Arctos: Filters – Episode 3 (Part 1)

When Bruce woke the next morning, he found himself alone in the bed–but that wasn’t unusual. Jay always rose early to get started on work around the farm before dawn. Bruce had helped him out on a few occasions, but apparently Jay hadn’t needed, or perhaps wanted, Bruce’s help this morning. He wasn’t sure how to feel about that, and he wondered what it meant, if it meant anything at all. It was silly to try and parse it out, he supposed. Jay wasn’t exactly a subtle fellow–he would let Bruce know exactly what he was thinking soon enough. He got up and got dressed in the clothes he’d arrived in the night before–he hadn’t bothered to pack a bag. He hadn’t even really known why he’d even come back here.

Well, that was a lie. He’d come back here because he was lonely. Because even if Jay was a fucking sadistic psychopath (something Bruce had screamed at him when he’d last been in this house) he was also the one person in the world that Bruce felt understood him. All of him. Or at least most of him. He’d grown up in the city, but even living with Jay here on the weekends had changed him. It had been hard, figuring out what to do with himself…because he liked Jay. Hell, he might even love him. But he…also needed to feel safe, and sometimes, Jay could be scary as all hell. It was why he’d left, but it was also why he’d come back, he supposed.

Once he was dressed, he went out into the hallway, and sure enough, there was the scent of breakfast on the air. Jay loved cooking for Bruce–hell, Jay loved everything about Bruce, and maybe that’s why he could be so scary, because he loved Bruce more than Bruce could ever imagine loving himself. He loved parts of himself that Bruce could only ever imagine hating.

He trekked downstairs, listening to Jay whistling one of his old tunes off the country radio station as he cooked, and there was already quite a spread laid out on the table. Jay had heard the old stairwell creaking under Bruce’s weight, and looked over his shoulder at the hefty pig in the doorway, licking his chops as he stood there. “Well go on then, tuck in. I ain’t ‘bout tah fuck ya and not bother tah feed ya, ya know that.”

The voice was congenial, but cold. Distant maybe, or cautious. Jay wasn’t quite sure what to make of Bruce’s sudden appearance either, apparently. Bruce wasn’t about to turn down the offer, and if he rejected a meal from Jay…well, he’d never have a chance with him then. Jay was very proud about his cooking, and he had earned that pride in Bruce’s opinion. He sat down and started shoveling food into him, grunting a bit as he did, and Jay kept filling up the table as he did, softening a bit as he watched the pig eat up, but then, he’d always loved a man who could appreciate his cooking properly. They didn’t talk much though. The last argument they’d had in here was still thick, when Jay had suggested they take their relationship a bit…further, than Bruce had been comfortable with.

So Bruce filled the silence with food, and Jay started washing up the pots and pans in the sink. He could hear Bruce slowing down, getting full, and Jay decided it was time to air things out a bit. “So, you staying? Or are you just gonna come flying in here, without so much as a call, anytime you feel like it?”

Bruce swallowed his mouthful of food, and then sat back. He didn’t know what the answer was himself, really. “I…missed you, I…I’m sorry for the things I said, last time, it wasn’t…kind.”

Jay shrugged. Shrugging was his way of acknowledging something that hadn’t been needed to be said, or that should have been self-evident. When Bruce had called him a fucking sadistic psychopath, Jay had shrugged then, as his way of saying, “We both already know that–why’d you even bother saying it?” It drove Bruce a bit mad when he did that, when Jay just…dismissed him, and what he had to say, like it didn’t really matter, because Jay had already thought of it too.

“But you really…I’m not some animal, you know. I’m a person too. I might be a freak, I don’t…really know what I am to be honest. Being with you feels good, most of the time, but sometimes you really fucking scare me.”

“It only scares ya ’cause ya want it.”

“I do not want it.”

“Pig, ya gotta want it a little, or ya wouldn’t fuckin’ be back here again, now would ya?” Jay quit the dishes, and wiped his thick hands off in a towel, before turning to the table. “Now–are you staying? Or are we gonna keep playin’ this game a while longer, until I get bored with it? Cause I gotta be honest, it’s borin’ as fuckin’ hell on ice.”

“Are you not–can you just not listen to what I’m saying? Is that what’s wrong with you? What you said last time, that was fucking insane shit! I–who the fuck would agree to something like that? Did you honestly expect me to say yes?”

Jay shrugged again, and then walked over to the table. “Ya didn’t finish, pig.”

“I was saving some for you.”

“I already ate when I got up–this is all for you.”

“I…Jay, can we be serious for a fucking second?”

Jay just picked up a pancake, folded it in half, and pushed it against Bruce’s snout, waiting to see what he would do. Bruce opened up, and Jay slid the pancake in. “How about you finish eating pig? Then we can talk about it.”

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