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Amicitia concero omnis
 Post subject: For Every Lonely Moment
PostPosted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 1:04 am GMT 
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Lonely hours passed, spent in solitude in the small cabin, with the mountain winds tumbling down the sides, buffeting the small structure until the timbers creaked and moaned. But that was the only sound. For miles around, there was no one. No familiar sounds of cars rattling down paved streets, so sounds of newspaper boys on street corners, or police cars, or gunfire. None of the sounds that he was so used to, that had become so ingrained in his life that he only noticed them in their absence. It was a strange, soft quiet now. The buildings had been replaced by the crags of the mountain side, the forest that engulfed it. The rowdy chatter of a smoky bar with the sporadic chatter of wild birds.

There was, of course, a town nearby—about an hour or so walk from the cabin, down the side of the mountain—and it was there that Danny gathered his supplies. The food he would need, the simple ingredients that he couldn’t manage to grow. He didn’t bother to go to the butcher, as game was plenty enough. Beyond the weekly trek, he had almost no other contact for a month and a half. Even that contact was somewhat awkward, and quiet. He only spoke as much as necessary and minded his own. After all, he wasn’t there to socialize.

At times it was difficult, some more so than others. The nights were particularly bad, with the sheets cold and the silence of his small room and lack of breath against his bare back. The first few he had spent sitting on the side of the bed, a glass of whisky in hand and eyes distant. It got easier, but only just. He began to sit out on the porch more and more often at night, letting what few sounds there were take over his senses and drown out the need of company. It was strange to feel so alone and yet be so surrounded by life. He’d taken walks, now and then, in the light of the moon that managed to seep through the canopy—it had been beautiful, and he found himself thinking less and less, reflecting on whatever life he had left in St Louis, less. The sheer beauty of the forest at night helped to cleanse that, somehow. Perhaps, were he a religious man. . . But no; he was no such thing.

His self-imposed solitude ended, however, with a storm his fifth week there. He’d only gone down for supplies again, to the small grocery that sold nearly all of what he needed. As always, the same woman was working the counter, her red hair twisted up in a loose bun, fly-aways framing her somewhat sharp, but kind face. She smiled at him, as always, and he nodded his thanks, turning to make his way out into what had graduated from the mild shower it had been on his way down, to something more torrential. Looking out at the grey curtain of rain, he took a breath, readying to open the door, his hand on the doorknob—

A gentle tug on his sleeve stopped him. He blinked, looking around behind him to find the woman and his ear twitched in curiosity.

She smiled, amused. “You ain’t from around here,” she murmured, looking past him to the rain, “Are ya?”

“No, why?” It was perhaps blunt, perhaps somewhat harsh, but he wasn’t there to make friends, either.

Still, the woman didn’t seem to take it to heart. “When th’sky looks like that, we’re ‘bout to get a downpour the likes to make Noah happier with his own flood.” She shook her head, releasing his sleeve and putting her hands on her hips. “You come down th’mountain, right? That trail gets washed out in a rain like this—yer safer stayin’ the night here.”

It was hardly what he had planned, but then Danny could certainly see the logic in it as lighten split the sky, closely followed by thunder that nearly shook the small store. He sighed, dropping the sack of his supplies onto the counter again. “Well, shit,” he muttered, running a hand through his still-damp hair. “Ya know ‘nywhere I could stay, then?”

That question had her hesitating for a moment, before gesturing for him to follow her. “You can stay here, ‘bove th’shop,” she said over her shoulder as she opened the door behind the counter with a key. “There’s a guest rooms on the third floor, above my rooms. . .”

She led him up the stairs, past the first flat and door—presumably to her own quarters—up to the third floor, where she stopped and used another key to open it. She held it open for him, stepping in after him. It was slightly dusty, as Danny looked around, and it seemed as though this was the first time it had really been unlocked in possibly a year. The décor was quaint and simple enough, though somewhat bare, not that he expected anything homier. He wondered briefly who had used it before him, but didn’t ask as he turned to her.

“Thank ya,” he murmured, nodding lightly.

Another smile, though there was something in it this time, something that he couldn’t catch before she turned to make her way back down the stairs.

Danny watched her retreating back, curiosity stirring in his gut for the first time in weeks, in more than weeks, as he wondered just what had prompted her to show a stranger such kindness. After a moment, however, he simply shook his head and closed the door, intent on sleep and preparing for tomorrow’s hike up the mountain to what was now his home.

It wasn’t to be, however.

He awoke the next morning to a quiet rap on the door, and the woman standing on the landing with an apologetic smile and news of the washout of the main road up the mountain.

“Yer stuck here for a few days, I’m ‘fraid,” she told him, motioning that he should follow her down the stairs. It was nearing noon now. He followed, having been awake and dressed for hours already. She stopped at her own landing, opening the door for him. “C’min, have some breakfast.”

He ducked his head, stepping in, ears folding lightly. “Thank ya, ma’am—”

“Elise,” she corrected. “Elise Miller, no need for formalities.”

He managed a small smile as he stepped into the kitchen, sinking into a kitchen chair. “Elise,” he murmured. “I’m Danny. Ya didn’t have ta do this, y’know. . .”

Already she had bustled over to the stove, mixing the batter she had previously made and let set before she had gone up to fetch him; she laughed. “Well, I wanted to. Besides—” She glanced back at him. “—Company is always nice while my husband is at work.”

