Alliance Atlantis owns the characters and concepts of due South, created by Paul Haggis. No profit or copyright infringement was intended.
follows 'Change of Days'
Duck was staying home. Sunday was a day for rest. Monday would be soon enough to go into town and look into the faces of people he had known all his life to see if they looked back. Today, he made eggs and burned his bacon, drank his orange juice and sat at his dining room table frowning at the disassembled airbrush spread on a tarp at the far end. His phone rang but he didn't answer it. Duck's phone had been ringing more often lately - sometimes cruelly late at night - and the messages on his machine weren't about work. He recognized Irene's voice on one of them. He recognized other voices too.
Duck was still at the table; bent over the airbrush as he scrubbed away at the paint clotted head assembly with thinner and a grubby toothbrush when he heard his name. He pushed his chair back and followed that voice outside, startled to hear it. He didn't bring people home.
The sky was clear and the sun was lifted just above the pinetrees marching down the tumbled slope behind his house to the sea. The sweet sharpness of the air cut through the smell of paint in his nose; the constant presence of the sea and pine and the morning breeze touched the nape of his neck, damp and salty. It was Dan's car was pulled into Duck's gravel driveway and it was his voice calling his name. Duck waved but his hand dropped when he saw the paper crumpled in Dan's fist and the wild, grieving anger in his eyes as he came close. "Duck?"
Duck's shirt wasn't clean and he wasn't used to having anyone here and he didn't want - he didn't want to do this today. His own copy of 'The Sentinel' was on his porch, still in its paper wrapper, lying untouched by his bare feet. "Why did you buy -?"
"They're not there!" Dan long stride wasn't anything like the shuffle Duck had seen that day on the bridge. He rounded the raised garden bed Duck had built for his mother, that she'd never used, then bounded up the stairs and shook the paper in front of Duck's nose. "There's nothing!"
There was a headline, half visible in Dan's hand, 'Scandal Splits Comm-'
"No names?" he wondered. Everyone still knew, everyone had always known what went on at the Watch, who went there, but Duck knew that was different from black and white proof. Everyone could still chose to look away.
"No," Dan's voice was stricken his adam's apple bobbed sharply. "No, no names. No one would've known it was me! I didn't - I didn't have to tell her!"
"I guess not," Duck scrubbed tiredly at his face with his forearm and turned away. He wanted a shower, he thought about airbrushes and phone messages and what Monday might be like. Different from what he'd figured, maybe. "Guess we - don't have to worry about a parade then, huh?" Duck still had his banners to finish up. The festival was still happening, even with Carol French gone; Deena had taken it over and life was going to go on, no matter what who in the paper, or wasn't.
"Come in, if you want," he said softly, padding back to his living room. He didn't think Dan would. Duck figured he might not be seeing Dan again. It looked like there wasn't anything holding them together except names in a paper.
"Duck, wait," Dan's shoes were loud on the old wooden floors as he clattered up behind Duck and roughly grabbed him. "Wait!"
"What?" Duck shouted as he twisted away, shirt stretching in Dan's fist but Dan followed him, pushing him, crowding him against the wall. He didn't want this and then Dan kissed him hard. It wasn't like the other kisses they'd shared, this was mashed lips and biting teeth and the hard, angry heave of Dan's chest against his.
"Fuck me," Dan said into Duck's mouth then kissed hard enough to hurt. "Fuck me!"
"No!" Duck pushed him away, even if he didn't quite let go of Dan's jacket, even if Dan's hand was still stretching his T-shirt all out of shape. He didn't want it . . . not like this. He could feel the tremors in Dan's arm, the shaking against his fingers and Dan's eyes were still desperate, angry and hopeless. "No," he said again, softly this time, and cupped his hand under Dan's elbow. Dan squeezed his eyes shut, fist tight in Duck's shirt, silent and shaking. Duck watched the slide of his adam's apple as he swallowed once, then again.
"Not like this. Come on," Duck said, pulling gently. "Come here."
