When James checks into work the next morning, still preoccupied with what had happened when he was off, he just goes through the motions. James is a reporter, and every morning he works, his assignment is placed on his desk.
He had watched people around him move up and get bigger and bigger stories, watched them move on to better and better things, and he was still stuck writing the little articles nobody reads.
Unsurprisingly, there were the little assignments piled up on his desk. James groaned as he sat at his computer chair, reading the basic information for the first article he would have to write today. Without a doubt, he would be able to churn out at least a couple articles before lunch without even having to get up from his chair.
After heading to the break room and getting a cup of the disgusting coffee they serve there, and plugging in some music to listen to as he wrote.
At about 10:00 AM James was getting into the swing of things. When he finished the article he was on, he stood and stretched, making his way past his boss’s office to the restrooms. On the way back, James was incredibly surprised to find his boss waiting for him with a smile on his face.
“Come into my office James. We have things to discuss.” James’ boss, Michael Anders, says, leaving the door to his office open.
James gulps, thinking he did something wrong. He steps into Michael’s office, standing nervously as Michael looks at him carefully.
“What do you need sir?” James asks, his hands twitching at his sides as he speaks.
“You are married to Xavier Collins, aren’t you?” Michael asks, looking down at a file on his desk. “You’re close with the Collins family then?” He continues when James doesn’t answer.
“Yes sir. I am close with the Collins family.” James replies, getting over the slight shock he received.
“Good. I want you to report on the murder investigation into the Collins family. It shouldn’t be hard for you, all things considering.” Michael says, waving his hand dismissively.
James nods his head and walks out the door, a smile making it’s way onto his face as he sits down again. A couple of his co workers notice and congratulate him on his “big break” before heading off to do their own projects.
The rest of the day seems to drag on, but James has to finish the rest of the little assignments he was given before he can go and work on the Collins’ case.
When he finally gets done, which only really takes about an hour or so, James jumps up out of his chair and is through the door before anyone can really react, leaving his cell phone and car keys on his desk in his excitement.
James rushes back into the building, grabs the phone and keys he had left on his desk, and sprints back out the building. He fumbles with his keys for a second before unlocking his car and driving away, headed straight for the apartment he shares with Xavier.
“Xavier! Are you home! I have amazing news!” James shouts, almost tripping on the one step they have in the entire apartment. “Xavier!” James shouts again, this time listening for the sound of their shower running.
When he hears the faint sound of water hitting the floor, James huffs. Taking a seat at the breakfast bar, he takes a few deep breaths to calm down a bit.
“Come on James, it’s not that big of a deal.” He says to himself, spinning slightly in the chair. “That’s a lie this is the biggest thing that has ever happened to me!” James groans because of the desire he has to be nonchalant about the whole situation, but the intense need to be over joyous about the occasion.
When Xavier finally walks out of the shower, shirtless and rubbing his hair with a towel, James almost jumps out of his skin in his rush to tell Xavier what happened.
“Xavier guess what I did!” James says, just below a shout.
“What did you do Jay?” Xavier asks, noticing right away the excitement that James was displaying.
“I’ve finally gotten my big break! Mr. Anders asked me to do a huge piece, and I think this is the one thing that will set my career on the fast track to success! This is so big for me!” James launches into his explanation with full force.
Xavier, once he throws a clean shirt on, sits on the couch and motions for James to do the same. Once James complies, Xavier begins to ask him questions about the piece that he would be working on.
As Xavier hears what it is that James has been tasked with his face grows more and more cold. James is lost in his own little world, telling Xavier all about what he has been told to do, not for a second thinking about the repercussions of what the story might do to Gabriel’s campaign or the Collins family name.
“What did you do James?” Xavier asks finally, his voice void of any emotion. James stops in his tracks, actually looking for the first time at his husband’s reaction to the news. James gulps.
“How dare you do something so bluntly against this family? I don’t like most of them and even I would never have even considered doing this!” Xavier spits, fire in his eyes. “What about what this little article will do to Gabriel’s campaign? What about what this little article will do to the company?” He asks, his voice becoming louder and louder.
James shrinks back into himself, flinching with every harsh word. His confident facade was crumbling before his eyes, as every word Xavier was speaking hit him right where it hurt.
“Xavier please-” James choked out, tears rising in his eyes despite the fact he wanted nothing more than to seem strong.
“No James! You brought this on yourself! You are the one who betrayed the family that has welcomed you with open arms!” Xavier is screaming now, rage in his eyes.
“No Xav-” James starts, cowering before the man he loves.
“Get out of my face James!” Xavier screams, raising his hand like he’s going to hit James. James visibly flinches and Xavier laughs, the rage in his heart making him forget all love he holds for James.
Xavier is about to bring his hand down on James’ weak and cowering body when somebody knocks on their apartment door.
“Uncle James! Uncle Xavier! Daddy dropped me off!” Ava calls, opening the door and interrupting the scene before her.
