Harlequin's Slash Fic

Citizens

Title: Citizens
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Knockaround Guys
Characters featured: Matty/Taylor/Marbles
Category, Word count: Short story; 4241 words
Rating: R
Summary, Notes: This mob movie stars Barry Pepper as Matty, Vin Diesel as Taylor, and Seth Green as Marbles… How was I meant to resist that? And how else were the characters gonna pass the time while waiting around in Hicksville, Montana?
First published: 4 January 2008 on Harlequin’s Slash Site

 

Citizens

 

And so here they were in Hicksville, Montana, and all they had to do for now was wait. He and Taylor Reese were in their twin hotel room, each sitting on his own bed – Matty on the queen and Taylor on the single – legs stretched out, watching some hick tv show about hunting, and there was that old tension between them. They watched tv, they exchanged comments about the show, they waited. And Matty, for one, was skin–pricklingly aware of Taylor sitting there an arm’s length away, stretched out on his own bed, with nothing to do but wait. That old tension, familiar now to Matty but no less intense – in fact, even more intense now that he’d faced what it was – that tension singing along his every nerve. And he knew that Taylor – of course Taylor, forever aware of everything that was going down – Taylor had picked up on it long ago, and figured what it was, and every now and then he’d glance at Matty in the midst of it all, glance at him with those warm dark eyes of his, seeing every last bit of him, including that. Glance at him, and then lower his eyes, look away, knowing everything. Including that Matty Demaret was gay, queer, he liked men. Some goombah, he! Yet another reason why his father would never consider Matty to be a man. It even made sense, of a sort, to Matty. No wonder he couldn’t kill. He liked men. Love, if it ever came to him, would come in the shape of a man. He couldn’t kill a man, in the same way that his father couldn’t harm a woman. His queerness was a fact of life that his father knew he couldn’t change, but it disqualified Matty from ever graduating into manhood. It disqualified Matty from ever gaining his father’s approval.

Matty shrugged off that never–ending bitterness, not wanting to dwell. And yet, if not the bitterness, then all that he had here and now was the waiting and the warmth. The man sitting there only an arm’s length away. Taylor, who had followed Matty’s lead before now. And yet Matty couldn’t start something, he just couldn’t. No matter how much Matty’s skin prickled and his nerves sang, no matter how much his very soul yearned for that warm dark glance to be bestowed in the midst of their lovemaking, he knew the yearning had to remain unspoken. Not a secret, no, not any more, but an unspoken truth. Because two goombahs like them could hardly remain friends with that between them, and to Matty friendship was the most important thing in the world. Sometimes he cared even more for his friends than for his father’s respect. At least he could count on the one, if not the other. Never the other.

He firmly put those thoughts aside, for he was indeed about to prove himself to his father, his uncle, all of them. If he got this job done, then he was finally in, he was sure of it. He had to be, because there was nothing else for him, not any more. He’d given the regular world a go, and gotten nowhere. The finest college education, the cleanest life, nothing was enough when all it took was his father’s name to scare everyone off. Twenty something job interviews, zero results. No one would believe that Matty Demaret was his own man. Except for Taylor.

Ah, Taylor… Taylor, sitting there just within reach. Taylor, whom he knew he could count on. Taylor, with his warm dark glance that knew Matty, knew everything about him, and yet still the man was there at his side, standing firm. Taylor, who had always followed Matty’s lead, no matter what. Matty sensed that Taylor would say yes now, if Matty asked. He hadn’t always been as sure. In fact, in the early days when Matty was still sorting it out for himself, Matty had known the answer would be no. A polite, apologetic, gentle, honest no. Then one summer Matty had come home from college, and Taylor had said something about missing him, not quite in those words, but something about Brooklyn just not being worth anything much without Matty there, and Matty had suddenly suspected that Taylor wasn’t so certain any more. Which only made it worse, because they could be friends with a gentle, honest refusal between them, but the confusion and embarrassment of a maybe was harder to survive. Better to leave it unspoken than risk a clumsy attempt, a fumbled kiss, an aborted embrace. Better not to create a mortifying memory that would forever after stand in the way of that warm dark glance reaching him, seeing him. Far better to have a friend at his side than to be alone.