He towed Dan across his living room and to the bedroom where Dan's feet stopped and he stared at Duck when he dropped his hand and pulled off his shirt. The light falling through the wide back windows was still morning cool and Duck shivered, looking at the rumpled sheets on his bed instead of at Dan's face. His bed had been his mother's bed, she'd died in it, his father had built it and he used to think of a wife and children in it. All the years he'd slept in it, no one else had. Skin prickling hot and cold, Duck looked back at Dan and unzipped his jeans.
"I want to lie down with you," he said to Dan's open, stunned face. "Can we lie down? Together?"
Dan's nod was shaky as Duck reached to pull the newspaper from his clenched fist. Dan leaned to him and this time the kiss was gentle, close mouthed and soft on Duck's cheek. He turned his head and they kissed again.
"Yes?" Duck said.
"Yes," Dan said back. "Yes."
Duck pushed Dan's jacket off and they watched his fingers as they unbuttoned Dan's shirt then spread it open to reveal narrow lines, flat brown nipples and a fan of sparse black hair. Duck ran his fingers down the line of hair while Dan's muscles jumped and shuddered under his touch. He curled his fingers around the gold-tone buckle of his belt and thumbed the clasp. Dan's breath was frantic and fast paced against his chin and both their pants were tented up at the fly. Duck rubbed his face against Dan's and slipped his belt free.
"Oh," Dan said and gripped Duck's hips, fingers cool and awkward above the sagging waistband of his jeans. Duck pulled Dan's fly down and breathed fast into his hair when he felt Dan's hands push at his jeans, shoving them lower. It should be dark, they should be standing under the trees of the Watch and they weren't. They were in Duck's room and there was daylight bright around them and Dan was going to lie down with him. Duck shuffled the last step to his bed and sat down, kicking his jeans the rest of the way off. He lay back in the sheets, under Dan's intent eyes, naked.
"Lie down with me," he murmured, folding the blankets back in invitation. "Come lie down."
Dan was shaking as he shucked his clothes, stumbled out of his shoes and let Duck fold him into the blankets. Dan's hands were cold on his back and the line of his dick was warm against Duck's thigh. The sheets whispered around them, reminding Duck of the trees at the Watch and the familiar length of Dan's dick in his hand reminded him of the first time, in the dark with the sea so close and Dan's closed, distant face edged in moonlight. This time, they kissed and Dan's eyes were open, watching him, and shiny with tears. Duck touched his face, touched Dan's tears, felt his dick leaking salt into his palm.
Dan turned his face into Duck's chest, his hitching breath was warm across his nipples and Duck spread his hands over Dan's back, feeling the jerk and surge of his sobs.
"Do you want to stop?" he asked, with Dan's hands digging into his hips and sunlight painting the marigold yellow walls of his bedroom with light. "Dan?"
"I'm sorry," Dan muttered, lips moving tickling Duck's skin as he talked. "I'm sorry. I just - I just loved her."
Duck stared hard at the ceiling, Dan's heart beating against his side, Dan's tears slipping hot down his ribs. "I know," he nodded, chin brushing Dan's hair. "I know."
Words spilled out between Dan's honking, painful sobs, "I woke her up. I told her - as soon as I got home, I told her. I -"
"-knew she would be upset," Duck murmured, echoing Dan, remembering what he'd said before. He remembered the look in Dan's eyes then too and closed his arms hard around him. He cupped the nape of Dan's hand in his hand, eyes still on the ceiling. He wasn't hard, neither of them were hard anymore. "She told you to go to hell."
"I didn't want her to find out from the paper," Dan said. "I told her, I had to tell her because, everyone was going to know. I wanted to be the one to tell her."
"She left you," Duck said quietly. Dan's wife was gone, was not coming back
and Dan was shaking in his arms, crying for his wife and wishing he had never
told her anything important. "She's gone, Dan. She's gone."
"I didn't think she'd leave me," Dan's voice was torn, harsh against Duck's skin. Dan's wife was here in the bed with them, in Dan's words, in his breath. She was more here than Duck was, sounded like. "God, I needed her. I needed her to be strong for me. I needed her to stay with me. I needed her so much . . . .
She left me like this," Dan whispered. "And I don't know what to do now. I didn't have to tell her. She didn't have to know. No one had to know. Now it's too late."
