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Sweeter Than Heaven

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"I love you."

Was not what he had wanted to say at all. He had wanted to say something silly, maybe even sing a few lines of that bloody song Michael always sang whenever someone mentioned their chemistry. But, instead, his deepest, most closely guarded secret had popped out of his mouth the minute his friend had opened his hotel room door.

Huge, sparkling eyes, green and grey as autumn heather, had gone even wider. Quick mouth, already open for some witty reply, now hung open in shocked silence. Michael stood there in washed soft tee shirt and ratty jeans, bare toes poking from the tattered cuffs, staring at James, lost for words.

The dull ping of the elevator behind him made the Scotsman spin and bolt down the corridor. He shot through the closing doors, heard Michael call his name but it was too late. The doors closed, carriage dropping towards the ground floor. James banged his head on the wall, fighting tears. What the hell had just happened?

***

He hadn't been in the scene, had only been stood on the sidelines, watching avidly. Any excuse to watch Michael work was always taken, no matter how much he had to do on his own scenes. He watched as the stuntman did a few practice drops, running through the sequence with Michael and Nick Hoult, pointing out angles and fall patterns. With a final nod, a last check of all the safety harnesses and wires, everyone took their places. James couldn't help but admire the way his taller friend could just pull on the Magneto mask, become cold and calculating in a split second.

As the stunt started, James's stomach gave an odd flip flop. He knew they were being as safe as possible, knew that both actors had practiced repeatedly with fall patterns but there was always the chance that something could go wrong. He watched as Beast tackled Erik to the ground, as Raven made her escape, startled when the director yelled 'cut!'
"Good job. Let's reset and go for the full scene. Ready to get wet?" he grinned at Michael who only laughed, nodding.

James felt a thrill when those green Irish eyes landed on him, a huge smile splitting Michael's face as he threw a thumbs up the Scotsman's way. Smiling back, knowing that it was probably a lot more soppy than it had any right to be, James gave him a double thumbs up back. Then he shuffled to one side as they moved towards the fountain, setting everything up, getting into position.
"Alright," Bryan called. "Places. And....Action!"

Nick threw himself off the platform he'd been precariously balanced on, colliding with Michael, the pair rolling across the ground. There was a sickening thump and James's stomach dropped like a stone. Michael curled up briefly, real pain on his face, before Nick was hurling him in the water, landing heavily on him. Something was wrong. The blood in the water looked far too real, the pain very much too real.

Before James could stop himself, he was shoving his way through to Bryan.
"That's real blood," he almost screamed. Unable to just stand there, he ran across to the fountain, reaching in the chilly water and hauling Michael out.
"Fucking hell," the other actor gasped, hands flying up to cradle his own head, blood seeping through the long fingers.
"We need help!" James shouted, hands already moving to press against the wound and staunch the bleeding.

"Thanks," Michael smiled at him, eyes shifting to the director as he rushed forward. "Sorry, I tried to work through it but... That really hurt."
That was Michael, James thought furiously. Sat in cold water, bleeding and shivering and he's sorry!
"Oh, hell, I'm so sorry," Nick babbled. "I know he was meant to get a bang but... I must have missed the mark!"
"No worries," Michael chuckled, waving it off. "It'll take more than that to crack this thick skull. Do you want me to get changed and set it up again or...?"

James was about to jump in and tell him not to be so stupid when Bryan answered.
"No, I think we'll take a break. You can have the rest of the day off, for dedication to the art in the face of grievous injury. We'll set up for the Trask/President scene. You, you bloody Irish menace, go and rest. We'll try again tomorrow." With a sigh and a shake of his head, the man walked away.

James stepped back as the crew medic took over. He looked down at his hand, stomach rolling in a hot, sick ball when he saw Michael's blood coating his fingers. Without a word, he melted away in the crowd, blindly making his way back to the hotel, though he had no idea how. He spent a couple of hours fluctuating between nausea, concern, panic and self loathing. Finally, his natural good nature rose to the surface, pushing him to go and check on his friend.

