B Minor: Coda
Disclaimer: The characters don't belong to me. The storyline does. And yes, I know, I said there'd be no more MiBM. There IS no more MiBM. *sheepish expression* This is the final Happy Families. You guys all bugged the hell out of me for it, so here it is. But no more after this!
Eight years ago today, I tried to commit suicide.
I wasn't just trying to get attention, either, I really wanted to die. So many terrible things had happened to me that I couldn't live inside my own head anymore.
But someone found me, and I didn't die. He bandaged me up, and offered me a ride to wherever I wanted to go.
He's been with me ever since. Trying to imagine my life without Jono is like trying to imagine the world without the sky... half of everything would just be gone. He's been a better friend than anyone could ever deserve, for all this time, and even when his own life went to hell he didn't leave me. He stayed, and let me take care of him like he took care of me when I was the one who couldn't face the light of day.
We've faced our demons down together. He knows what kind of toothpaste I like best. I help him find his pants. We've been together long enough that our lives fit together like a yin-yang symbol - I fit what I do around him, and he fits what he does around me.
It occurred to me a few weeks ago that this really isn't normal.
I mean, we've essentially been roommates for the last eight years. Close, loving, but platonic roommates. Jono's nearly thirty. He's more or less got himself put back together again... he has a pulse, and a mouth, and as long as he remembers to leave a hole in the middle of his chest to vent psi-energy through, it won't blow out again. So he's a good-looking guy again, and he's always been sexy, and I don't know why I didn't notice before that he hasn't had a real date since he was nineteen. There've been dates, mind you, but not *real* dates. The friendly kind. And he's never dated anyone more'n twice. (I'm not saying he's been living like a monk, mind you. There's been nookie. Just not anything approaching a relationship)
I haven't really dated much, either. At first, it was because I was still kind of shaky on my emotional feet, you know? I still had a lot of issues around trust, and emotional commitment, and being abandoned. I just wasn't ready to date. And after a few years I kind of was, but there just wasn't anyone who really grabbed me. I'd see a guy a couple of times, and even if he was nice, I never really felt any kind of spark. I talked to Sylvia - Sylvia's the other social worker at the youth center where we work - and she said that it was probably just taking me a while to be really comfortable with putting myself out there to get my heart broken again. She told me not to push myself too much, just take it one step at a time. Since I've given a lot of people that advice myself, I knew it was good. So I didn't push.
And I didn't really think about it, until I looked ahead to see this eight-year anniversary coming up and realized that Jono and I are still together, living like an old married couple, so comfortable with each other that we can belch without apologizing and run around the apartment in our underwear without caring if the other one sees.
And I tried to imagine life without him, with him or me living somewhere else, maybe married, maybe not, but with separate lives, and I spent an hour lying in bed imagining it, and then I spent the rest of the night peeking in his door every half hour to make sure he was still there in bed, and not gone away anywhere.
And then I started to think about him, about what he means to me. How he's the one person I can always count on to be there when I need him, how he's the only one who knows what I mean when I'm too upset to talk straight, how he looks at me over his coffee in the morning and crinkles his eyes at the corners in what I still think of as a smile, even though he can smile for real now.
And I looked at him, and tried not to think of him as Jono-the-friend, or Jono-the-big-angsty-teddybear, or Jono-the-emotional-lifeline. I tried to be objective. To look, and just see Jono. Whole and entire.
About five minutes later, the most perfect man for me in all the world gave me a funny look and asked me why I was staring at him. I must have said something that made sense, I guess. I don't remember. I had to go have a long, cold shower before I could even remember my own name. That's how bowled over I was.
That was yesterday.
Today, I tell him. And I'm scared that this is going to mess up our friendship, but lying to him or keeping secrets from him or being less than totally honest with him would mess the friendship up much faster. I can't hide things from him. It's like trying to lie to a part of *me*.
* * *
Jubilee closed her diary, and looked at it for a while. It was purple, with a golden dragon printed on the front cover. Jono had bought it for her. Looking around her room, she figured that about half of everything she owned was something Jono had bought her or picked out for her or talked her into buying. She was pretty sure that if she went and looked in his room, the proportion of stuff he'd gotten and stuff she'd gotten would be about the same.
She'd heard him come home half an hour ago, had yelled a busy-sounding hello out her open door, and kept writing. She'd wanted to get it all clear in her head before talking to him about it.
Now she ambled with deliberate casualness out into the open-plan kitchen/living room that made up about half of their small apartment. "Hey," she said, heading for the fridge. She needed Coke. Couldn't have a life-changing event without a fix of sweet brown nectar of the caffeine gods.
"Hey." Jono was sitting at the kitchen table, reading a thoroughly disassembled newspaper, which was shedding single sheets all over the floor. When she got halfway across the kitchen, he frowned and looked up. "What?"
"What what?" Jubilee hedged, going for the nearest can and taking a big mouthful.
"What's bothering you, what?" Jono returned, finger still on his newspaper, holding his place. "You think I don't know after all this time when something's bothering you?"
"Living with a telepath bites," Jubilee groused, sitting down at the table and taking another mouthful of coke. "You think you know everything."
"I do know everything," he returned smugly, rustling his newspaper at her for emphasis.
She put the coke down and met his gaze. "I'm in love with you."