That was a minor surprise to Danny. She was married then? Strange that she would invite him into her home, then. Still, he didn’t bother to dwell on it as he watched her pour the batter into the pan. “I can’t say I’ve had much company lately.”

She didn’t look at him as she watched the air rise through the batter as it heated. “Oh? So you live up there alone, then? When did ya move in?”

“Couple weeks ‘go—my Pops owns it, really, but I. . .needed ta get away fer a while. Sort shit out.”

At that, she did turn to look at him; something on her face—was it longing? Understanding?—at his words. “Oh. Well. . .yer welcome here any time, if you want company,” she told him, turning back to flip the pancakes.

Danny chuckled lightly. “Yer husband won’t mind?”

“Thomas isn’t really here much,” she answered, back still to him. He didn’t bother to comment, her tone having been rather uninviting of such a comment. The rest of the small meal passed in casual talk and so on, shying away from the more treacherous waters of personal information.

Soon enough, the small talks became habit, Danny finding that he had missed such conversation, and contact with another human. They spent their mornings talking, and in the afternoon, he would find some excuse to help her in the small general store, be it stocking or cleaning. Their talks ranged from all things, be it political (though neither had all that much care for the topic) to musical or the general state of the country. And always, every day, she asked him, slipped into a conversation to catch him off guard, what had brought him so far from St Louis. Asked him what he was attempting to sort out. And every time, he would make some passing comment, or change the subject. And so it went that night, with Thomas away in the neighboring town where he would be until morning, getting some sort of package.

“Why are ya here, Danny?” she asked, hand on her hip as she leaned back against the counter, the man in question once more sitting at the kitchen table.

For once, there was no immediate answer. It had been two weeks now since this had begun and in those two weeks, he had learned quite a bit about Elise—he’d learned that her husband wasn’t the particularly kind variety, had learned that she’d once wanted to be a school teacher and had even studied to be such before Thomas had sank his claws into her. She’d wanted children as well, but as Thomas hardly was home, there wasn’t much chance of that either. She was trapped, and Danny couldn’t help but feel for her, couldn’t help but sympathize with her position that he had once known himself.

He sighed lightly. “If ya got ‘ny whiskey, I’ll tell ya,” he finally said.

The answer had shocked her to silence for a long moment, but she nodded quietly, turning and pulling down a bottle from behind the baking powder in the top cabinet and setting it in front of Danny on the table. He nodded, thanking her for a moment, taking a long pull, before setting it down and beginning his story. He didn’t tell her everything, but the barebones at least. “My lover. . .I. . . I fucked up, wit him.,” he muttered, eyes to his knees. “I’ve been. . .takin’ him for granted, pinin’ over someone I shouldn’t be. He deserves bettah, so. . .I came out here, tryin’ ta. . .get perspective.”

For a long moment, she was quiet, moving closer, leaning past him to take the bottle and take a long drink. Then: “Have you found any? Perspective, I mean.” She began to pull back, but a hand on her wrist stopped her, and she looked to him.

“I don’t know yet,” he murmured, something flickering through his eyes as his hand slipped from her thin wrist. “I don’t. . .know what m’lookin’ for, ‘xactly.” Something seemed to beg for her to show him, something that craved the touch of another person, some weakness he couldn’t overcome.

Her hand was smooth as it caressed his whisker-rough cheek, moving back to his neck as her lips soon followed, pressing lightly to his throat, moving down until her forehead was pressed under his chin, and her fingers curled a little into the small hairs on the back of his neck. She didn’t speak, and he agreed that words were hardly needed for this—mutual silence, mutual need. He pulled her closer, fingers digging lightly into her back until she pulled away, though only enough to catch his hand and pull him to his feet, towards the bedroom. Neither cared as they fell to the sheets, still mussed from the morning. His lips to hers, to her hands on his skin. His fingers fumbling with the ties on her dress, sitting up enough to pull it over her head before kissing her neck and nipping at her shoulders, her fingers tugging at his clothes until they were both in a similar state of undress.

His fingertips were rough, calloused from years of handling guns, and hers were smooth, running over his scars, down his back and pressing into the small of his back as he arched into her, pulling her hips closer as he did. It wasn’t long before their bodies were slick with sweat and Elise gasped lightly, holding him close, knowing he needed the proximity, needed to feel close to someone for a moment. He breathed against her neck, panting for a moment, face pressed to her skin, her hand moving to the back of his head, holding him, comforting where his lover could not.

Let me be your lover for tonight. Let me help you, so you can return to him, to the man you love. . .and maybe. . .just maybe, you can help me, too. . .

Pressing hips closer, a moan, fingers clutching, breaths mingling in thick air and the rush, the rush, the rush. . .

I’ll be what he isn’t, Elise—I’ll love you, for tonight, till I leave. . . We’ll help each other and nothing more.


((OOC here.))

_________________
Play it across the table
What if we steal this city blind?
If they want anything, let 'em nail it down.
— Carl Sandburg


Det tog 25 år att ens komma så här långt och jag ser en framtid där jag kunde bli något stort...

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Amicitia concero omnis
 Post subject: Re: For Every Lonely Moment [Solo]
PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:39 am GMT 
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Rarely after their trysts did Danny stay for long. Long enough to rest, to catch his breath. To calm himself, Elise laying partially curled beside him, head pillowed on his chest. He would run his fingers through her hair, and she would kiss his chest and he would imagine that it was Billy laying beside him in the dark and it would feel more like home. With each time, however, it became harder to image that it was so, and the more he began to long for Billy’s warmth, and his kisses. After, neither spoke, both living in their own world, where it had been their respective lovers, and not someone who was very nearly a stranger.