***

And look what had happened! Why hadn't he just stayed away, waited until he was in complete control of himself again? Oh yes! Because he cared so deeply about Michael that he lost all sense and blurted out his most closely guarded secret like a moron. Bloody stupid idiot! He banged his head on the wall a few more times for good measure, not hearing when the door whooshed open.
"James? What are you doing?"

Head flying up so fast he was at serious risk of giving himself whiplash, the mahogany haired man stared at Michael, mouth open.
"Wha...? How did...? Greyhound!" he blurted mostly to himself. Hadn't he called the taller man that in interviews? A whippet, a greyhound of a man. He must have run down the stirs to intercept the lift. Backing away, wondering if there was any way to feint then dash passed the green eyed man, James eyed him warily.

"I should... I need to get by, please," he said softly, desperately, refusing to look at Michael again. He sensed rather than saw the taller man step in to the carriage.
"I'm feeling a bit dizzy from running down those stairs. Could you help me back to my room first?"

And there it was, James's kryptonite. That soft, deep, lilting voice, coupled with a plea for help. Knowing it was a bad idea, that they needed to be apart until this whole mess had calmed down, he nodded nevertheless, motioning for Michael to get in. When he swayed, James instantly moved to steady him, arm wrapping around the lean, well muscled waist.

"You realize, I hope, that you are a complete idiot. Running down stairs with a head injury? What is wrong with you? If you'd passed out, you'd have done a damn sight worse than bang your bloody head off the ground. You could have broken your neck!" the Scot snapped, grip tightening nonetheless, holding the taller man a little closer. He couldn't help himself, needed to feel the solid warmth of Michael, just to pacify the worry inside him.

"We all do stupid things," Michael replied easily, leaning into James's grip, enjoying this moment of closeness. He sighed as the Scotsman lead him back to his room, the door left wide open when he'd sprinted after James. Helping Michael inside, James reluctantly stepped back, moving towards the door.
"Don't even try it, McAvoy," the Irish brogue warned. "I'll just have to come after you again. Come and sit down. We need to talk about this."

"Wouldn't it be better to just forget it ever happened and go back to how things were before?" James said in a small voice. While he regretted blurting his feelings out like that, now that they were out there, it was kind of a relief. But Michael deserved an out, a way to just put this whole nonsense from his mind without another thought.
"No-o,"Michael interrupted his thoughts. "I don't think so. I think we need to talk about this... Do you want a drink? All I have is water. Or we could order room service?"
"Water is fine." It would provide a distraction at least.

Handing over a bottle, Michael sat on the bed, motioning for James to sit too. He rolled the bottle between his hands, an oddly endearing, nervous movement from such a normally composed man that it made the Scot smile fondly.
"Look," he started, tongue tripping over itself to get it all out. "What I said... Just ignore me, alright? It was... The thing is..."
Funny how his brain had been perfectly able to come up with words when he didn't bloody need them and now, when he did, nothing.

"I don't even know!" he exclaimed loudly, hands waving. "I know that this has made things incredibly awkward, that it's going to fuck filming up big time, so could you, please, just forget I said anything and... Let's just go back to how we were before I put my great, fat foot in it." He could feel tears in his eyes, vision going watery with them but he blinked them back so he could try and maintain some measure of dignity.

Michael, consummate professional that he was, would get the film done with all the grace and perfection he always did before disappearing from James's life forever. They would never have the kind of relationship that they did before and that broke the smaller man's heart just a lot.
"I don't think I want to do that."

His head shot up, blue eyes flying wide as he gazed at Michael. Those eyes, soft and deep and so easy to drown in, were gazing right back at him. There was a small smile on his expressive face, a look that James had often hoped for but never seen in truth.
"...What?" he mumbled eventually. "I... I... What?"
"I don't want to forget what you said. I'm not very good at this, James, not with just expressing my emotions. But there is one thing I can do to tell you how I feel."

