder ‘cause there’s more on the line,” Rictor pointed out.

“I will talk if he asks me to,” Shatterstar offered with a shrug.

“I don’t think I have to remind you that being open is quite important for a relationship to work,” Samson sighed and scrawled a few notes down in the folder in front of him. “You guys were involved long enough the first time that you had to have been doing something right.”

“Well, of course,” Rictor shook his head in an annoyed fashion. “Times are just different now, is all. We’re in different places and after everything that’s happened it’d be impossible to pick right back up where we left off.”

“No, you’ll have to work your way back to that point. Your personal matters are going to have to come first though. You’re always going to have problems to sort out individually, of course, but in order to learn and grow together you’re going to have to accept that you have to learn and grow independently as well,” the doctor ran a hand through his hair and folded his arms over his massive chest. “Not only does that include both your power and memory losses, respectively, but that also includes your emotional and psychological well being, as well as your sexual statuses. I don’t think I need to remind either of you that you both had some concerns in that area that you really need to look into.”

Shatterstar glanced at Rictor and frowned. “You have concerns?”

“No,” Julio shrugged and stared forward at Samson.

“Would you prefer to talk about that alone?” the green haired man questioned the Mexican.

“My sexual abilities are fine!” he quickly defended.

“I was referring to your bisexuality,” Samson gently corrected him.

“Bisexuality?” Shatterstar narrowed his eyes.

Rictor clenched his jaw and sighed irritably. “It’s just a guy and girl thing, ‘Star. It ain’t that important. ‘Sides it doesn’t mean much if I’m just in a relationship with a guy, does it, Doc?”

“That would depend, Rictor. You told me you weren’t comfortable with your sexuality, and that you’ve yet to fully grasp the concept of accepting love from a person of either gender. Have you made any progress at all there? And did you take my advice on trying to go to a dance club to--”

“That was your idea?” Shatterstar narrowed his eyes and frowned.

Samson grinned slightly. “I take it you did.”

“That was ridiculous,” the Mojoworlder scowled irritably. “Why would you make him go to such a place?! Those people infuriate me.”

Julio sighed, and looked a little uncomfortable. “Yeah, we went. The first time wasn’t so good, but the second--”

“Second?” Shatterstar perked an eyebrow.

Samson leaned forward, appearing a little more interested. “Continue.”

Julio swallowed, and quickly glanced back and forth between Shatterstar and the doctor. “Yeah the first time I took ‘Star there just to, you know, do what you suggested. And then…I, uh, kinda went back to blow off some steam. It was nothing, really. I just like to dance.”

“Did you go to a gay club?” Samson asked.

Rictor averted his eyes as he nodded. “Uh, yeah, I'd definitely call it that.”

“When?” Shatterstar questioned.

Rictor peered at him through the corner of his eye. “That night I came home all messed up and we got into that fight…”

“You were mad,” the warrior furrowed his eyebrows as he thought back to the particular instance. “That was not a good day.”

“No, it wasn’t,” the Mexican agreed with a frown.

“And why did you choose to go to that particular place? We discussed that sort of environment due to the fact that Shatterstar is a homosexual, but since you claim not to be…why there? You could have gone anywhere to ‘blow off steam’,” Samson queried. He stared at Rictor patiently for a few moments as the younger man stared down at his hands. “Did you find yourself comfortable there?”

“I, uh…” Ric trailed off and cleared his throat. “I guess you can say I was more comfortable there than I expected to be. ‘Star was the only guy I’d ever been with in any way before that, and…”

“Before?” Shatterstar turned in his seat and watched him. “Are you implying that you were with another male after you went?”

Ric’s eyes widened and he stared at the alien. “Uhm…”

“Rictor?” Samson pushed.

“I was drunk and I was mad and we were so not even together at the time so it didn’t even mean anything!” he blurted.

The Mojoworlder blinked. “Oh.”

Julio quickly turned his gaze back to the doctor and waved his hands. “I swear it didn’t!”

“Okay,” Samson nodded and wrote something else down. “No one said it did.”

Rictor slouched in his seat. “I don’t like doing shit like that, seriously. Promiscuity is really not my thing, but at the same time…uh, yeah. I think it, uhm, helped me realize that maybe I am just a little more, you know, comfortable with being attracted to guys than I thought. ‘Cause before it just wasn’t really about guys, it was always just about ‘Star. And it still is! Don’t get me wrong, I just…” Julio turned and faced the warrior. “Are you mad?”

“Should I be? I am unsure how I am supposed to act in a situation such as this,” Shatterstar just shifted slightly and frowned. “I think I feel envious though.”

“That’s normal for most people, so long as you aren’t ready to go run out and maim somebody,” Samson smiled amusedly. “Again, the two of you are still sorting out your feelings here, so it’s best you don’t jump to drastic conclusions.”