Even now, even after Matty was sure that Taylor had slipped over the years into an acceptance of the notion, had gone from a maybe to a yeah, OK, sure – even now Matty was too cowardly to act on it. A failure of the imagination, he suspected. Because he’d never really gotten far beyond the idea of confusion and clumsiness. What would they do? He had no idea what they’d do together. Other than a few anonymous one–sided encounters, the only other gay he’d ever really known – a guy at college, because gays were thin on the ground in Brooklyn – had been more of a woman trapped in a man’s body. Nothing wrong with that. Different strokes, and all that. But Matty and Taylor, they were both men. Very much men. And Matty loved Taylor’s exaggeratedly masculine body, he really loved it, and yet there was no way he was going to surrender to it, that just wouldn’t be Matty. There was no getting around it. They were both men. Neither was going to surrender to the other. And all Matty had ever known about sexual relationships involved, if not a man and a woman, then at least an active and a passive partner. So how could it be between him and Taylor? What would they do? A failure of imagination, indeed.

Taylor was safely watching the tv, so Matty allowed himself to search for inspiration. Let his eyes wander up Taylor’s sturdy, jeans–clad legs. The promising swell of his thighs. His hips continuing on in the same clean line. The neat waist and then the flare of his muscled torso out to broad shoulders. The strong arms – a cliché born of truth, those strong arms – capable of embracing, encompassing, holding a man. All of Taylor strong and built, and yet he wasn’t impervious, he wasn’t armoured, he could be gentle. A tough guy, yes, but a man of Matty’s own generation, not of his father’s. Don’t think about him. Not now, not here.

Taylor wasn’t just some henchman, some mindless thug. He was muscle, sure, but not only muscle. He believed in Matty when no one else did, he could see the weaknesses in Matty and advise him to try for a regular life, and yet still respect him enough to take his lead. He was… Taylor. Taylor Reese. Unique.

Matty let his eyes keep wandering, and – and was startled when his gaze met Taylor’s. So it hadn’t been safe. He should have known it wasn’t safe. Taylor, looking back at him but not aggressively, looking back at him as if open to suggestion. Not in a flirtatious way. Friendly, not sexual. If Matty wanted to pretend that Taylor was simply open to friendship, he could. And yet, and yet they both knew what Matty wanted. And Taylor was there for him. As he had so often before, Taylor dropped his gaze, lowered his eyes. As if deferring to Matty. As if surrendering. As if he’d be willing to surrender himself to his friend. Matty became aware that he was breathing shallowly through an open mouth, his lips were dry, he needed oxygen. He dragged in a deep ragged breath, licked his lips, heart racing. Was it possible? An image swamped him, of himself moving over Taylor’s beautiful, naked, masculine yet passive body. Taylor lying there, face buried in the mattress. As if shy, but letting him… letting him… God, letting him! Was that what Matty really wanted? Surely there was some other way for them to be together. And yet, why refuse this, if it was really on offer? Wasn’t it close enough? As close as he’d ever get? How could he possibly refuse?

Taylor was on his bed, waiting. Lying back, eyes lowered. Not making the first move, resolutely not making the first move as if it were a matter of honour that Matty should call the shots. Dear God it was tempting. All Matty would have to do was swing his feet to the floor, stand – not even stand, just lose his balance and fall across that beautiful man waiting for him. He imagined those strong arms reaching to catch him, encompass him. Taylor’s cock already heavy as the man lifted his hips to push down his jeans, undressing himself for Matty. That dark glance warm and open even as Matty’s knee parted those provocative thighs. Facing each other this time. Taylor surrendering without any shame whatsoever. Those hands, capable of murder, gently running down Matty’s back, then grasping his buttocks as he thrust…

Matty groaned. Matty let out a groan, and how would he ever have explained that away? He would have just had to go with it then, having finally after all these years committed himself.

Except that the groan was obliterated by a knock at the door, and suddenly Marbles was there in the room with them, oblivious to what had almost happened. Marbles perching himself on the foot of Matty’s bed, talking at his usual million miles per hour. It seemed that Scarpa, with whom Marbles was sharing a room, was getting lucky. With not just one girl but two. ‘I mean, they came to him, would you believe it? Both of them! I mean, each of them!’ Yeah, thought Matty, that was not unusual for Marbles’ cousin, possessed of the kind of sexual confidence that Matty himself sorely lacked. ‘When the second one showed up, I thought that was my chance, y’know – but no they both wanted him. They agreed to share. So I left them to it. D’you guys mind if I hang out here?’

