"You think I look all right?" Robert asked. His medium-length auburn hair slicked back, he was completely dressed in black. Black sweatpants that clung to his lean yet well-muscled thighs. A black T-shirt covered by a black cloth jacket. Not to mention the black cord that wound its way around his neck. It was a beautiful necklace. The turquoise stone at its center always reminded Robert of his beloved. As well it should. For it was the exact shade of Bruno's eyes.
"You look wonderful." Bruno smoothed away an imaginary wrinkle from Robert's pants. The truth was, it was merely an excuse to touch him. Not that he needed one.
The wide gold band on Robert's left hand was of Celtic design. It was a gift. A wedding gift. For that was the way Robert's heart translated what Bruno felt for him.
They had been together for over a year now. Most of that time had been spent in hard work towards this very moment.
"I can't believe they invited me, of all people, to be on Leno."
"Why not? Your songs are...well, they're fucking brilliant."
"Bruno...you wrote the words," Robert reminded his lover.
"Yeah, so? A fella's got a right to be proud of his work, doesn't he?" Bruno demanded. His manner might be tough, but Robert knew better. Beneath that hard exterior beat the heart of a true poet. He was a hidden jewel, a buried treasure, and Robert counted himself lucky to have met him when he did.
"Oh, aye. That he does," Robert agreed. "I just wish I wasn't so nervous."
"You'll be fine."
"I get tongue-tied when I can't think of what I want to say. What if they expect me to be funny? Or charming? Or both?"
"They'll love you. I do."
Bruno kissed him, passionately enough to make Robert forget whatever misgivings he had about doing the popular TV show. "Mmm..."
"Now break a leg."
"What on earth would I want to do that for?" Robert asked, his Scottish accent becoming more pronounced as his anxiety increased. "I'm clumsy enough as it is. I don't want to break a fucking leg on national television."
"It's a figure of speech, Robert."
"I knew that," Robert replied, but his blush gave him away. He wasn't as quick on the uptake as Bruno, but he wasn't stupid. He simply seemed to be challenged by the relatively ordinary tasks of daily living.
But he had a huge and abiding love for Bruno, and that was more than enough for the slightly built younger man. Misunderstood and abused more often than he cared to remember, Bruno found solace in Robert's arms.
But more than that, he found someone he could trust. Someone who trusted him. Someone who vowed to love him no matter what.
That was a pretty tall order in Bruno's world. But Robert made that part seem easy.
Love was the one thing that Robert was truly good at.
"You think they'll like me?"
"Yeah," Bruno whispered. "Sneakers and all."
"Oh, bollocks! I forgot to change my shoes!"
"Too late now. Besides, nobody's going to be looking at your feet."
"You were." Bruno could see the panic in Robert's changeable eyes. Sometimes they were blue, sometimes they were green, but mostly they were gray. The color of rain. Clear. Truthful. Beloved. Though that word had never yet crossed Bruno's lips. Nor would it occur to him to use it. But it fit.
"I think you look cool. You'll start a bloody trend."
Robert relaxed, his face softening into a grin. "You always know the right thing to say."
"I wouldn't lie to you, Robert. I love you." Bruno didn't take those words lightly. To him, they were a vow and a commitment.
Robert sank his hands into Bruno's thick dark hair and kissed him. "I love you, too."
"I know." Bruno played with the ring that Robert wore, his slender fingers working the metal up and down and around.
"Something bothering you?"
"I...what if they like you too much?" Bruno raised his eyes to meet Robert's, and Robert couldn't help but be struck again by Bruno's natural beauty. "What if I'm not en-enough?"
"That's never going to happen. I swear it. You have my word."
Bruno pressed his face against Robert's chest and closed his eyes. "I don't want to lose you," he murmured.
"You won't. I'll be with you till you're old and gray and sick and tired of seeing this fucking face every time you wake up," Robert whispered into Bruno's hair.
Bruno released his death grip on Robert's jacket and tried to iron out the new wrinkles he'd made. "Sorry. I don't mean to be so fucking insecure. It just kinda, y'know, hits me sometimes, and I think, all of a sudden, that I might not see you again and-" Tears welled up in Bruno's pale blue eyes, seeming to hang there, suspended, without spilling over. It gave Bruno a luminescent quality that Robert had only seen in old-fashioned paintings that never left the museum.
"I love you. I do. You worked hard for this, Bruno. We both did. Now we earned ourselves a little happiness. I think we deserve that much, don't you?"
Bruno nodded. Sometimes his feelings ran too deep for simple expression. Like now. When he gazed into Robert's eyes, he felt like he was drowning. Only in a good way. Falling into him, enveloped by him. Not obliterated, not left behind to fend for himself as best he could.
Part of him. Before Robert, the only time Bruno felt whole was when he had sex. That momentary joining with someone, anyone, gave him what he needed. But it didn't last. It never did.
Nothing Bruno did made Robert uncomfortable. He knew what Bruno had done, had made of his life, and still he loved him.
Bruno smiled tearfully. "You ready to go out there and be bloody fantastic?"
"Aye," Robert said, kissing him one last time. "I reckon I could do that now."