The week has not been kind to Darcy Fitzwilliam.
Usually, life wasn’t too bad for him. Running a drive-in movie theatre had its moments and occasionally, he’d have to deal with some unruly customers, but the place practically ran itself and was still going strong. When he and his ex-wife had parted, they had done so on amicable terms. She was his best friend and was helping him raise the twins. She had been his biggest supporter when he mentioned maybe pursuing Hugo and had declared herself the maid of honor/best woman when the wedding arrived. The twins caused their fair share of mischief, but never anything too bad. Even when Ernest got added to the mix, he was still able to manage with the help of Hugo, who was great to have around as well.
However, this week, life decided that Darcy had been doing a bit too well lately and decided to throw all that it had at him.
Work has been an absolute mess. Not much tends to happen in Maple Bay, but a famous actress decided she wanted to have her movie premier in town. She had grown up in town and had frequented his theatre during her high school years, which then inspired her to go to Hollywood, so she thought it was best to repay the place which gave her her start. Darcy was happy to have the publicity and was even happier to know that his little theatre was able to have such a large impact on someone’s life. He had readily accepted her request, but hadn’t realized how much trouble it would be having to help plan this. Despite being months away, Darcy had been calling and contacting more people than he would care to during this past week. He thought it would be a simple affair and that she or her manager would be the one in charge of all of this, but Darcy still had to be contact with the caterers and decorators to make sure every detail was just right, and he still had to manage his own staff as well. Due to the time zone differences, Darcy’s sleep schedule has been less than ideal and his fatigue was showing.
The twins were normally pretty well behaved and he was used to dealing with any issues that arose, but the added stress of work did not help Darcy. The kids had taken a class trip to the zoo and that should’ve been fine, but somehow, all three of them managed to set free half of the animals and brought home a meerkat and tortoise as well. That was then followed by him having to return the animals to the zoo with the kids, which was then followed by a very long discussion about how they would have to help pay for the damages caused.
Not only that, Hugo has been more stressed out and on edge as well. Test week had just passed, so Hugo was now busily grading mountains of papers. Normally, Darcy was the one helping Hugo stay calm, but never really the other way around. It’s not that Hugo didn’t care about Darcy’s well-being, but rather, Darcy stubbornly kept his emotions to himself. He was never really one to share his emotions when others needed help, so he remained quiet as cared for Hugo’s needs over his own. This normally wouldn’t be so bad, but the added stress of everything else was starting to get to him. He’s been so focused on so many other things that he was starting to forget to eat as well and was now relying on a diet of protein bars and coffee. The late nights meant he wasn’t able to talk to and see Hugo before going to bed and he wanted nothing more than to scream and shout in frustration.
This week has not been kind to Darcy Fitzwilliam and he was reminded of that once again when he realized that he was now burning dinner.
Shaking himself from his thoughts, Darcy quickly removed the pan on the stove and tossed it into the sink, quickly turning on the water. He sighed as he stared the black mass in it. He didn’t even know what he was trying to make. He remained silent, letting his fatigue overtake him, until he heard the sound of the front door opening.
“Hey! I’m home!”
“I’m in the kitchen!”
Knowing that Hugo would head his way after setting down his things, Darcy took a deep breath and forced a smile onto his face. Although still tired, when Darcy turned around and was met with a hug and kiss to his forehead, he felt himself feel calmer than he had in awhile. Pulling back, the two gazed at each other.
“Hey. How was your day?” asked Darcy.
“Good, actually. Got most of my work done and Ernest didn’t set anything on fire, so that was a plus.” They both chuckled lightly at this. Hugo then looked up and sniffed the air. “Is something...burning? Did Ernest try to…?”
“Uh..no…” mumbled Darcy. He looked away shyly and Hugo chuckled, already knowing the answer. “I...accidentally burnt dinner. Sorry.”
Hugo shook his head and cupped Darcy’s face. “Don’t be. It happens. Besides, this just means we can order something and not have to worry about cooking.”
They both smiled at each other before Darcy quickly turned away to clean the burnt pan. The action made Hugo frown as he carefully went to sit at the breakfast table and watched Darcy.
“And how about you? How was your day?” asked Hugo.
“Fine. The usual, of course.”
Hugo hummed in understanding, but his frown grew at the response.