He blinked slowly at her. "Okay, I know almost everything," he said slowly. "When did that happen?"
"Yesterday." Jubilee hitched up one shoulder in a demishrug, trying not to scream or cry or have hysterics or throw him down on his newspaper and have her way with him. This had to stay calm, a little casual, trying to keep it real. "Well, I found out about it yesterday. I think it started to sneak up on me a while ago."
"Oh." His finger moved off the newspaper, his hand scrubbing back through his hair thoughtfully. A corner of his mouth quirked up slowly. "Really?"
Oh, thank god. That was definitely a positive response. "Yeah, really," she returned, letting her voice soften. "What about you?"
He chuckled almost ruefully. "Jubilee, I've been in love with you since you were fifteen. I just didn't want to say anything until you were ready."
She gaped at him. "You.... wha?"
He blushed, looking sheepish. "I just... I didn't want to push you. You didn't need any more emotional stress, and you needed me as a friend, and I love being your friend. And I guess I shoulda said something sooner, maybe in the last couple of years, but it didn't really seem... I dunno... urgent."
Jubilee's eyes narrowed. "You were in love with me, but you didn't see any need to rush into *telling* me about this?" she growled, scowling at him.
"I didn't mean it like that, I just..." He ruffled his hand through his hair again, then reached out to take her hands in his. "I'm with you every day. We spend more time together than most couples, and we get along great." He shrugged, giving her a wry smile. "Except for the no sex thing, this is the most stable, emotionally fulfilling relationship I've ever had. I meant to tell you, I swear I did, I was just.... waiting for the right time. I'd never forgive myself if I hurt you."
Jubilee thought about that. "Okay. Can't argue with any of that."
He blinked at her again. "You're not mad?"
She smiled, squeezing his fingers. "Maybe a little, for making me say it first, but I can't start getting mad at you now for wanting to take care of me. You've been doing it too long." Relief and joy and other more physical feelings were bubbling through her, and she laughed a little. "You really feel that way about me?"
His eyes sparkled as he smiled back at her. "Want me to demonstrate?"
"Oh, please do," she agreed, grinning. "Unless you f....mmmmph..."
The kiss went on for a long, long time.
When it was over, Jubilee was sitting in Jono's lap, arms wrapped around his neck. She rested her forehead against his, smiling goofily. "Is this going to change everything?"
"Nah." He was smiling too, and stroking her back gently as he held her. "We've been together for years. Some things'll change, yeah, but not everything. You'll still put too much milk in my coffee, I'll still leave the toilet seat up, we'll argue about whether to watch West Wing or Red Dwarf..."
"Business as usual, huh?" Jubilee dared another kiss, and purred happily as his arms tightened eagerly around her. "I can think of a few things that could stand changing, though."
"Me too." He grinned wickedly at her. "Want to give them a try?"
Suddenly she felt nervous, and burrowed her face into his neck. "Soon. Let's give it at least ten minutes to become a real romantic relationship."
"I can live with that." He stroked her hair gently. "We don't need to rush into anything, love. I know you haven't... I mean, you haven't really had many boyfriends or anything, and..." She couldn't see his face from where she was, but she could hear the smile in his voice. "I'm not really in any rush either. I've spent the last seven years wishing I could hold you like this." She smiled against his neck, cuddling into his arms. "Really?"
"Yes, really." He hugged her gently, stroking her hair. "I love you, Jubes. I love being with you, seeing you smile, putting my arms around you, smelling you... you smell really nice, you know."
"I love you too," Jubilee murmured, letting her head rest on his shoulder. "And I trust you, you know? I know you're always going to be here when I need you, just like I'm always going to be here when you need me. That means a lot to me."
He nodded, resting his cheek against her hair. "Whenever you need me," he said softly. "Even if you want me to take you to Paris again. Even if you want me to shave my head and join a cult. Even if you want me to sell my motorbike."
"Aww...that's so sweet..." She lifted her head to kiss him lovingly, and then she grinned. "What if I want you to sell your guitar?"
"If you wanted *that*, then you wouldn't really love me. So I wouldn't do it." He smiled and returned the kiss. "I just.. I love you. A lot. So much that I can't imagine being without you."
"Me too." Jubilee smiled too, ruffling his hair gently. "I love you so much..." She kissed the tip of his beaky nose gently. "You've been the sun my life orbits around since the day I woke up in the auxiliary medlab with bandages on my wrists and you hovering over me like some kind of leather-clad guardian angel." She kissed him slowly, softly, a romantic kiss instead of a passionate one. "I'm sorry it took me so long to figure out how much I love you."
"Apology accepted," he murmured, eyes suspiciously bright. "Aww, dammit...y' got me tearing up here, luv..."
"Good." She felt a bit teary herself. "This is a beautiful and romantic moment. We're supposed to get sniffly."
He smiled lopsidedly, touching her cheek with gentle, loving fingers. "Beautiful and romantic moments require snot?"
"Damn straight. If your nose doesn't need blowing then it's not *true* romance." Jubilee grinned. She'd never felt quite this goofily happy before.
"Ahh. So *that's* where I was going wrong." Jono absently rummaged around in his pocket for a grubby hanky, dried his own eyes, then passed it to her. "Here, you're getting soggy."
Jubilee laughed and wiped her eyes. "You're right, love," she said softly, snuggling close. "I don't think things are going to change much."