“I will not maim,” Shatterstar promised.

Rictor just sighed and dropped his head into his hands. “I’m not entirely comfortable talking about this. The way I feel about genders just…I don’t know, it just isn’t important to me right now. I’m with ‘Star and I can deal with being with ‘Star because I’ve been there before. It ain’t something that bothers me, and I’m okay with it.”

“Fair enough,” Samson conceded with a nod before turning to the Mojoworlder. “And what about you?”

“What about me?”

“How are you dealing with this? Last time I brought the topic up you weren’t very keen on discussing it. Now that you find yourself back in a relationship, are you more comfortable with the idea of being a sexual being?”

Shatterstar glanced at Rictor before shrugging. “I probably would not be had it not been for the fact that I’ve had recurring memories about such things. A few of my associates have also insisted on giving me their lectures and advice, and that seemed to help bring forth familiar feelings,” he swallowed and slowly reached his hand over to place on Rictor’s wrist. “He is good. I like him.”

Samson chuckled at that. “Well that’s a start.”

“I still wonder sometimes what sort of feelings and phases I had gone through to get to that point before my mind wipe though,” ‘Star admitted and scrunched up his face. “It seems like such a giant step to go from a caged warrior to a loving man. It must have been a long process.”

Rictor nodded. “It was.”

“That makes it surreal a little. But then I think to myself, doctor, that if I had been willing to go such a distance then he must have been important to me. Not just because I physically gave myself to him, but because I was able to remain devoted to him for years,” the Mojoworlder could not help the ghost of a smile that played on his lips. “The aspects of our relationship that I remember were positive for the most part. Mostly I was happy in those memories, and remembering such things now doesn’t make me feel bad. I’m a little nervous as I readjust, but I do not fear him like I thought I would. He holds such power over me, yet I can’t bring myself to fear him.”

“I got no power,” Rictor scoffed.

“Maybe that’s the wrong word, but…” Shatterstar trailed off with a shrug. “I assume you understand what I meant by that.”

“I do believe I know what you mean by that, and I have to say…your relationship intrigues me. I’ve spoken with so many people involved in this 'hero' lifestyle, and it’s very rare to come across two people that are so insanely devoted to each other. A lot of times couples tend to come together as a sort of escape from the traumatic life they lead. They need comfort, company, a distraction – sometimes that turns into on again off again relationships, and sometimes it turns into a fixation. People like the idea of attachment because they don’t feel so alone in a world that they often see as so cruel,” Samson explained. He  twirled his pen between his hands as he shifted his gaze between the two of them. “It almost seems like these days it’s hard to find a pair of people in the superhuman world that are just so loyal and co-dependent as close friends. Despite your fears and insecurities you both just have so much faith in each other that it seems to work out all right for you in the end. It’s that aspect of your relationship and the way you two just see each other as the single most important thing – and that includes the sacrifices you make for one another – this isn’t a relationship you two fall back on just for the sake of comfort. Hell, you’ve both admitted to me in the last ten minutes that there’s so much that still isn’t comfortable for you. You fall back on each other to learn and grow and overcome those obstacles, and it’s that fact that I think keeps you two coming back to one another. That kind of devotion – it’s rare to find that these days.”

Rictor looked up at Shatterstar and pulled his arm out of his grasp to lace their fingers together. “Huh, well I guess we’re pretty intense after all, huh?”

“If you can keep that up, I think you guys’ll work all this out in the end. Despite power losses and memory wipes and alien fights, I think you can figure it out. Just talk to each other,” Samson urged with wave of his hand. “You said earlier, Rictor, that it can be harder to talk when there’s so much more on the line. But when it comes right down to it, everything that’s on the line should be worth just a few words. All you have to do is ask yourself if he’s worth it.”

They both nodded, and Rictor cleared his throat timidly. “Yeah, he is.”

“Then all that’s left is just to give yourselves the time to readjust to all this. It may take a few days or maybe even weeks or months, but as long as you stick with it…”

“I see,” Shatterstar nodded.

“That being said,” Samson looked between them and smiled. “Where do you want to go from here?”

“That’s the problem. We got over all this past stuff and feelings, but…we don’t…” Rictor trailed off with a frustrated sigh and again leaned his face into his hand. “I want to stick around X-Factor. Y’know, I got settled in and I have a job and a salary, and Jamie’s an okay dude. I got stuff keeping me there, and especially now since Rahne and Layla are gone it’s not really a good time to take off.”

“So what’s the problem?” Samson questioned with a slight head shake.