And then something would break the spell, and Danny would shift, Elise would move onto the mattress, and he would simply get up, get dressed, and return to the upstairs rooms. Always on nights when Thomas was out of town—which tended to be every other night, sometimes for days at a time.

Two weeks after the storm, word came that the roads were clear enough. The goodbye was a strained one, but they both felt it necessary. Thomas had seemed to suspect, though there was no evidence. Better to at least gain some distance. Returning back to their separate silences, and their own longings—but then, perhaps it was better that way.

Of course, he still had to go to town for supplies every few days.

They didn’t bother with beds on those days. The wall in the back room worked well enough for their purposes; Danny simply rested his nose in the crook of his neck as Elise purred, her arms around his neck. It was dark in the back room, as they both preferred it, and the only sound was their slowly calming breathing. Danny’s hands slid up her thigh, resting on her bare hip, then up to her back, holding her closer.

He sighed lightly, shuddering somewhat. “I should go back,” he murmured, eyes still closed so he wouldn’t be looking to her rust-brown fur and could see only familiar black instead.

“To the cabin?” Her grip tightened a little, curling into his hair as though she already knew the answer. “Thomas won’t be back till later. . .”

It was almost difficult for him to pull away, but he managed it. “No, Elise. Back home, to St Louis. You know that.”

She did. Her gaze was lowered, however, ears folded against her hair; he knew she didn’t like the idea of his leaving and that it stung mildly, that she would be losing her confidante and comforter. “Yea, I know,” she mumbled, fingering the collar of his shirt, running her finger along the edge of his tie. “I’ll miss this, though.”

His hands removed themselves from her waist and touched her arms instead, following them up to her neck before he kissed her gently, knowing she needed the comfort. “I know, an’ I ain’t going quite yet,” he said as he pulled back, setting his forehead against hers. “But there’s always someone else for this.” Another thought entered his mind and his expression hardened a bit. “An’ if ya evah need a place ta stay. . .ya can come find me in Louis.”

There was the faint shock of surprise in her eyes as they met his again before she gave a small smile. “Thank you.”

He released her neck then, after one last kiss to her forehead, and stepped back. Suddenly the warmth that had been held between them began to fade as each one fixed their respective apparel to hide any evidence of what they had done. A suddenly moment of levity struck then as Danny bowed, opening the door for her and Elise couldn’t help but chuckle, taking up her dress to daintily step through the doorway and into the store again. She shook her head at him as he shut the door behind himself, coming around to the main floor with a quiet grin while she went to flip the sign on the window back to ‘open’ again.

“You have got ta be th’strangest drifter we’ve evah had,” she mused, moving to lean her elbows on the counter to study him.

That only brought about a snort from Danny. “One of a kind, darlin’.”

The spark of mischief that entered Elise’s eyes, however, died in another moment as the shop door opened, the bell clanging mutedly. It was the quickest death that Danny had ever seen, the happiness that had previously been in her eyes, and it wasn’t too terribly hard to figure out who had just walked in, even if he had never seen the man before. Thomas Miller wasn’t a terribly large man, but he was sturdy enough to hold his own, and the way he swaggered into the store certainly showed it. Thomas was generally the sort to threaten and boast, trying to recapture glory days when his knees both worked properly, and when he couldn’t, taking it out on whoever happened to be nearest. Elise always seemed to bear the brunt of it; Danny had seen the faint bruises from where he had gripped her arm too tightly. He’d let it lie, against his better judgment, at her insistence, but now, looking at the man who had likely caused those bruises, Danny was finding it increasingly difficult not to act on his impulse to kill him.

Elise seemed to sense this and cleared her throat, tilting her head. “Thomas?” she asked, “Yer back early—is somethin’ wrong?”

“Need some more money,” was the grumbled reply as he pushed past Danny and headed for the door to the stairs and the rooms beyond. The door shut behind him with quite a bit more force than was necessary and Elise flinched at the sound.

It was all Danny could do to keep from going after the man but a look from Elise certainly helped; something in her eyes clearly warned him not to do anything. He could feel the frustration welling up in his chest, burning lightly and he wasn’t certain that he could stand to stay in the same space with Thomas so near and not kill him. He sighed, running a hand through his hair in frustration. “Hell, think. . .I should go,” he muttered.

Something flickered in Elise’s eyes at that, but she nodded. After all, she knew he wouldn’t be there forever and she would have to get used to it again. However, a moment later, she reached out across the counter to catch his sleeve. “Wait—I jus’ remembered. . .yer mail.”

Danny blinked, ears folding lightly as Elise turned and pulled out the letter from the mail slot, handing it over to him. He looked at the envelope, his fingers brushing over it and wondered lightly who it was from. Still, he didn’t dare opening it yet—he would wait until he was safe in the secluded confines of the little cabin. “Thanks,” he murmured, offering Elise the briefest of smiles before starting out the door.

Once back to the cabin, the letter became the elephant in the room which Danny wasn’t entirely sure he could stand to look at. I had to be from one of three people, that much he was certain of—one thing he wasn’t certain of, was if he was ready to open it and see which of the three it was. Still, as he sat across the room, eyes constantly returning to the table top where it rested, he couldn’t help but feel that this was foolish. That whatever was in the letter wouldn’t change no matter how long it sat there unread, and he might as well end this self-imposed suffering concerning it.