‘No,’ said Matty, because he had to. He hauled himself up a bit higher on the pillows massed against the headboard. He stared fixedly at the tv, not really seeing it, not looking at Taylor. Who perhaps didn’t realise how close Matty had gotten to giving in. So, perhaps it could still remain an unspoken secret. Nothing had really changed. They could simply go on as they had done for years. Friends. Men. Each alone. He stared hard at the tv, trying to regain his equilibrium, hoping that Marbles wouldn’t notice Matty trying to resettle his breathing.

Taylor stood in one strong sinuous move, and fetched three beers from the fridge, brought the first to Matty who took it with a thanks, carefully not looking anywhere but the tv even when Taylor walked in front of it, the man’s waist and hips and thighs moving in perfect supple harmony. Taylor took the second beer to Marbles, then returned to his own bed with the third – only to gather up his pillows, and bring them round to the other side of Matty’s bed, pile them against the headboard, settle himself down next to Matty, though still a careful arm’s length away.

Matty, staring at the tv as if it offered salvation, tried not to react. Of course that was just about the hierarchy of things. If the boss has to share a bed, then it’s with his second in command, his lieutenant, his best friend, rather than with just any old goombah. Marbles could stay, but he must remember his place. And that’s exactly how Marbles took it, when he finally noticed three mouthfuls of beer later. ‘Uh, yeah,’ he muttered, ‘sorry.’ Getting up with the obvious intent of heading for the single.

‘Nah,’ Taylor said. ‘Come here.’ And he patted the bed between him and Matty.

Marbles looked from one to the other of them, gaping a little. But he didn’t need asking twice. With a whoop like he was still twelve years old, Marbles flung himself in between them, beer in hand. He spilled a slurp, drank some more, and then before he could haul himself up and sit against the headboard, Taylor was sliding down to lie beside him, one competent hand spread resting on Marbles’ stomach, keeping him where he was. ‘Oh man,’ Marbles breathed as Taylor fitted himself snugly down one side. And then they both looked up at Matty, waiting for him to take the lead, Marbles dazed yet eager and Taylor with his familiar dark openness, waiting.

Well, thought Matty, how could he not? Where would he go, if he walked out and left them to it? How would he face either of them later, if he threw them out? It wasn’t quite what he wanted, but the tension was still there, in an unfocussed kind of way. It wasn’t like he hadn’t considered Marbles as an option before now, Marbles with his cool–yet–cute looks, and his compact–almost–boyish body, who was to be brutally honest far easier to envisage playing passive to Matty’s active role. And there was Taylor lying on the other side, waiting for him, and while one part of Matty finally knew himself well enough to bitterly resent that he would have to share Taylor for this their very first time together, another part of him wondered if Taylor was arranging this because he figured there was no other way to break their years–long impasse. Matty slid down to lie beside his two friends.

Even as he buried his face in the juncture of Marbles’ throat and shoulder, even as he mouthed the creamy skin of another man, even as Marbles happily warbled, ‘Oh man, I ain’t missing out on nothing tonight!’ Even then Matty felt Taylor’s hand slide around his own waist, drag him closer, and he groaned, and the fever came upon him, and he lost himself in the pleasures of it.

 

One moment etched itself on his memory forevermore. Matty thrusting slowly but relentlessly into Marbles, who stretched taut back against him, clutching him in various ways, while Taylor pleasured himself with one hand and spared the other for Marbles – not letting Marbles come, never quite letting him get there despite his increasingly desperate pleas. Taylor lifting his head from where he’d been biting at Marbles’ chest, and meeting Matty’s naked gaze, and Taylor suddenly losing it entirely, shooting his load against Marbles, surprised, shuddering, barely managing to stifle a cry, the only time Matty had ever seen him out of control – and for once he didn’t lower his eyes but they kept looking at each other, into each other, and as Marbles finally achieved release between them, they shifted even closer and finally – finally – kissed each other.

 

A month later, Taylor lay face down on yet another bed in yet another hotel, while Matty worked over him – cleaning and dressing his wounds. ‘Almost healed already,’ Matty murmured, shaking his head. ‘How do you do that?’