There weren't any promises in Dan's body against his, or in his voice, and his words were for his wife, not for Duck. Duck's bed wasn't big enough for three and he closed his eyes against the false promise of the day. Rubbing his hands over Dan's back, he felt the sobs ease and the tears slow until Dan lay still on top of him, maybe asleep. Duck lay still, touching the sharp angles of Dan's shoulder blades, the dip of his spine and thought that this was the only time he would feel this skin, touch this man. So, he lay quietly and watched the shadows sway across the ceiling and held Dan close in his arms.
Dan started awake, coiling against Duck then sitting up. "Need a tissue," he said in a clotted voice. Duck dragged the Kleenex box off his nightstand and handed it over as Dan sat on the edge of the bed. His tip of his nose was bright red and he sounded like a wild goose when he blew his nose. Duck rolled over and rested a hand on Dan's back, pressing his fingers gently into lean muscle because, wanting his hand to be an anchor. Wanting his touch to be enough. He wanted Dan. He wanted Dan to stay. But he couldn't make him.
"Dan," he sat up beside him and waited until Dan looked up at his face. Their shoulders touched, a point of warmth in the cool room, and Dan shivered. Duck drew the sheets between his fingers, a bed was more than a wordless moment on a beach. It was anything. I could be everything. "I'm not your wife. She's not here in this bed. She won't be - she won't be in your bed ever again. Do you want me? In this bed? In your bed?"
Dan squeezed his eyes shut, damp lashes heavy and dark. Duck waited for him to get up and get dressed or - perhaps, maybe - not. He waited for Dan to chose - to really chose. He could walk away, he could turn away, if he wanted. Or he could stay. Duck ran his fingers over the worn threads of his sheets and watched Dan's face, waiting.
"Do you want this?" Dan asked, eyes flashing open abruptly. "Me?"
"Yes," Duck reached out to lace his fingers with Dan's. There was warm skin under his palm and a fine shiver in Dan's fingers; fear, love, life. "I want this. I want you."
"What I did," Dan said to the wall. "Everyone knows now -"
"So, we won't have to worry about hiding," Duck said, watching their hands, fitted close together. "That's not so bad is it, maybe? I thought you wanted this. I thought you did. I thought - I bought you flowers."
"We could leave. Go someplace new, someplace where no one knows us," Dan looked over at him and the blue of his eyes was like the horizon, far away from the island. Duck shook his head.
"You could leave," he said. Duck didn't want to spend his days staring across the sea, he didn't want to wait and wonder and know there would be no return. But he would not leave the island. "But you would carry it all with you. You can't leave yourself."
"I don't want to do that again, I don't," Dan said and touched the tight line of Duck's face with his thumb, smoothing at the pain there."Then don't leave," Duck said, his voice was raw, he knew that. He didn't care.
"Have you ever left?"He knew Dan didn't mean trips to the mainland for supplies or a day spent in a strange place with people you don't know. "I left after high school. I wanted to be a mechanic and work on racing cars, like the ones guys you see running out to change tires and fill oil when a driver races into the pit. I wanted to work on the best cars, the fastest cars.
"A Champion." Dan ran his hand up Duck's arm fingertips light on his tattoo, face solemn. Duck tipped his head side to side with a shrug.
"Not really. I lasted six months," he said. "Then I came back." He drew a circle on the sheets with his hand. "Everything out there goes so fast and never gets anywhere."
Dan's breath sighed against his skin just before his mouth touched Duck's arm, lips stroking his tattoo. Duck shivered, warm and cold; warm under Dan's mouth, cold and naked everywhere else. He had walked a long arc back to Wilby, Sandra had returned eventually and if Dan left - he'd never leave the island behind. He'd only leave Duck behind. It didn't seem a fair trade.
Dan's eyes lifted to his face, still red rimmed. His lips were still close enough to Duck's skin to feel, just not quite close enough to touch.
"Don't leave," Duck murmured, clasping their hands palm to palm, skin to skin, close enough to touch. "Don't leave me."
"Will you bring me flowers?" Dan said.
"Every day," Duck said, clear and strong, and drew Dan up and kissed him.
END (033005) (rev. 033105)