|Deadwood fic, "Each Star in Its Heaven"
||[Dec. 10th, 2005|08:07 am]
I was just cleaning house a little, removing myself from some communities that haven't seen action in a while, and I saw this one in the list. Thought I'd go ahead and post something from a couple of weeks ago that I wrote for gwyn_r's birthday. Hopefully, it will be new to a few of you.|
Word count: about 3,200
Spoilers: through Season 2, "The Whores Can Come"
Notes: not beta'ed, but I welcome any corrections.
Each Star in Its Heaven
Comfort's in heaven, and we are on the earth
Where nothing lives but crosses, cares, and grief.
- Richard II, act 2, sc. 2
* * *
It was late when Trixie made to leave, after midnight at the end of one of the longest days of Sol's life, and still he didn't really want her to go. Her pragmatic, sharp wit and skillful hands in his small, warm bed had never been so welcome as they were tonight. He'd spent the better part of the day standing in the cold mud, hurting like hell for Seth and unable to do a damn fucking thing to help him except drive the wagon that carried the body of his dead child, and serve as witness to his pain.
Shivering a little from the cool wash water, Sol dressed quickly and followed Trixie out into the main room of the store, wishing that she'd forget about Swearengen once and for all and say the hell with it. Nothing was stopping her from walking away except the walls she put up herself, and one of these days she'd see that. He'd half hoped it might be tonight, when he'd seen her waiting in front of the store.
But she was all business now, straightening her hair and tucking it back into its clasp as she hurried to get back to the Gem before the aforementioned cocksucker got pissed that she'd been out too late again.
"Don't say it," she told Sol over her shoulder as she finished buttoning her dress. "It's late, and neither one of us needs to be entertaining that conversation again. Not tonight."
He stopped beside the counter, watching her tuck and straighten herself, bemused. "Who said anything about entertaining? I was just going to tell you your shoe's untied."
She shot him a disgusted, sideways look, just like he'd known she would. "That a fact."
"Only trying to help."
She bent down to remedy the situation, eyes flashing in that flinty, sharp little way he liked. "Remind me again what it is I like about you?"
"So you do, then. Like me."
Her mouth quirked, wry. "Even if you are a funny fuckin' Jew."
Sol grinned, feeling better than he had in days. "Guilty on all counts." She straightened up, swinging her hair back over her shoulder, and he took a step toward her. He intended to kiss her goodnight, with or without her say-so, but it was then that the door opened, letting in the night chill, and he looked up to see Seth in the doorway.
He stilled. Feeling something cold press against his heart, Sol turned and met Trixie's knowing gaze. As usual, she saw right through them both; for once, though, she didn't say anything, just gave him a long look, and went.
Sol locked the doors behind her. One good look at Seth and he didn't dare get anywhere near him. His friend looked like he might shatter at the touch of a friendly hand--if anything, he seemed even more brittle and vulnerable than he had at the funeral, where Sol had seen him hugging his arms tight around his middle to keep himself together. Something else must have happened. Something worse, even, than Martha Bullock's headlong flight into the house Seth had built for her and her son.
Seeing the look on Seth's face, Sol's own body ached, as it had then, with the weight of his helplessness. Whatever brought Seth to his door at this hour, on this night of all nights, it couldn't be good. Unspoken questions crowded into Sol's mind, but the look on Seth's face warned him to go carefully.
He barely met Seth's eyes, just beckoned with a sidelong look and circled toward the back room; Seth followed, moving with that painful slowness as if it was costing him tremendous reserves of strength just to stay upright, to put one foot in front of the other. Such a short time he'd had to be at peace with himself, to think he might have a chance at some kind of happiness with his brother's wife and son. Such a short time William Bullock had had on this earth. So goddamned fucking unfair.
Seth stopped in the doorway, uncertain. "Stay a spell," Sol said, going to the cabinet where they kept a few glasses and what spirits they had. "Have a drink with me."
"All right." After a second, Seth took his hat off and set it on the desk as if he'd never seen it before. He seemed acutely awkward standing there, as if he hadn't helped build the place himself and spent countless hours at that very desk, as if he didn't know what to do with his hands.
Sol pretended not to see it. "What's your pleasure?"
Seth spoke with the same pretense at normality, and it was only because Sol knew him as well as he did that he could hear the hesitation beneath it, the brittleness. He busied himself fixing the drinks.
"Mrs. Bullock faring all right?" he asked at last, his tone as neutral as he could make it. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Seth flinch almost imperceptibly. He'd picked up something off the desk -- the can that Sol used to hold pencils. He put it down again, as if he wasn't quite sure how it had ended up in his hand.
"Martha asked for some time alone," he said, his voice rough. "She's thinking of going back east, now that--"
It was as much as he could manage, the words as painful as cuts, punishing in their unspoken accusations. Sol understood, too well. She couldn't bear this place that had killed her child. What mother could? But Seth would feel it like just condemnation, too-well deserved. His fault; his responsibility. His face that she couldn't bear to look at. His house she couldn't bear to live in, now that he'd killed the only thing she loved. It was the cruelest blow she could have delivered, and Seth's face was ravaged with it, his eyes looking like they'd seen the worst places in Hell.