He stood quickly, moving over to his iPod and plugging it in to his speakers. When the beat started, low and drum heavy, Michael began to sway along then he started to sing. That honey/whiskey/smoke smooth voice sent shivers tripping down James's spine.

"There's a drumming noise inside my head
That starts when you're around
I swear that you could hear it
It makes such an all mighty sound

There's a drumming noise inside my head
That throws me to the ground
I swear that you should hear it
It makes such an all mighty sound

Louder than sirens
Louder than bells
Sweeter than heaven
And hotter than hell

I ran to a tower where the church bells chime
I hoped that they would clear my mind
They left a ringing in my ear
But that drum's still beating loud and clear

Louder than sirens
Louder than bells
Sweeter than heaven
And hotter than hell

Louder than sirens
Louder than bells
Sweeter than heaven
And hotter than hell

Louder than sirens
Louder than bells
Sweeter than heaven
And hotter than hell

As I move my feet towards your body
I can hear this beat it fills my head up
And gets louder and louder
It fills my head up and gets louder and louder

I run to the river and dive straight in
I pray that the water will drown out the din
But as the water fills my mouth
It couldn't wash the echoes out
But as the water fills my mouth
It couldn't wash the echoes out

I swallow the sound and it swallows me whole
Till there's nothing left inside my soul
As empty as that beating drum
But the sound has just begun

As I move my feet towards your body
I can hear this beat it fills my head up
And gets louder and louder
It fills my head up and gets louder and louder

There's a drumming noise inside my head
That starts when you're around
I swear that you could hear it
It makes such an all mighty sound

Louder than sirens
Louder than bells
Sweeter than heaven
And hotter than hell"

James could only sit there and stare at Michael as he sang. The song was powerful, clearly meaningful to the taller man as he locked eyes with the Scotsman as he sang. If he was understanding this, if he was taking the hint, then...
"I've waited for years, James, years, to tell you how I felt but... I could never do it. I was too afraid of fucking this up, of ruining the best relationship I've ever had with another human being."

"That's why I never said anything," the Scot blurted. He suddenly felt lighter, a surprised, relieved laugh bursting from him. "All these years wasted. All this time we could have had something even more special than we already do."
Michael's eyes were very vulnerable, even greener than usual with the raw emotion swirling in them. He moved closer to James, reaching out a tentative hand. He didn't even have to think. He took the offer, standing to be even closer to the man he loved.

"Can I...? I want to kiss you, very much," Michael breathed, leaning down until they were barely millimeters apart, warm breath ghosting over James's face. "Please, can I?"
"You fucking better," James growled back, closing the distance between them to seal their mouths together. His arms locked around Michael's neck, careful not to touch his wound.

It was like no kiss he'd ever had before. It was soft and sweet but it sent flares through him every time there was a brush of stubble, a touch of tongue or teeth. He pressed himself flush against Michael, a long held fantasy finally fulfilled as he felt every taut muscle, every ridge and curve, every... His brain shorted out for a long moment when he felt the blood hot thickness pressed between them.
"Is that for me?" he gasped when they pulled apart, panting against each other.

"Everything I have is yours," the Irish brogue replied. "It has been for more years than I care to count. Kiss me again? No, wait."
James drew back a little, hurt and confused, before Michael took his face in his huge hands, long fingers swiping across his cheeks, tracing the line of his mouth.
"Say it again, please?" he murmured, eyes huge and raw, needing something that, it seemed, only James could give him.
"Say what?" James asked, honestly confused for a moment. Then it came to him, fried brain cells working enough for him to remember. "I love you," he said with a smile.

The smile he got in return was like every sunrise in history. And it was aimed directly at a short Scotsman with a wicked sense of humor and a big heart.
"I love you," Michael beamed back. "Maybe we should thank Nick for missing his mark?"
"Later," James grinned wickedly. "We have years to make up for."