The chair creaked with the sound of old wicker rubbing against each other as he got to his feet and made his way to pick up the envelop delicately between two fingers, looking at the handwriting and frowning at the familiarity. Billy? It was perhaps the last of the three he had thought he would hear from; Sascha had already sent a short note two weeks earlier, wishing him well in his own short, terse way. Danny knew better than to assume that all was forgiven between them, but he took the note as meaning they were at least on the mend and he’d sent his own short (though slightly longer) note back.

But Billy? The one that he had perhaps hurt the most, the one he wasn’t certain where he stood with, more so than Sascha. He drew in a breath, opening the letter carefully, for some reason not wanting to rip the envelope as he did. He slipped out the folded white paper and opened it, hesitantly scanning the familiar writing before reading in earnest.

It was simple, somewhat shallow about the weather and the animals and such, but Danny knew that for Billy to send it, then he must be mending at the very least. That it was closer now to the time when Danny should return, should see if he could ease back into his former life, albeit with changes made. And now, reading Billy’s slightly stiff writing, Danny felt some small hope that he was redeemable somehow.

    April 29, 1927, St. Louis.

    Danny,

      Freddie gave me the address you had provided in the notes you left, and I am hoping I wrote it correctly on the envelope.

      He is tending to the horse and the eagle, and from what he has been telling me they are still well, though restless from lack of exercise; he is not sure how to provide it and if you feel inclined to reply he wishes to know how. I will not have him playing with Kaete however. Neither of us know anything about handling eagles.

      Animals aside, things are just as you left them. Spring is really taking a hold, and I'm grateful for the gravel in the yard keeping it from turning in to a pool of mud what with the slush. Once the sun has gotten to shining a few more days, it should be almost gone though.

      Should you need to write back, I wrote the return address on the back of the envelope, just in case.

    Billy

Danny read through three times more before sitting back and smiling, though it was tainted and sad. He got to his feet soon after and retrieved a piece of paper, an envelope, a pen, and a tumbler of whiskey. He took a sip and began to write.

    Billy,

      Thank you for writing, and for the address.

      It’s good to hear the animals are well. As for Samson and Käthe, if Freddie just rides Samson around the field for a while, he should be okay—and Käthe really does need to be let out. Han should know how, I’ve shown him before. If Freddie wants to try, see that he has a bag of meat-strips, and wears a glove.

      Its cold up here, but the hunting is good. I—

He paused his writing, biting a lip. What more could he put. He couldn’t say what he wanted to, that every day was hard without the other man, that he had a permanent coil of tension just below his stomach, in his gut. That he missed the house, the animals, Freddie, Tommie. . .and Billy most of all. He missed Sascha, and the city-sounds of St Louis as a constant thrum in the background. He sighed, taking a longer swig of whiskey and savoring the burn for a moment before putting the pen back to the paper.

      It’s quiet up here, kind of strange not to hear the city. I’ve been reading again. You might like this new author—Hermann Hesse—but you would have to get Sascha or Pops to translate for you, as it is only in German. Der Steppenwolf was good.

Again he trailed off, unable to think of anything more to write. He wouldn’t rush the other man, wouldn’t try to come back before he was wanted, though he wanted so dearly to.

      If you write, I’ll always answer.

    Danny

He sat back, draining the last of the whiskey, and looked over what he had written. It was nearly as stilted as Billy’s, and he shook his head. It would have to do, for now. He blew on the ink, making certain that it was dry before folding it carefully and slipping it into the envelope, addressing it and sealing it. He'd send it in the morning.

The silence was nearly deafening suddenly and he swallowed, getting to his feet, leaving the envelope on the table, and slipping out the door to the porch. It was beginning to get dark and the forest was flecked with gold from the setting sun. It was beautiful, but somehow he missed the beauty, seeing only the dark spots beneath the leaves. He stepped down, almost hesitantly, and moved through the branches, fingertips lingering on the rough bark as he passed. He didn’t know where he was going, but it didn’t matter. He only needed to move, to clear the silence from his ears with the whir of cicadas.

_________________
Play it across the table
What if we steal this city blind?
If they want anything, let 'em nail it down.
— Carl Sandburg


Det tog 25 år att ens komma så här långt och jag ser en framtid där jag kunde bli något stort...

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Amicitia concero omnis
 Post subject: Re: For Every Lonely Moment [Solo]
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 5:31 pm GMT 
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The silence between letters was deafening. There was little that Danny could do to pass the time, really, beyond reading the books that he had found littering the small cabin. Still, they were only surface comfort and hardly distracted him from the long hours of waiting. Walking was also becoming a strong habit in him; it allowed him to think on things as he followed the winding trails through the trees. As it was, he had no idea if his weak gesture would be accepted or rejected and the anticipation and dread of the reply were wearing his nerves thin. There was also the fact that he was hesitant to go back to town. Too hesitant to see Elise again.

Guilt was welling in his stomach at the very thought of the woman. They had both used each other, but that was not what had him in knots. No, it was that he had done, again, the very thing that had him coming out to the mountains for in the first place. It was meant to be seclusion, here. A place to think, not a place to once again be unfaithful to the man who certainly deserved more, better. It had driven Danny to the bottle again, though there was only one in the cabin, and when it was finished he dare not go into town for more. He was left with sobriety and guilt on his mind and the new habit was the only thing left to do.