Sol made himself look away from his friend's pain, back at the glasses in front of him. He poured two healthy shots of whiskey, digesting this latest awfulness, hating Martha Bullock just a little bit in spite of himself. God knew she shouldn't have to suffer any more, but hadn't Seth suffered, too? Couldn't she see that?
Telling himself that no good lay that way, he brought one of the glasses to Seth, who took it with the distinct air of a man profoundly grateful to have something to do with his hands.
But he didn't drink it, didn't even seem to see it, his eyes someplace else, someplace dark and unbearably bleak. After a long moment, Sol closed the distance between them, took the drink from him, set both glasses aside. His hand found Seth's shoulder and squeezed, slid up to curve around his neck; Seth bent into the touch with a harsh, faint sob. Sol took three steps back and sat down on the bed as Seth went to his knees, wrapping his arms around Sol's body and holding on for dear life. He didn't cry, but he was shaking, like if he let go he'd fly apart.
Sol just put his hand on the back of his head. "Seth. Seth."
Sol held him like that for a while, hands on his neck, his back. "Don't try to make sense of it," he said at last. "There's no sense to be made from something like this, so don't waste your time. It's life. It's harsh and it's cruel and it's bitter, and it's life. It's not some kind of punishment for things you or anyone else has done, and it sure as hell is not your fault."
Seth lifted his head, and there were tears unshed in his eyes now, anguish in every line of his face. "How do you know that?"
"Same way I know God didn't come down and take my father away because of anything I did, or didn't do. His heart gave out because he never listened to my mother, and he was too cheap to hire someone to help him when I was in school." He gentled his tone, wishing he was better with words. Wishing he could just reach out and erase the last two days and make them disappear forever. "William is gone because it was his time to go. It's not fair. It's not fucking fair, it just is. And no amount of you blaming yourself or torturing yourself with might-have-beens is going to change it."
Seth searched his eyes, struggling with it, trying to believe him. At last his hands stopped gripping the cloth of Sol's britches quite so tightly, and something in the rigid line of his body relaxed. He swallowed hard, eyes bright with the tears he'd been holding back with such quiet ferocity all day. "I'm sorry," he said hoarsely.
Sol blinked. Whatever he'd expected, it wasn't that. "For what?"
The wariness in the way he said it brought a soft, breathless laugh from Seth. "Most things, I guess."
Without knowing he meant to do it, Sol reached up to cup his face, thumb brushing against his cheekbone. "You are a piece of work, you know that?"
Then Seth's hand grasped his and he leaned up, and Sol found himself doing the only thing he could do, leaning down to meet him. Their lips touched and he tasted salt on Seth's, the tears finally spilling as Seth closed his eyes and leaned into him.
It'd been so long-- Sol caught himself wondering if Seth had come to him because he couldn't go to the widow. But whatever the reason, he couldn't help the surge of unexpected relief that came with feeling Seth warm and solid and alive under his hands, between his legs, Seth's hands ruching up his shirt and finding their way underneath to spread warm against his back. Sol opened to him, and they kissed deeply and hungrily for long moments until Seth had to breathe and broke away, turning his wet face into Sol's neck. Not since last year, Sol thought, since before Seth had ridden after Bill Hickok's killer. He hadn't known then that it was the last time.
This time he was wiser, and he understood, the knowledge a fierce, wordless knot in his chest.
* * *
He let Seth make love to him, and he'd forgotten the sureness of those hands stripping his clothes away, the long, lean weight of Seth's body against his. He'd forgotten the sweet brush of Seth's mustache against his skin and the--oh God--rush of erotic heat at the contrast between wet tongue and warm breath and that rough stimulation against his neck, rousing his nipples, tracing his hips and along the inner crease of his thigh. Seth's face felt warm against the side of his cock, the softness of his longer hair teasing--that was new. Sol looked down to watch him, to remember the dark curve of his lashes and the breadth of his scarred shoulders. His hand found Seth's hair of its own accord and Seth looked up, seeing only him now. Sol leaned back on his elbows and his erection stood up in his lap like the first time they'd done this, laughing and fumbling in the back room of the store in Helena, Seth seventeen and eager, Sol twenty-four and sure of himself, feeling like a kid with a brand new bag of peppermints and a silver dollar burning a hole in his pocket.
Now Sol canted his head, remembering with a flush of anticipation. "Gonna study it all day, or you think you might try getting to know it a little better?"
The flicker of a familiar, wicked grin touched the corners of Seth's mouth. "Don't recall you being so impatient."
"Who's impatient? Just wondering, is all. I got some commodes to restock, if you--" He sucked in a sharp breath and closed his eyes, hips jerking as wet heat enfolded him. "Jesus, Seth." He writhed a little and Seth held him down, hands spread against his hips, throat soft as silk. Words deserted him and he focused on trying not to rip Seth's hair out or choke him.