“I’m interested in getting my life back on track. I feel that the only person who owes me the duty of doing so is myself; Multiple Man and Longshot do not owe me anything, and I do not feel as though I can give them what they are looking for in terms of an employee. I am indebted to them, yes, but I don’t feel as though I would be useful to them until I am back to my old self,” Shatterstar explained. He raked a hand through his hair and crossed one ankle over his knee. “I have been supporting myself apparently since I left X-Force, and I see no reason why I cannot do so again. I believe that I need to in order to not only regain the memories of my past life, but to prepare myself for the remainder of my cycle.”

Samson nodded and looked between them. “You want different things?”

They both nodded awkwardly.

The green haired doctor looked at Shatterstar. “Where do you want to go in terms of location?”

“This city seems sufficient,” the warrior shrugged.

“So what’s the problem here?” Doc looked back and forth between them with an amused grin.

“I dunno,” Rictor snapped looking somewhat annoyed at the other man’s apparent smugness. Pulling his hand away from ‘Star, Julio pinched the bridge of his nose. “When we first hooked up we were living together with X-Force. After we left there we lived together in Mexico. Hell, even before we were together we shared rooms at the old bases. We’ve always had each other around.”

"And you’re worried you won’t be able to make this work if you’re not around to pester each other all day?”

Shatterstar scrunched up his face and looked at Rictor. “That sounds even sillier when someone else says it.”

Rictor rolled his eyes and huffed. “Okay, I’ll try and make this simpler. Neither of us have ever really…uhm, you know, had a relationship like that otherwise. We’ve never done it before.”

Samson just shook his head; the amused look still remained. “Look, guys, you’re biggest problems – from my perspective – stem from your communication issues. Talking about your fears and insecurities together, and even just trying to understand each other in that regard without worrying about the way you look – that’s where you two tend to run into problems.” The green haired man set his pen down on his desk and calmly folded his hands in front of him. “You already told me that you guys think the world of each other. That he is worth more than few stumbled words. If you guys are willing to put that aside and admit that, then I’m sure you can deal with seeing each other after work. Being separated for eight hours a day won’t kill you.”

“You think I should go with him?” Rictor asked curiously. “Live with him and just…go to work everyday?”

“Why not? If he’s staying in town I’m sure Jamie won’t throw a hissy fit if you ride your bike ten minutes into work every morning. That way you can see each other after work, go to sleep together, wake up together, and then go do your separate things throughout the day,” Samson smiled smugly at the simplicity of it all and got to his feet. “By doing that you can work on moving forward together and accomplishing everything you want to do individually. I’d say that’s a fair way to meet half way down the middle with each of your demands, no?”

Shatterstar and Rictor looked at each other for a few moments, before a giant smirk crossed the Mojoworlder’s face. “That definitely sounds sillier when someone else says it out loud.”

"Shut up,” Ric rolled his eyes good naturedly before he too got to his feet. “Lookit that, Doc Samson solved the world’s problems after all.”

“I guess just opening your mouth and talking for a couple of minutes didn’t end up killing either of you in the end, did it?” the doctor walked them to the door and held open the wood politely. “You’re welcome, by the way. And if you feel the need to come back at all, you know where to find me.”

“Smart ass,” Julio muttered as he put on his jacket.

“Uhm, thank…you?” Shatterstar scratched the back of his head and just went right for the door. “I’ll never understand unnecessary human drama.”

“Good luck!” Samson called after them with a laugh before the boys left his office and exited the building. The Manhattan streets were busy as usual, and the pair walked in companionable silence back toward Shatterstar’s motorcycle, which had been parked in the parking lot just two buildings over. A weight felt as though it had been lifted from the warrior’s chest; he was still feeling so new at making things work for another person besides himself, and it was nice that he wasn’t failing straight from the start after all. He had not been lying when he said that he wanted to pursue a relationship. Rictor had proved to be a very important person to him, and he was going to have to get used to doing all of the sacrificing and bargaining again. However, if they had been able to do it once before, there was no doubt in his mind they could do it again.

Even if it was still just so weird.

“Where to now, amigo?”

The warrior shrugged and mounted the bike. “If you’re interested…we can go look at that place I was telling you about.”

“How far away is it?”

“Ten, maybe fifteen minutes on the bike? Unless traffic is ‘murder’, as you would say.”

Rictor smirked before hopping on the back and wrapping his arms around ‘Star’s waist. “If you insist; I guess it wouldn’t hurt, huh?”

Shatterstar held back his grin until he turned around completely and started the motorcycle. He peeled out of the parking lot without a word, and headed south toward Mutant Town. The building was probably close to half way between the doctor’s office and X-Factor’s headquarters, and since Ric had no need to be back at work for the day, the warrior didn’t see the urgency to rush. Things were finally looking up for them, and he’d be damned if he wasn’t going to enjoy the time spent with the other man. He had already had it taken away once, and he was not ready to allow it to happen again.