Once more as he walked, his mind had supplied that Billy should simply find someone else. Should move on, that his choice was wrong. It seemed to be the default for his thoughts on the subject, to make it Billy’s problem instead of his own. However, without the alcohol to play the small voice in the back of his mind that answered yes to everything, he realized something.

Perhaps Billy was not the one that needed to change.

Perhaps it was he who should change. And why not? He was not the same person that he had been five years ago. Not even the same person he’d been a year ago—not by far. Maybe. . .it was time to try to settle down now? He had the house, after all, had kids. Of a sort, at least, in Freddie and Tommie.

The revelation was perhaps more startling than it should have been; he stopped, sitting heavily on an old log, eyes scanning out over the leaf-littered forest floor. Could he change at all, he wondered. It would change so many things, in all likelihood. Already, this had changed him and he felt less erratic. Stable, for once—and perhaps it was from that very feeling that he was running. He had never known stability, really, and so it was hardly surprising when he thought about it. He rubbed his face with a soft groan. He’d been such an idiot.

Still, it took another day before he dared to go into town to see after the mail, and even then he stopped to eat at the small diner first. Still, when he finally stepped into the general store, Elise was there, as he knew she would be. The smile she flashed him made something in his chest tightened, but he hid it with a smile as he sauntered to the counter, leaning his elbows against it.

“Hey, darlin’,” he said by way of greeting, “Any mail fer me?”

Elise nodded, reaching back to pull out another envelope. “Yea, been ‘ere since yestahday. You ain’t been by in a good while. . .”

Danny knew well enough what she meant, but he only shrugged. He knew she was asking for more than simply his whereabouts. She was asking why he was back, if he had changed his mind. He perhaps didn’t know every small thing about her, but between reading in general, and the time he had spent with her, he could understand at least that.

“Yea, I know. Jus’ came to get th’mail.” It hurt somewhat to see the resignation in her eyes but her smile never faltered. A brilliant actress. He set his hand over hers, briefly. “Sorry, Elise.” He allowed the touch to linger for a moment before she nodded and he pulled away, giving her a wave as he left.

The walk back to the cabin was hurried; the letter seemed to burn in Danny’s hand and it quickened his breath. The door was finally reached, opened, and closed carelessly behind him as he went to the desk, sitting and setting the letter in front of him. Again, it was a long moment before he dared to actually open it. He took a breath, pulled it out, and opened it.

    Danny,

      Following Han’s instructions, Freddie has somehow survived caring for Käthe (apologies for my misspelling) though he was not without certain damage after their first journey to the great outdoors. I think that she might be a bit heavy for him.

He chuckled a bit, shaking his head. That certainly seemed like it would be an issue, as the eagle’s wings were wider than the boy was tall.

    His interaction with Samson is far better however, and he walks him like he walks the dogs. It is quite the sight, him barely reaching above Samson’s legs with Deimos and Phobos (I looked up the spelling on their names, ever thought of changing them?) at his sides, both reaching quite high on his body. Bobby spends his days guarding Tommie, I think that dog is a lot older than we first thought him to be and I believe it is actually creeping up on him.

    I bought the book you recommended, but of course I understand none of it.

That gave him pause, however, and he paused, rereading the words to be sure, his fingers running over it as though they would know better than his eyes. Billy bought the book? The book which was in German, a language he professed to know none of?

    I have talked neither to Lin nor Sascha since you left. I have managed to make myself an understanding of the plot, but have not got the perseverance to try my hand at translating on my own.

    I think that I would need your help.

    Best wishes,

    Billy

Danny stared, reading over the last line over and over. I think that I would need your help. He knew Billy well enough. He knew that the man must have spent hours slaving over the letter, carefully writing each word—he could see it in the script and preciseness of the lettering. There was no way that those words would have slipped in without Billy’s express permission. Hope was beginning to twist in Danny gut then. Those words. . . He could hardly believe that they were truly written there on the page.

Billy wanted him back.

He had been forgiven—at least enough to be allowed to return.

He wasted no more time. The letter had already been waiting for two days, had been in the post for god knows how much longer than that, and Billy was waiting. It was good, at least, that he hadn’t brought so many things with him and the packing didn’t take nearly as long as he would have thought—only an hour later he was already pulling into the town. Elise deserved a goodbye, and he needed to give her his address, in case any more mail came for him before he could tell people he was back. Beyond that, he wanted her to have a safe place to go, should she need it.

Certainly surprise was to be expected and it was exactly what Elise showed when she saw the man for the second time that day. A frown tugged at her lips as he walked in, though it lessened when she noticed the small smile he sported. “Danny?”

“Sorry ta bothah ya twice in a day,” he said, stopping a few feet from the counter, hands in pockets. “But I thought I should tell ya—I’m goin’ back home, ta Louis.”

“Oh?” It was a shock, he could see, but she was strong and already she was starting to move on, file away whatever feelings she had. “Well. . .then I suppose I’ll see ya ‘round, maybe.” She turned from the counter, brushing a slightly curled lock of red hair from her face as she did. Danny had the sneaking suspicion that she wasn’t even paying attention to the items she was reshelving, however.

He sighed, setting a scrap of paper on the counter. “Here—mah address in Louis, in case ya need a place ta stay, ‘er somethin’.” He turned and started out again, but stopped when she called after him; he glanced back.

“That perspective ya were lookin’ for,” she murmured, back still to him. “Did ya evah find it?”

A moment of hesitation, a small smile again. “Yea. Yea, I think I did.”