“Go to our room James.” Xavier says coldly, sending him a look made of pure ice. James puts his head down and follows the order he was given, tears finally leaking from his eyes.
James can’t help but fall onto the floor and weep as soon as he steps foot into the bedroom he shares with the man he loves so much. As he curls into a tighter and tighter ball, James thinks of how, just a short time ago, he was allowed to make a critical decision in their life and marriage for a change.
As more tears flow down his face, James lets out a soft sob, thinking of how often this happens, how often Xavier snaps and screams terrible things for no reason. How often Xavier goes “crazy” for a few hours then comes back, blubbering on about how it will never happen again and how sorry he is for causing James pain.
Xavier on the other hand, takes Ava by the hand and tells her softly not to worry about Uncle James. Xavier, now an expert at making up lies to convince people everything is perfect between himself and James, tells his sweet, innocent niece that “Uncle James just needs to rest for a while” as he leads her out of the apartment. Xavier rests for a second before going out of the door behind Ava, smirking when he hears a light sob come from his room. As Xavier slams the door he lets his smirk slip into a sweet, innocent smile.
Xavier helps Ava up into the booster seat in the back of his car. He laughs like normal when she tells one of the corny jokes 8 year olds learn during school as he buckles her in. Xavier even listens to Ava as she complains about one of the boys in her class who keeps pulling her hair, completely agreeing with her on the issue, of course.
Ava’s innocent giggle and the knowledge of the pain he caused James made Xavier very happy for a few hours. Eventually, Xavier began to feel guilty though, causing him to want to make it up to James in some fashion.
After carefully explaining to Ava that he had done something wrong, Xavier lead her into a shop that sold flowers and picked up a dozen white roses. James had always loved white roses.
Xavier seemed preoccupied when he dropped Ava off at her house, smiling and telling her that he and Uncle James would not be going to the family dinner. “Can’t you tell Grandma that for us?” Xavier gave a smile and drove away when Ava said she would do just that.
James lay on the floor for God knows how long, crying until he had no more tears to give. He had believed, really truly believed, that Xavier wouldn’t do it again. James told himself that things would be perfectly okay because Xavier had promised it wouldn’t happen again.
James wanted nothing more than for Xavier to go back to being the man the he fell in love with, the one who wouldn’t hurt a fly. James wanted the man who would hold him and tell him everything would be alright. Xavier was no longer that man, but James still loved him more than anyone else he knew.
When the door to the apartment opened again, James didn’t hear it. When the door to their bedroom opened, James flinched a little but had no other reaction.
"James?" Xavier called, his voice soft. "Could you get up and come to the kitchen please?" Xavier then closed the door to the bedroom to give James time and space.
James rouses himself from the stupor of blame and hate he had fallen into. He goes over to the vanity and cleans himself up, making sure to take his time.
Eventually, James opens the door and goes to the kitchen like he was asked. Xavier is seated at the breakfast bar with a bottle of wine and an already almost empty glass. James almost turns and goes back to the bedroom, fully knowing that if Xavier was already almost done with a glass, he would drink the whole bottle.
Instead of running from Xavier, however, James clears his throat and walks the rest of the way into the kitchen. James almost sighs at the sight of Xavier's face. They had almost gotten to six months of no arguments on this scale, and James just knew this fact was weighing on Xavier's shoulders. He figured that was the reason Xavier was drinking again.
"What do you want Xavier?" James finally asks, averting his eyes when Xavier tries to capture his gaze. James knows if he lets Xavier's breathtaking almond eyes catch his own he will forgive Xavier in a second, without hesitation.
"Can you forgive me James?" Xavier pulls three white roses from somewhere and presents them to James with a sad smile. "I know how much you love them." Xavier offers up an empty chuckle and motions to the white roses in his hand. "I bought the freshest ones I could find." Xavier lays them on the table and pushes them gently towards his husband.
"You promised." James turns away from Xavier as he whispers.
"I know I promised baby. I just don't know how to react in certain situations. I'm so sorry James. I'll try harder next time, I swea-" Xavier is pleading.
"I don't care! You fucking promised me!" James yells, turning back to face Xavier. Xavier stands in shock, noticing the tears in James' eyes.
"James, baby, please let me explain." Xavier reaches for James, his hand falling before he could reach James.
James hangs his head and lets the tears fall, taking a tentative step towards the man he loved so much. Despite the fact Xavier had hurt him so many times before, James still sought out his comfortingly tight grip.
James fell into Xavier's arms, instantly feeling better. Xavier tightened his grip around James, swaying the both of them slightly.
"Promise me you won't hurt me." James mumbles into Xavier's shoulder, lifting his head briefly to look into the eyes of the slightly shorter man.
"I promise. I'll never hurt you again." Xavier says, smiling as tears well up in his eyes.
James sets his head back down on Xavier's shoulder, allowing himself to be swayed from side to side.
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