Darcy didn’t know it, but Hugo was watching out for him too. He was well aware of the fact that Darcy was under more stress than usual, but he was even more aware of how stubborn Darcy was. Hugo was never one to push and knew it was best for his partner to decide when to open up to him, but this week has been tough on him as well. He had to watch as dark circles formed under Darcy’s usual bright eyes and how his weight had dropped due to malnourishment. Darcy’s exhaustion was ever present and it pained him to see Darcy bottle up everything that’s been weighing him down. He wanted to approach him about the topic, but he also didn’t want to pressure Darcy either. It wasn’t until now, as Hugo watched Darcy finish washing that pan, that he decided he couldn’t stand by any longer.
“So what were you thinking for dinner then? Pizza? Chinese? Maybe we could try out that new Indian place?”
Darcy was walking towards the breakfast table and towards where he had placed his phone earlier. He was about to pick it up and start looking for the right number to dial when he felt a hand on his waist. Looking over, Hugo gave him a gentle smile.
“Darcy, come here.”
Hugo gently tugged at Darcy until he was standing between his legs. Wrapping his arms around his waist, Darcy instinctively wrapped his arms around Hugo’s neck.
“What are you-?”
“Are you alright?”
Darcy stared at Hugo in shock. Words were failing him in this moment.
“Are you alright?” repeated Hugo. “I know a lot has been happening lately for both of us, but I want to make sure you’re okay.”
“Yeah. I’m fine,” said Darcy. He tried to seem casual about it, but judging from Hugo’s expression, he saw right through it. “Don’t worry. I’m fine.”
Hugo reached up and gently pulled one of Darcy’s hands into his own. He placed a kiss on the back of it and on the palm before holding it in his hand, rubbing circles on the back of it.
“Darcy, you don’t have to handle all of this on your own. I’m here too.”
“I know, but I’m fine. Really!”
Hugo gave Darcy a knowing look, who then looked away. Hugo pulled Darcy closer, settling him in his lap and holding him close. Darcy wasn’t going to deny the fact that the action was greatly helping his stress.
“I know you don’t really like to talk about it and I don’t want to push you either, but Darcy, please just let me help you. You don’t have to be Atlas. I know you’re tired and I know you’re stressed. I can see it and I hate seeing you this way, so let me help you out. Okay?”
Darcy sighed, knowing that there was no point in hiding it anymore. “But I don’t want to bother you. You have your own things to deal with. I can handle things on my own.”
“I know,” said Hugo. “I know that, Darcy. It’s not that I don’t think you can handle it. I just want to help you. That’s all. I love you and I care about you, and yes, I have my own things too, but you’re always helping me as well. Just let me help you. Okay? Let me help you.”
Darcy looked into Hugo’s eyes and knew he was telling the truth. He knew he had been stubborn for long enough and that it was time for him to finally accept the help of another. Afterall, he’s not alone anymore. He has Hugo.
He eventually sighed and nodded, pulling himself closer to Hugo. Hugo held him tightly before pulling back to give him a chaste kiss.
“Thank you and now that that’s out of the way, we can finally decide on dinner and move on to some other non-work related activities.”
“Non-work related activities?” asked Darcy, a curious glint in his eyes. “What exactly did you have in mind, Mr. Vega?”
It wasn’t that late when Sebastian, Viola, and Ernest got home, but it felt like years had passed since they had gotten so much work done at the zoo today. Volunteering at the zoo was tough work, but it was better than having to actually pay for all of the trouble they caused earlier that week. They were lucky that Mr. Bloodmarch had offered to give them a ride home afterwards since he volunteered at the animal shelter nearby for when they got home, they found their fathers still engaged in their previous activities.
On the couch, Hugo and Darcy slept soundly with a blanket haphazardly draped over themselves. Darcy had his head resting on Hugo’s chest, as Hugo held him close. Hugo still had his glasses on, clearly having fallen asleep without realizing it. The TV had also been left on as well. Neither of them noticed the loud wrestling match that was still showing. On the coffee table before them, pizza boxes laid scattered about, the clear remnants of their dinner.
The kids all shook their heads, but they couldn’t deny the fact that they were happy to see their fathers like this. At least they were finally getting some well-deserved rest.