The drive back to St Louis was made in record time, and Danny hardly stopped or remembered it when he finally did return. It was strange, the city—both familiar and strange at once now. He’d been gone for too long, he felt. He wasn’t even sure how long it had really been, as the days and nights had begun to run together in the end, helped by the nightly glass of whiskey and the long walks. The cars and sounds were the first things to hit him and winced at every car horn as they assaulted his ears.

It had been easy to forget how the city could whirl maddeningly around one when you were out in the country. Even then, he had only one goal on his mind as he directed the old truck towards the small home he had shared with Billy. Already, he could feel his chest aching, feel the longing that he had tried so hard to push down while he was away. The other man was the first and foremost thing in his mind now and all he truly wanted to see. His grip on the steering wheel was tight and his knuckles were whitening and he only wished he could coax more speed from the old engine, anything to get him there faster.

And yet. . .

When the truck pulled onto the last road before the house, he slowed to a crawl. He could see the house rise up in the distance, at the end, and suddenly his heart was fluttering with something nearing fear. Could he really face the man again? After everything he had done. . .

The lights were off when he finally pulled onto the gravel driveway and stopped the car. Billy and the boys were probably asleep; it seemed such a shame to wake them. Danny nearly turned the truck on and turned around right there. And yet, he was nearly there. This would be the hardest part of the whole thing and if he could only get past this. . . He took a deep breath, opening the truck door and stepping out onto the gravel for the first time in nearly four months. The dark was heavy around him, the perfect cover for hesitation, and his feet stopped halfway up the drive. No. . .not yet. He needed just a little more time.

He turned back, making his way around the side of the house to the barn instead. He would just check on Samson and Käthe first, then. It wouldn’t take long, he told himself, and he’d feel more relaxed perhaps—after all, the animals always had that effect on him and he would certainly need it now if was going to face Billy. The barn was a comforting sight, as it always had been to Danny throughout his life, and so it was now. There was a lock, but though he didn’t have the key, it hardly mattered to him—he picked it and slipped through.

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 Post subject: Re: For Every Lonely Moment [Solo]
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:25 am GMT 
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The house stood still and quiet, watching the proceedings of the former resident. No lights flickered in the windows, and there was no sounds from within. But the house was far from sleeping.

The truck had alerted the owner of the house, who for nearly four months had not slept soundly unless lulled to sleep by whiskey or warmth. The sound of the tyres crushing the pebbles and the engines soft murmuring, so out of the ordinary, was enough to rouse him. At first he thought he had imagined it, in a dream created one sound in to something else, but then he heard the squeak of breaks and how the engine died away. If a sound ended, it had surely at some point been there, and this had him wide awake in a moment.

At first, he didn't quite dare to move, listening to the soft crunch of each step, any second expecting there to be voices or taps of soles on wood when the driver would step on to the porch. But none came. And so, he lay there, listening, heart pounding but achieving nothing.

Realizing that the person might be headed for the backdoor, Billy forced himself in to movement and out of bed. He didn't pause as he grabbed a robe to wrap over his pyjamas and made for the closet. One of the few things Danny had seemed disinclined to bring was guns, and Billy knew that there was a rifle in the closet. For once, he even thought that Danny paranoia was at all a good thing as he fished out the rifle, checking to see if it was loaded as he headed towards the window to look out; like he had thought, there was a truck parked out there. Quickly he hurried out of the room.

Trying to think of the motives of the intruder and thus figure out who it was, Billy felt his hands shake a little in their grasp on the rifle. It was heavier than he remembered, only ever having held a rifle a few times. But at least, if it was heavy, he could use it for protection even if it jammed. Thoughts buzzing like mad flies, he couldn't for the life of him remember anyone who would have wanted them any harm, professionally or otherwise. No matter how he turned the cards over he only drew blanks, until he came to the backdoor and realized no one was there.

Samson.

At first, Billy thought he was going mad and imagining things where he stood panting, ready to raise the gun at nothing. But then he remembered the horse; horses didn't come for free, and if the driver hadn't been headed for the house, then the barn was the only viable option left.

As soundlessly as possible, Billy opened the backdoor just a crack —thanking God he had oiled the hinges only days previous— and peeked out. Confirming his suspicions he caught someone just slipping through the doors of the barn. Swallowing deeply, Billy ventured out as silently as possible to follow.

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 Post subject: Re: For Every Lonely Moment
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 4:55 am GMT 
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Danny stepped carefully down the aisle, relaxing slightly as he neared the big horse. Though mostly he had missed Billy and Freddie, three had been a part of him that had missed the animals as well. After all, they had always been his comfort when no one else could help him. The old sawdust on the floor made no sound as he moved, but Samson seemed to be awake anyhow, whinnying lightly.

A small smile crept up on Danny's face, tired and worn, and he held out a hand to touch the Shire's muzzle, petting his forelock. Instantly, he felt a kind of calm that quieted all the near-panic that had been growing in him at the thought of facing Billy.

Then his sharp ears caught the sound of footsteps on gravel and he tensed, ears flicking. The barn door opened, but he couldn't bring himself to move, only to look over to the newcomer.

He must have made a sight, he realized too late. Thin, but not as thin as he once was; a five o'clock shadow that he had never before sported and which was leaning on the side of a proper beard, the stubble having passed acceptable length on the drive. Even his clothes were different; a simple white shirt and suspenders with a vest over it—all in all, he was nearly unrecognizable from the man who had left Louis those months ago.