‘Living right.’ Taylor chuckled into the mattress. ‘It’d take more than that to stop me.’

‘Three bullets…’ Matty said wondering. He finished his task, and then allowed himself his usual indulgence – he pressed a light kiss to the small of Taylor’s back, just where it started curving up again to his buttocks, just where it disappeared into his jeans, expressing both gratitude and a promise for the day when they might at last love each other some more. When that might be, Matty had no idea. Perhaps that day would never quite come; perhaps it would all go back to being an unspoken secret. After all, everything else had changed around them, nothing now was as it had been on that one night they’d shared with each other, with Marbles.

By the time they’d left Hicksville, Montana, both Chris Scarpa and poor Johnny Marbles were dead, the one emptied of his smooth confidence, the other’s sweet eagerness drained from that too–cool–now face. Dead also was Matty’s traitorous uncle – the first and please God the last time that Matty ever fired a gun at another man. Matty himself was only alive because Taylor had bodily shielded him, taking three bullets in his ox–like shoulder. They’d finished the job by taking the money back to Matty’s father. His father who at last decided that Matty was man enough to work for him. But that didn’t mean much any more now that Matty was clearer about where his definitions of masculinity departed from his father’s. Loyalty, for instance. The older generation had only a skewed version of loyalty, based on fear rather than friendship. Matty had turned his back and walked away, and the ever–faithful Taylor had walked away beside him. Goombahs no more, they had yet to figure out what they’d do with their lives. But they knew enough to start by getting out of Brooklyn, by staying together, by giving themselves enough time to slowly figure it out. So here they were, in yet another anonymous south–western town, still drifting. Matty sighed.

‘Hey,’ Taylor softly said. ‘Come here.’ And he patted the bed beside him, before shifting with less effort than previously onto his back, using his right arm to snare a pillow and prop it under his head.

Matty lay on his side beside the man, staying an arm’s length away, resting his head on his own arm. He didn’t say anything. They had rarely talked during this past month. They had both been quiet most of the time, musing, remembering, not thinking too far ahead. Perhaps it was about time they started making plans, though. It wasn’t as if the money was going to last forever, they’d need to find work of some kind. Legitimate work. They’d need to find some place to live. To live together, Matty hoped, even if they didn’t share a bed.

‘Sometimes seems like we’ve spent half our lives waiting for one thing or another,’ Taylor said, so quietly and so in tune with Matty’s mood that it felt like he was voicing a shared thought. ‘But now we’re making up our own lives the way we want them.’

‘Yeah,’ Matty agreed.

There was peace between them. Into it, Taylor said, ‘So, how is this gonna be? You and me?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Don’t you?’ Taylor chuckled a little. He’d only taken to chuckling since they’d left Brooklyn behind them; it was one of the ways Matty knew he’d done the right thing to walk away. ‘I thought this came kinda naturally to you.’

Matty sighed. This was nothing he didn’t already know: ‘But not to you.’

‘I’ve grown accustomed to the idea. I don’t figure anyone is all one way or all the other.’

‘I am. Scarpa was. Scarpa was all one way, and I’m all the other.’

‘OK, sure, and you’re my best friend, always have been. I love you, man.’

Matty met that dark warm open gaze, spinning away inside. And yet it had been said in the easy kind of way that any man might use with his closest friend. ‘I love you, too,’ he confessed, looking away, knowing it meant more than Taylor meant. Knowing that Taylor knew that, too.

‘So, come here.’

And Matty snuggled into Taylor’s side, laying his head on the man’s good right shoulder, letting himself be held. It was nice. But it wasn’t quite what he wanted. Where had the tension gone? The tension that used to make his skin prickle and his nerves sing. Matty hardly felt anything at all any more.

After a while, Taylor said, ‘You really don’t know, do you? How this is gonna be.’

‘Not a clue.’ He took a moment to let another barrier fall free. Not so long ago he would have felt reduced by that. Now he just felt… open. Wide open. Scared. ‘I haven’t been with many guys. And none like you.’

‘So, did you ever figure maybe I’m not really what you want?’

‘Nah, you are. Of course you are. Since… ever since I realised what I was. You’re what I’ve wanted.’

‘That’s good,’ Taylor said with evident satisfaction, right arm tightening around Matty, squeezing him. ‘And you know you can trust me, right?’

