Rating: pg- 13 (for cursing, mostly)
A/N: This takes place after/during Roberts visit to Paul on his houseboat, when they discuss the book, the files, etc. It implies a previous... relationship between the pair.
"I'm sorry to have bothered you." He stands to go. Avery stares after him for a moment, his mind churning, and then speaks up.
"Look, Bobby... Whatever we had, four years ago? That was nice." He laughs a low chuckle. "It was real nice. We drank and had a good time playing at being detectives... and I wore a lot a' scarves... But Robert.... That's over. Long over. Whatever we had is over; the case died down and we just..." Paul Avery pauses to take a long drag on his cigarette, and Robert opens his mouth to speak, but Paul quiets him with a wave of his hand.
"Shut it and listen, because my lungs are not gonna hold out much longer and if you come to have this conversation in a year or two I won't want to. Now listen Robert, we had a good time. It was nice to get away from our respective wives and children and fuck all, but in the end we were just reporters and we never did anything.
"Yea, I knew a lot about the Zodiac, and I had a lot of files. But all that's gone now. Look at me! I'm living on a boat. It's sad. Really sad. My career is over, Robert, and so are we."
"But--" Paul gestures again for him to be quiet.
He leans forward for emphasis. "Do you know why, Robert? Why we can't be 'friends' or more than friends or whatever the fuck we were any more?" His cigarette is burning low, the ash flutters into the air like inverted snow, and Robert concentrates on how, at any moment, Avery might be burnt instead of looking at Paul’s dark eyes. "No?" Paul grinds out his cigarette, grimacing, and ends up with his elbows on his bare knees and his head buried in his hands.
Robert Graysmith is still avoiding his eyes, frowning and being awkward across the coffee table. For a moment his eyes wander over the many different kinds of drugs scattered around, and then he can't stand to look anymore.
Paul had initially been to glad to see him, very glad to see him, but all that was gone now. "Not that I haven't been sitting here idly, waiting for you to drop by and reinvigorate my sense of purpose," he'd said, and Robert thought that meant, or at least implied, a little, that he really had been waiting to be tracked down. The way he'd said it! Sarcastic as always, and bitingly mean, but underneath it Robert thought he heard a hint of earnesty. Robert thought that Avery would care as much as he did, and would be enthusiastic about re-opening the hunt. But he'd been wrong. Paul picks up another cigarette and is about to light it when his thoughts overwhelm him.
"We're through because... because you love this damn case more than you do me!" Paul suddenly burst out, looking up from his hands, his entire face intense. "You love this mystery more than you love your wife or kids and you care about it more than you ever cared about me. I was just a side-note to your fucking investigation. Just another way to get information about your beloved fucking Zodiac. Christ, Robert--" His eyes are wide and excited, and they remind Robert of when he would watch Paul do coke and then be amazed at something he'd heard. Robert's heart warmed at the image of Paul sniffing and blinking his wide eyes and flicking his head.
"Paul!" Finally, Robert forces himself into the conversation. "Paul, I..." Instead of trying to justify himself, instead of explaining or lying, Robert takes two steps forwards around the table, takes Paul’s face in his hands and kisses him, hard, just like he used to. Paul makes a surprised, almost angry sound. Robert feels finger tips on his arms and chest, pushing insistently, but Paul isn't exactly fighting him off. Robert was never this forward four years ago, never this aggressive and he recognizes now that he needs Paul to let him do this.
Paul feels Roberts hands on his neck, his chest, his jaw, roaming and settling, shifting and caressing and petting. He still has his cigarette in his hand, even though it's not burning, and as Robert's mouth leaves his for air, Paul drops it. Robert doesn't look at him exactly, but doesn't kiss him again, and it's then that both Paul and Robert realize that the younger man has gotten himself straddled across Pauls lap, on his knees on the couch, pinning Paul down and back. He still has his hands in Pauls' now severely graying hair and Pauls' hands, likewise, are on Roberts hips.
There is a slight increase of pressure at his waist, and Paul, smirking, has turned them sideways and is pressing against Robert down onto the couch, and next thing they know the pair of them are kissing and touching and shifting like kids in high school.
Some time later, Paul has settled half-asleep against Roberts hip, curled around his legs and torso. Robert has one hand in Pauls hair, stroking and twisting, and with the other hand he tries to find his watch. Somewhere along the way he took it off because it was hurting, but now he needs it. He was supposed to pick up his son today, and being late would be unacceptable to Melanie.
"Paul?" The older man makes a sleepy noise. "What time is it?" Paul shrugs and nuzzles against Roberts stomach. Getting no more response than that, Robert carefully and slowly extricates himself from Avery's hold, replacing his lower body with a pillow that Paul can cling to.
"Where're you going?" Paul asks quietly from the couch, his eyes wide open and watching. Robert tries to think of a smart sounding excuse, and in the meantime opens and closes his mouth multiple times. A frown forms on Pauls previously peaceful face and he snaps into sitting. "I'm sorry we did this." He stands, moving to go open the door for Robert and coolly brush him out.
"Wait, Paul--" Robert grabs his arm, trying to explain. "I wanted to--"
His face hard as stone, Avery pushes Robert out the door. "Stop, Bobby." He says, "We're done." He smiles, almost sadly, but mostly just with his sardonic snark, and shuts the door in Roberts face.