by Kim
Prompts were: "What the hell is he doing in my bed? Leather and Dawn"

What the hell is he doing in my bed? What was I thinking? I know the answer to that; I wasn't thinking. All I was doing was feeling. Too much pain and too much whiskey and I couldn't keep lying to him. I couldn't keep lying to myself.

So there he is, asleep in my bed. He's got his own pain. Those lies I've been telling both of us are a big part of his pain. I've known for a long time that he wanted to be more than my friend. Not that he ever did anything to give it away. He didn't have to do anything. Whatever this thing is between us, like so many other times, about things that didn't matter near as much, I just knew.

And, he knew I knew. Both of us hid behind friendship; him pretending that's all he wanted; and me pretending I didn't have a clue about the rest of it. But, last night neither one of us could pretend anymore. A bust that should have been easy, wasn't. Men who shouldn't have been walking the streets, were. Guns they shouldn't have had, they did. As bad as all that was, we wouldn't have stopped pretending if that was all that happened.

It wasn't. The worst was someone who shouldn't have died, did. Joe Becker was just a guy who took the wrong shortcut, down the wrong alley. He shouldn't have been there. He especially shouldn't have had his kid with him. That kid shouldn't be dead. But he is. A seven year-old kid is dead, because his dad cut through an alley, where the ATF was taking down a low level gun dealer. My team didn't shoot him; Mikey fucking Dwyer did that. I think Mikey and his boys, were almost as shocked as my team was, when we all realized he'd shot a kid. We didn't even have to fire our weapons. "ATF! FREEZE!" and men who hadn't moved a muscle, or made a sound, were taken into custody, easy as pie.

My team held it together. We were cool and professional. Josiah and Nathan stayed with Joe Becker every minute, driving him to the hospital, and then taking him home to tell his wife that their kid wasn't coming home. I've been told that I'm a brave man, but that's a different kind of courage. I think, maybe I had it once, but not anymore. Now, I leave that to men who don't remember another little boy.

Buck was there beside me, just like he was there beside me four years ago and just like four years ago I pushed him away. Buck really is the best friend I ever had, but sometimes, I can't stand to be around him. He remembers them. He reminds me of them. As much as I still love them, sometimes I can't stand to be reminded of them.

That's why it's Vin in my bed, and not Buck. Buck is part of that time. He's like Sarah. The two of them were always laughing. They got along so well that sometimes I got jealous. I'd wonder if she'd met him first . . . Then Adam came along; and Buck was the same way with him as he was with Sarah. Adam and Buck laughed all the time. I knew what I'd have known all along, if I'd got my head out of my ass sooner; Buck and Sarah loved each other, because they both knew the other one loved me. Neither one of them would ever have done anything that would hurt me. Buck was just like Sarah in that way.

Vin is nothing like Sarah. Well, he wouldn't ever do anything to hurt me, either, but that's it. Vin is older than a man his age should be. Sarah didn't seem to get any older, in all the years I knew her. Whenever I looked at Sarah, I saw that laughing girl with eyes just for me, beautiful green eyes that sparkled. The night Adam was born, something in her changed. I'm not even sure what it was, mother love, I guess. She didn't look any older to me. She just looked . . . I don't know . . . different, but the same. Maybe it was me who changed.

Vin is brown and strong and weathered. He's tough and dependable. He's quiet, and I don't have to tell him things. He just knows. He doesn't want to talk things over, like Sarah did. Vin is like worn leather. He's comfortable, and strong, and comforting, and he's got his own kind of beauty.

It's not like Sarah's beauty. Sarah was like . . . like . . . lace. That's how I remember her, airy, and light, and delicate, and exquisitely beautiful, with a strength that wasn't apparent. Sarah had the kind of strength that you don't see. You just see how beautiful she is . . . was.

That's why last night, after all the bullshit was over; after the reports were filed; after Mikey fucking Dwyer and all his boys were in jail where hopefully they'll spend the rest of their lives; last night I stopped lying.

We started out at the saloon with the rest of the boys, but we didn't stay long. Just long enough to have one drink to the memory of one little boy. That other little boy, I wouldn't think about, not then, not there. We stayed long enough to make sure that they gave Inez their keys. I gave her enough money to cover cab fare for the five of them, and enough money to cover them all getting drunk enough to need a cab.

JD was the only one who said anything about us leaving so early. But he shut up pretty quick, when Buck elbowed him and told him to mind his own business. Buck gave me a look, and I knew that he knew why I couldn't be there for that party. He knew why I couldn't be there with him. He knew why I needed Vin with me. If JD ever stops to think about it, he'll probably figure it out. Hell, all of them will probably figure it out. We'll cross that bridge if we come to it.

So, last night, we came back here, we drank, and we didn't talk. I let myself think about that other little boy . . . and a laughing girl with eyes just for me. I let myself think about a man too old for his years, and not lying to either one of us anymore.

The sky is getting lighter now. Dawn is coming. He'll be awake soon. All the reasons this was a bad idea will still be there. Maybe when I'm completely sober, they'll seem as important as they did before that fucked-up bust.


The End

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