‘Absolutely. I really do.’ Even in the thick of that last job for Matty’s father, even when Taylor had said something like You know you can only trust people as far as it’s in their own interests, Matty had known that he could trust Taylor Reese, no matter what. Even before he had three bullet wounds to prove it. Matty sighed. ‘I just don’t know how it can be between you and me.’

‘Well, I dunno either. Why don’t you start small? Start by kissing me. It’s been too long a time since you kissed me.’

Matty lifted his head, looked at his friend. Taylor, always cool and calm and knowing exactly what was going down. Taylor, to whom he had entrusted his life. Taylor, who was prepared to offer Matty everything he’d ever wanted, more than he’d dared to hope for. To Matty, this sure seemed like love. And yet… ‘I’m not sure –’ he stuttered. ‘I think I – It’s my fault, I know. I just can’t imagine how –’

‘Matty,’ Taylor breathed, ‘lover, you think too much.’ And he drew Matty down for a soul–deep kiss.

 

‘So, maybe,’ Taylor murmured when they were done kissing, though they’d barely parted so as he spoke his lips brushed Matty’s. ‘Maybe it would go something like this…’

‘Yes…’ Matty whispered, hardly daring to even breathe.

‘Perhaps we’d be lying together, something like we are now…’ Those dark eyes searching Matty’s face, before settling on his mouth. ‘And you’d slide your arm around my waist, and start kissing me again –’

Matty did so, urgently pressing in as if unwilling to lose another moment in delay.

Taylor’s right arm strengthened around Matty’s shoulders, and the man returned the kiss with interest. And yet eventually he pulled away, just slightly, and chuckled under his breath before complaining, ‘But I hadn’t even gotten to the good part yet.’

‘Tell me the good part,’ Matty said – though he didn’t say it, didn’t voice it, being hushed and awestruck as he was. Taylor’s words had already woven a spell on him, had already conjured up the old familiar tension. Which was about to be resolved and then renewed and resolved again.

‘Slowly, your right hand edges down to my jeans. Slowly, like you think I won’t notice, like you think I’m not lying here begging for it.’

‘You are?’

‘Oh yeah, lover.’ As heartfelt as any oath he’d ever sworn. ‘I am. And you pop open the button, real smooth…’

Matty followed along as best he could, though nothing was smooth right now except for Taylor’s magic words.

‘And you slide down the zipper…’

No sound in the room but for the zipper ripping apart tooth by tooth, and both of them breathing heavy.

‘You stop for a moment,’ Taylor said, dark eyes warm and vulnerable, ‘and kiss me again.’

As if they both needed reassurance. Matty supposed that was true. He leant in, met that soft mouth with his own, kissed it and was met with strength. Certainty. His hand, meanwhile, had not waited for further instructions, but had crept in past denim and cotton to find its hot hard goal.

Taylor broke away at his first teasing touch, dragged in a breath. Raggedly he said, ‘And then…’

But there was no more need for words. There were no more words. Matty was born anew.

 

‘I’ve been thinking,’ Taylor announced in the aftermath.

‘You’ve been thinking?’ Matty echoed. What on earth was coming next? And when had Taylor had the time or capacity to think? Matty considered feeling aggrieved, but the thorough satisfaction was too recent for anything but complacency.

‘Yeah. I mean, not just then.’ With a chuckle, as if he could read Matty’s mind. ‘But I’ve been thinking it’s time to quit wandering. Settle down. Start a new life. Become citizens.’

‘Yeah.’ Matty sighed. ‘And how will that be?’

‘We’ll find a town with a school that needs a phys ed teacher, a football coach, something like that. You’d be perfect.’

‘Oh.’ He immediately thought of all the objections a school could raise – not just his father now, but also his relationship with Taylor. But he couldn’t deny that his heart stirred. A teacher. That would be… extraordinary. ‘What about you?’

‘I’ll work in a bar, or something. I don’t care where, just so long as…’

‘What?’ Matty prompted. Though he already knew the answer. It was in those dark eyes as they looked at him, directly, warmly, honestly. ‘Taylor…’

‘I owe you my life, Matty,’ Taylor said low. ‘I could never become a citizen without you.’

‘Just as well you’ll never have to try, then,’ Matty responded. And they kissed again, before at last getting up, and heading off to follow Taylor’s latest plan.

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