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Title: The Shoebox of Truth
Fandom: Romani Detective original fiction
Pairing: Andrej Zeklos/James Rosewood/Zayne Reyes
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1,351
Summary: Zayne finds something in his closet and makes Andrej confess to its contents.
Author’s Note: Written for the weekend challenge at 1_million_words. My prompts were genre: romance, overheard: "I opened the box.", and song: Come Back from San Francisco - The Magnetic Fields. Somehow I managed to work them all into this.

“I opened the box,” he said.

“What box?” Andrej looked up from where he’d been curled on the couch. He rested his book on his knee, praying that whatever Zayne was ranting about wouldn’t take long. It was the third in a series that was rapidly becoming his favorite and the story was starting to get good.

“This one,” Zayne said, tossing an old shoebox onto the coffee table.

Andrej frowned at the Vans box, not having any idea where it had come from. He owned a single pair of sneakers and they weren’t Vans, they were Sketchers. They’d been a present from Trish a few years back as well as a hidden effort to get him to loosen up a bit. As far as Andrej knew, they were still in their box in the closet. “That’s not mine, Zayne.”

“Oh really,” Zayne crowed. He flopped onto the couch beside Andrej and grabbed the box off the table. “Because the content says otherwise.”

“I do not know what you are talking about,” Andrej said, leaning in to get a better look at the box. “The label says they’re women’s size nine and a half.” His feet were a sight larger than that.

“Go on, look for yourself.” Zayne held the box out towards him. “It’s full of letters written in a language I don’t understand aside from one word repeated over and over – my damn name!”

Pulling the lid off the box, Andrej looked inside and it all came rushing back to him. “I thought I got rid of this,” he muttered under his breath. He took the shoebox from Zayne and set it on his lap. Rifling through the pile of folded pieces of paper, he felt a flash of shame followed by a rush of heat.

“Who the hell were you writing to about me,” Zayne demanded. He grabbed a letter out of the box and unfolded it. “See, you mention my name like six times!”

Andrej took a moment to debate how much of the truth he should tell Zayne. There was one thing he had to be honest about, however. “They were to you, Zayne, not anyone else.”

He frowned at the indecipherable letter in his hand. “Then why didn’t you write them in English so I could read them?”

“Probably because you weren’t ever meant to read them, cowboy.”

They both smiled at the sound of James’ voice. The redhead took a seat in the recliner, facing both Andrej and Zayne. James had opted to spend the weekend at his place after some stupid disagreement with Zayne had made having the two of them in the same room unpleasant.

“Didn’t think we’d see your pasty ass this weekend,” Zayne teased.

“Yeah, I hadn’t planned on it,” James said, grinning. “But it’s much too quiet at my place. Thought I’d come over and listen to your loud mouth some. So, what were you doing digging around in Andy’s closet again?”

That wasn’t something that had occurred to Andrej. “These were not – could not have been in my closet,” he said. “The boots, those I knew where they were, but this box, I thought I had thrown it out.”

“He’s right, I was in my own closet looking for something,” Zayne said. “Now spill, Zek. Why the hell were you writing me letters that I can’t read?”

“Jay is right,” Andrej said. “They were never for you to read but more for me to… how do you say? Work through my feelings? I do not know.” He pressed his fingertips to his eyes. Why the hell hadn’t that box made it into the trash like he’d thought? The only bonus was the fact that Zayne couldn’t actually read any of them, giving him a slightly less sinking feeling in his gut.

“Love letters to no one,” James laughed. “Couldn’t you have gotten a journal?”

Andrej made a face. “It is too easy to find a journal and I had only planned on writing a letter or two.” But it had turned out that his feelings for his partner were a world more complicated than he’d expected. Zayne was a hell of a lot more complex than Andrej had ever dreamed as well. Thus, his box full of letters that never should have been.

“What made you start writing,” James asked, poking through the box and pulling out random letters.

He could feel his stomach roll with nerves, even though Andrej knew that there was only one person in the room who could read what was written on those bits of stationery. Idly, he wondered what James was making of the foreign words and symbols before him. “Zayne took a trip to San Francisco about eight months after we started working together.”

“Hey, I remember that trip,” Zayne said, perking up.

A dreamy look crossed Reyes’ handsome face and it made Andrej’s heart ache with regret. There were days when he’d wished he’d had the guts to simply tell Zayne how he’d felt back then, even if it meant they’d be reassigned to new partners. And then there were others when he’d wished Zayne hadn’t ever discovered his secret, even if it meant that they’d never be together. “I bet you do.”

“Oooh,” James crowed. “There’s a story there, I can tell.”

“No story,” Zayne said, looking confused. “I went to visit an old friend.”

“An old female friend,” Andrej muttered. “And Trish kept singing this song, begging someone to come back from San Francisco.”

“These letters are really that damn old?” Zayne gave Andrej a disbelieving look.

“Some of them are,” Andrej said, taking the box back from James. “Others are more recent.”

What had started out as a way to explore his emotions had turned into a history of their friendship, the ups and the downs, the good and the bad. If Zayne ever stopped joking about learning Romanian and took it seriously, Andrej would have to burn the letters for real. There was no way their relationship could withstand some of the revelations that Andrej had put onto paper in fits of temper. Or heartache.

“Translate one for me,” Zayne said.

Despite the curiosity in Zayne’s sea green eyes, Andrej couldn’t do it. “No,” he said. “This is my private journey from lonely and desperate to…” He waved his hand around the room, taking in all three of them. “To this.”

“Fair enough,” James said before Zayne could protest. He turned to the Texan, smiling. “Did you really abandon Andy to go see an old girlfriend?”

Zayne paled. “Yeah,” he said, sneaking a peek in Andrej’s direction. “I had no idea back then,” he said, trying to defend actions that didn’t need defending. “I swear, I had no idea until he kissed me that night at the Heartbreaker.”

“Something I will always regret,” Andrej grumbled.

“Liar,” James and Zayne shouted in unison.

Laughing, Andrej couldn’t deny it. “Okay, maybe not. I do wish that it hadn’t been like that the first time.”

Zayne grinned. “Is there a letter in here about that night?”

“Several,” Andrej groaned.

“Hah,” Zayne chuckled, tucking Andrej’s bookmark into his book before tossing it onto the coffee table. Crawling into Andrej’s lap, he kissed his boyfriend, a long, slow play of lips and tongue. “I wonder what you’ll write down about what’s going to happen this afternoon.”

“Probably nothing,” James said, joining the two of them on the couch, one hand pressed to the small of Zayne’s back. “He’d either be too embarrassed or too turned on by reliving it.”

Sadly, James was right about that. There were some things he couldn’t ever put down in writing. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t about to encourage them to do all the dirty, naughty, wonderful things that they were so good at. He broke the kiss and met Zayne’s eyes. “Promise me you’ll never go back there without me or Jay?”

Zayne kissed the side of Andrej’s face. “Promise, baby. She wasn’t worth my time anyway. I had to go see her to find that out myself. I’m happy right where I am.”
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