They arrived in front of the small knick knack shop after a few silent moments of sliding between cars and Ric’s curious fingers playing around Shatty’s belly. The older woman the Mojoworlder had spoken to the day before was sitting outside the entrance reading her paper, and she looked up at them curiously as they approached. “You’re back?”

“You remember me?” Shatterstar inquired.

“Hard to forget a unique face like that,” she smiled politely and looked over at Rictor. “Who’s this?”

“A friend,” Shatterstar smirked slightly and gestured toward the stairs leading up to the apartment above. “I’m still interested, if you don’t mind me looking.”

“You’re still the only one interested, so feel free,” she stepped to the side and pulled her keys from her pocket. She worked one off of the large ring and held it out to him. “I’d walk you up, but I’ve got no one to watch the shop for me this afternoon.”

“We won’t be long,” Rictor reasoned. “Just lookin’.”

“Sure,” she nodded.

The men muttered their thanks and quickly made their way up the stairs. The smell was not particularly desirable, and the old ratty yellow carpet was most likely to blame. ‘Star just held his breath as he took the steps up in twos, and quickly unlocked the door. He shot Rictor an annoyed look before stepping inside. “I have to do repairs, so keep that in mind before you start whining.”

Julio gave him a playful punch in the arm before stepping inside. “Sometimes I swear you think that’s all I do.”

“Sometimes I think so too,” he agreed and followed him. The shorter man looked around bewilderedly and spun around to face him.

“Y’know it’s gonna take a lot of work to fix this place up, right?”

Shatterstar nodded and let his eyes roam the room. Most of the windows were nailed shut and painted over, while the walls were drooping with old, tacky wallpaper. The sink in the open-concept kitchen was lined with rust, and half the tiles on the floor were broken, chipped, or missing completely. Then there was that smell he was going to have to work on, but smells were simple enough. He turned his head back to Rictor and jammed his hands in his pockets. “I can handle work. I know how to do repairs.”

“I know you do,” he smirked and wandered down the hall to poke his head into the bedroom, and then the bathroom. “You realize the toilet is totally missing, right?”

The Mojoworlder couldn’t stop the amused laugh that time. “I noticed that. And do you realize that I can handle plumbing as easily as I can handle repairs?”

Julio stepped back out of the bathroom and grinned at him crookedly. “I realize it.”

He nodded and kicked at the messy floor absently. “So?”

"So?”

“Do you…want to stay with me as the doctor had suggested? Once I spend three days fixing this place, of course.”

Ric eyed the ceiling playfully. “Think you can get this done in just three days?”

“I work fast,” he replied, and hesitantly reached his hand out to trace down the Mexican’s forearm. “I promise I’ll do a good job.”

“You don’t need to bribe me,” he snorted. “And…uh, I think I can give it a shot so long as I talk to Jamie first. Although, I gotta admit, the idea of us workin’ and payin’ rent for a place is almost funny to me. Never thought I’d see the day.”

“I heard that I’d done it before for myself,” Shatterstar cleared his throat and shrugged awkwardly. “I’d be happier if I could do it for you this time. Especially to make up for any hard feelings.”

Rictor let his eyes roam the walls again, and a small smile quirked the corners of his lips. “Nah, you don’t gotta make anything up. I’m sure we’ll make it work.”

“So does that mean you want to?”

Ric stepped closer and nodded. “Si. I mean, I’m sure I can deal with riding mi motorcycle more…and, shit, you worked on all these memories and…I don’t wanna go through that again. Whatever else happens we can deal with. I’m ready for that.”

“Good,” Shatterstar felt an odd mix of nervousness and happiness at the prospect, and he leaned down to press his lips against Rictor’s. When they pulled apart, he gestured toward the door. “We can go pay the rent now. But…uhm, you might have to pay half because I--”

Rictor laughed out loud. “And the ulterior motives are out in the open!”

“No!” Shatterstar rolled his eyes. “All I have is a bank card.”

“Whatever, you just want a sugar daddy, I know it,” Ric joked good naturedly as they made their way down the stairs. “That’s okay. You know how to make a guy feel important.”

Shatterstar just grumbled. “Sometimes I regret ever saying anything to you.”

“Seems like it’s a common occurrence, yeah. But hey, looks like you just need me around after all, and for that I think I can handle any other wonderfully complimenting things you might have to say!”

‘Star couldn’t help the grin that touched his lips. “Whatever, Rictor.”

“You better get used to that, you know. You asked, so now you’re gonna have to put up with me,” he shot him a brilliant smile and grabbed his hand. Shatterstar just shook his head and gazed down at him amusedly.

“I think I can handle it. I know of at least two dozen ways I can knock you out without harming you.”

Rictor snorted as they left the building. “Remind me not to like your sense of humour later, amigo.”
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

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