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 Post subject: Re: For Every Lonely Moment
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:14 am GMT 
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Billy had tried to be quiet, holding his breath every time he heard the gravel shift under him and prick his bare feet, and cursing in his thoughts as the big doors gave away his being there. Quickly shouldering the rifle, the distinct sound of it being cocked soon followed the creaking of the door and the sound of bare feet on the floor of the barn.

All he saw was figure much bigger than himself at first, standing by Samson's box, and even then it was little more than a shadow amongst shadows; there was no light in the barn, except the moonlight that Billy himself was standing in, spilling through the open door. It didn't connect in his mind; the facial hair, the clothing. It was someone else, a stranger and intruder, and yet there was something in the eyes that kept Billy from aiming at the man's heart instead of in his shoulder.

"Step away from the horse." he ordered, the hardness in his voice as uncharacteristic as the neat clothing was on his unwanted guest, as he jerked his head a little to emphasize his demand. "I won't shoot if you get yourself out of here in an instant, and have enough decency to stay well away."

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 Post subject: Re: For Every Lonely Moment
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:23 am GMT 
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The smile that curled the 'stranger's' lips was sad and there was something hesitant in him now. He didn't speak right away, however—somehow it seemed fitting, right that Billy would have him at gunpoint. He lifted up his hands, stepping back from Samson, who neighed his displeasure at the whole scenario, stomping his hooves. Danny only took in Billy. The man seemed more haggard than he had before and something ached at the sight.

He sighed softly, dropping the hands then. "Ya don't recognize me," he murmured, even his voice somewhat different; it was tired, quiet. "Should'a 'xpected that, I s'pose. . ." And yet, it did sting somewhat. But then, Billy at least hadn't shot him.

Those eyes, however. . . Brilliant green and deep blue, the same as they had always been. "I kin go, tho, if ya want."

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 Post subject: Re: For Every Lonely Moment
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:37 am GMT 
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The voice had something in Billy faltering, and you could see that his posture became minutely less tense when he was distracted mentally. That voice— He tensed again when the hands were dropped though, expecting something to follow, But nothing did, just more words from that voice that made his heart stop, his breathing a bit harder.

But how could it be? That voice and those eyes in a strangers body. Had it been this long?

The barrel of the rifle wavered and then slowly came to be aimed at the floor, the hammer eased back.

"... You."

Not ready to name him yet, beginning to think it was a dream, or a nightmare. But his feet were frozen, cold against the cold floor, still aching from his walk on the gravel. The gun was heavy in his hands, and his heart lurched in to motion again with a thump that he had not felt in a very long time. It was real, and yet so surreal with this ghost coming back; Billy remembered the feeling from Argentina, when he'd seen Danny that first time. Like seeing a dead man.

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 Post subject: Re: For Every Lonely Moment
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 5:47 am GMT 
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Danny nodded lightly. "Me." He wasn't sure what else to really say. He was back, and the ball was in Billy's hands. The smaller man could ask anything of him and he would likely do it. He was wondering the same, however.

It was terribly strange to see the man he had missed for so long standing there, only a few feet in front of him. Close enough to touch, yet almost too far away to reach now. It hurt, that there was this distance between them. He could only stand, numb and aching and waiting for Billy to decided what would happen next.

"I. . .got yer letter," he said after another long moment. "I came soon as I did." Beneath the words, the meaning: I missed you so much. . .

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 Post subject: Re: For Every Lonely Moment
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 6:14 am GMT 
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Billy stood still and silent, until his feet hurt from the cold and his ears rung with what he was told. The processing was long, and he needed time to think. Couldn't answer and confront now. It was better that he was alone when he did, so that he was not in this tense and all too real situation; he felt like an apprentice with too little practice and experience being faced with the real thing. He needed time to plan and be sure it would be done right, before he could tackle the actual task.

"We should go inside."

The rifle lowered further to hang at his side, loosely held as he shifted his weight. His feet stuck disconcertingly to the floor.

"I'm freezing."

And then he was turning, leading the way out of the barn, eyes distant and hinting at a slight panic at the words Danny had woven in between his lines, like Billy had in his letter. The younger man wasn't sure how to face it now, after so long of trying to get back on his own; and acutely remembering how he had shared his bed with someone else without wanting to. He had nothing to be guilty for, nothing had happened, and yet the feeling was there all to readily. Glancing over his shoulder he nodded towards the door to have Danny follow him, taking a moment to take in the person that had suddenly become his lover, his friend... his all.

Strangely enough, that thought made Billy feel sapped for will and power.

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 Post subject: Re: For Every Lonely Moment
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 6:31 am GMT 
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When Billy turned, Danny waited a long moment before starting after him. He wouldn't get too close, would let Billy decide all. Still, he followed after, closing the stable doors behind himself. Words were writhing in his throat but he kept his mouth firmly shut. It wouldn't do to start talking outside—better to wait until they were indoors, where Billy would be warmer.

He'd seen the slight panic, had seen how his return had thrown the man for a loop and he suddenly wondered if he shouldn't have simply sent a letter first. Had it really been the best idea to show up like this? There was, after all, always the chance that he had read the letter wrong, and that Billy didn't want him back at all.

That was a painful thought in and of itself, not helped by the strange distance between them. It was hardly a stretch to imagine that Billy would not want him back, after everything that had happened.

But he would stay, until Billy asked him to go.

So long as there was hope, he would stay.