The problem with focusing, of course, was that all too quickly he responded to the insistent pressure of Seth's tongue against him, a rhythm and pattern that knew him too well, knew just how to make him forget himself and give himself over without shame or hesitation to the sweetness of Seth's hunger for him, the eagerness he'd never lost. In this, he was still that intent young man, determined to prove himself or to make Sol lose his mind, whichever came first.
Sol was as helpless to fight it now as he had ever been, and soon he stopped trying, just gave himself into Seth's hands and the heat of his mouth. His swearing and the jerky thrusts of his hips didn't slow Seth down any, just made him stroke Sol's flanks in encouragement. When Sol's release took him, fierce and fever-bright, everything fled away from him but the pleasure and the sound of his own harsh panting.
He came back to himself gripping handfuls of the wool blanket so tightly his hands hurt.
"Jesus fucking Christ, Seth."
"You said that."
"Well, it bears repeating." He made himself let go of the blanket. His heart thudded fast and heavy against his ribs. Opening his eyes, he looked down.
"Don't move." Seth shifted up, aligning their bodies, and Sol couldn't help closing his eyes again as Seth slid against his slick belly, making him shudder. Overstimulated nerves leapt to register all the points where their bodies touched, and he shifted to give Seth a better angle.
"Fine, you want to fucking kill me, go ahead."
It didn't take long. His hand came to rest on the back of Seth's head, bowed against his collarbone as Seth found a rhythm against his flank, Sol's own slippery fluid easing the friction. Seth made no sound save a soft inhalation of breath when he came, but the shuddering of his body shook them both and Sol held him against it.
When it was over, Seth slipped out from under his hand and lay beside him, the slowing cadence of their breathing the only sound in the room. Sol's body cooled until he could feel the night's chill; he didn't move to pull the blanket over them, or to button his shirt, just watched the blink of the stars against the night sky through the small, square window, his hands carefully still at his sides.
It felt like he waited a long time, suspended between sleep and awareness, between hope and loss, and with anyone else but Seth he would have said something, done something, to tip the balance. Seth, though, wasn't the kind of man you could reach out for, the kind you could coax or needle or prod forward when he wasn't sure of his footing. He'd balk like a spooked horse if you did that, as Sol knew better than anyone. All you could do was sit very still, and wait for him to make the leap.
"She's right," Seth said at last, voice rough and close in the dark, and Sol almost sighed with relief. "If I hadn't brought them here--"
"You don't know that."
"It could have happened anywhere. A thousand different ways. None of us knows when our day'll come. The only thing we can do is try to do what's right, because what else is there? We can't control every minute of every day, can't always be fast enough or smart enough or lucky enough to guess right every time. Nobody's that lucky." His hand found Seth's and settled over it. "I won't deny you've made your share of mistakes just like the rest of us. But giving your love and protection to that boy was not one of them." At least he was loved, he wanted to say, by a man who didn't reject him every five minutes, or try to beat respect into him every chance he got. At least he was wanted.
Seth said nothing, still struggling with it, while Sol wrestled with the words and tried to find some way to say it, some comfort to give that Seth could accept. "He touched every one of us, Seth," he said at last, his voice low. "Everybody in the camp. You know he did."
"He did that."
"Maybe the first thing that has. Maybe seeing him and that little girl about, the first time we felt like a real town, instead of a godforsaken noplace on the edge of nowhere. First time these folks looked around and saw that we might become something." And they'll love you now, he thought, looking at his own hand where it lay against Seth's. They respected you before, but now they'll see that little boy whenever they look at you, and they'll love you, and you'll make them better than they ever thought they'd be. "It's not for nothing," he said aloud. "Nothing ever is."
Seth's gaze stayed focused someplace between the narrow bed and the angled beams overhead. His hand slipped out from under Sol's to rest in a loose fist against his hip. But the frozen stare had given way to a quieter struggle, a thoughtfulness that Sol recognized with some easing in his own breast.
Seth's throat moved then, a painful swallow, and his eyes shimmered. "I'll miss him," he said.
Sol's heart squeezed hard, like it was remembering how. It was the first time since it happened that Seth had let himself touch his own grief, given himself permission to feel any. "Of course you will."
"He was a good boy. Robert would have been proud of him."
Sol felt wetness on his own face, and he couldn't help thinking of the two of them, the small figure and the tall, slim one bending down to listen as they walked up the hill. Both of you, he wanted to say.
"All right, Seth," he said instead, and after a moment, Seth closed his eyes and turned toward him, letting Sol's arms do what they'd wanted to do for longer than he could remember.
If she went, he'd go with her. Sol knew that even if Seth didn't. But he was older and wiser now, and if life was a cold-hearted bitch, he'd long since learned to live with what mercies she did grant.
This one, he'd take.
~ * end * ~
And hey, while you're here, some Seth/Sol squee wouldn't go amiss. *g* They're my current obsession, and I'm thinking hard about a story set back in Helena, before they came to Deadwood. Any thoughts about how they met?
ETA: What the heck. If the story's new to you, this music vid might be new, too.