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 Post subject: Re: For Every Lonely Moment
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 7:06 am GMT 
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Billy padded his way carefully over the gravel, feet unused to the sharp sensation and his hands on occasion coming out to give him a bit of balance, as though that was what made the small pebbles hurt him. There was that tell-tale limp in his step that gave away he was not wearing his brace, but it was nothing that Billy noticed; his emotions or the dampening there of seemed to be more what he was focusing on as he stepped up to the back door. Opening it silently to not wake the boys he stepped in and held it open for Danny.

"You could... go in to the living room." voice kept low for the same reason as he'd been careful when entering. "I'm going to make some tea."

His silence was a bit unnecessary, as suddenly the door in to Freddie's room was nudged open. Out of there came the two mastiffs Danny had left in their care when leaving for Tennessee; apparently, Freddie had taken to them enough to keep them as bed-mates, because they were warm to the touch, and smelled rather like sheets and a sleeping boy.

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 Post subject: Re: For Every Lonely Moment
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 7:16 am GMT 
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The walk was tense for Danny. He could see the limp, could see that the small pebbles were causing the smaller man discomfort. Before, he would not have hesitated to just pick Billy up and carry him inside, but now. . . Now he was certain that the gesture would be even less well received.

"Yea, all righ'," he murmured, though he paused when the dogs made their appearance. He couldn't help the smile that broke out on his face at the sight. It was an uncomplicated smile, unlike the one that he got from the sight of Billy—but then, it was difficult to have anything but an uncomplicated relationship with a canine. He dropped to one knee, opening his arms to the pair.

Deimos was the first to return, padding over with a small bounce in his step as he placed his paws on Danny's shoulders, licking at his face. Phobos, however, was more wary. He seemed to have taken it to heart that Danny had left them. Still, it wasn't long before he too came up to lick Danny's hand.

The pair did seem to realize to stay quiet however, and there was no barking, only a silent reunion that ended a few moments later when Danny stood up again, making his way quietly to the livingroom.

Even the livingroom seemed the same as it always had, and Danny swallowed, finding his usual chair and sinking down into it. It was strange, not to feel the press of wicker against his back. He didn't lean back, though, instead sitting with his elbows on his knees and back bent forward, hands clasped—waiting uncertainly.

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 Post subject: Re: For Every Lonely Moment
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 7:33 am GMT 
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Billy glanced back at the greeting of the dogs, for some reason feeling a slight resentment at the dogs at witnessing it, and he hurried to continue in to the kitchen. It was perhaps a bit of envy, that Danny would seem so genuinely glad at seeing the dogs when their own meeting had only prompted a tense and unhappy smile. And perhaps, it was an envy aimed towards the dogs and their ease in forgiving. They could accept being abandoned, if their owner just came back.

He couldn't.

Spending perhaps bit longer than what was necessary in the kitchen, warming water and filling the teapot with it and tea, he knew he was stalling, thinking. It was nice and mundane to be doing this, something he knew well and could do without having to wonder what his actions would cause or create. It was a nice relief. But soon enough, there was nothing more to do than to take two cups and the teapot in to the room and place them on the coffee table. Filling the cups and handing one to Danny, Billy couldn't lift his eyes from the floor, and sank down at the far end of the couch without having made eye contact again.

He looked so small, sitting there in the corner and looking in to his cup. And yet, it was also obvious even in the loose pyjamas that he wasn't at all as small as he had been when Danny had left. Not being able to move around as he once had been, lifting crates and taking walks suddenly having become rarities, had resulted in a weight-gain that though it was not dramatic in the slightest thanks to the newly won aversion to properly feeding himself, but still noticeable if you truly paid attention. It had been a long time coming, but with such a long time passed since they last saw each other it would perhaps not pass Danny by.

The prematurely aged face also had shadows under the eyes, giving away how badly he had slept, and that perhaps there had passed a few bottles of alcohol past those pale lips. The blue eyes were troubled and weary, but harder than four months ago.

Searching for words, it was clear that he was trying to say something, anything, but he was saved by the bell when Bobby came trotting over the floor. He paused in the door, having come from Tommie's room, and looked at the two before hesitantly wagging his tail. The dog walked over to Danny but only to sniff his hands before going to Billy, laying down across his feet with a sigh. Even Bobby seemed older than before Danny had left, the previously truly graceful movements slightly stiffer and slightly slower.

Billy looked at him, in- and exhaling as he leaned forward awkwardly to stroke the dog's back twice.

"... Was it a long drive?"

Finally, something had been croaked out.

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 Post subject: Re: For Every Lonely Moment
PostPosted: Sun Feb 06, 2011 7:43 am GMT 
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It was a sad sight they made now, Danny noted. The only ones who seemed unaffected where Deimos and Phobos. They were all getting older, and somehow he was only just noticing it. Billy's limp was worse, the man no longer quite as thin as he once was. It wasn't something Danny minded—Billy hadn't been overweight to begin with—but it was a sign that the man was hurting more than he had before.

Danny shifted back in the chair a little, holding the tea cup delicately, as though it would shatter if he tightened his grip. It seemed so strange to drink tea, now. . .

At the question, he glanced up. "Oh. . .naw. . .I s'pose nah." It had taken him all day, with only a limited amount of stops; he hadn't wanted to waste time. His voice trailed off, and there was little else he could say, though he knew that he couldn't let the conversation die so easily.

He took a breath. "How's. . .how's Freddie an' Tommie been?"

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