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Magnificent Outcomes

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They were alive. All of them, and it was a fucking miracle. When they had seen the Gat they were almost sure that it was all over, at least for some of them. There was no way they were all going to survive that. They couldn’t. They didn’t have enough places to hide, they didn’t have enough ammunition. They didn’t have enough anything. Yet somehow, someway, they had all survived. Granted many of them were worse for wear.


Billy had taken three to the chest, and while they hadn’t killed them they had torn through him and left him incapacitated and just this side of comatose, only waking for brief moments and never being totally lucid.


Faraday was sore and cut up and bruised, his leg all but useless for the moment; the blast from the dynamite had caused some minor damage to his ears but he was awake and talking.
Goodnight was sore, having taken two bullets of his own and getting thrown off the bell tower, but was otherwise alright. He was up and walking, helping out the people of Rose Creek where and when he could without agitating his wounds. The doctors had long since kicked him away from Billy’s bed.


Jack was also fine, if a bit sore and still bedridden. He was sour about the fact that he had been taken down by an Indian, of all people, but had finally stopped bitching about it.
Vasquez had come out relatively unscathed, the cut on his arm nothing but a graze from a bullet. He spent plenty of time with Faraday, the two prodding and hissing at each other, though it was obvious to everyone that they had been scared as hell that the other wasn’t going to make it out of that battle.


Chisolm and Emma were both perfectly fine. They had found their peace and were learning to live with it. Emma wasn’t doing as well as Sam, but she was learning to live in a world without her husband.


Red Harvest seemed to be the most affected of them all. Not physically, physically he was fine. It was his emotional state that had those that had seen him concerned. He didn’t sleep much, or at all some nights, and he hardly took food. He hovered over Billy and Faraday, waiting for one to wake and the other to be able to stand on his own. He didn’t seem to worry about Jack as much, but they supposed it was because of the other man’s history with Harvest’s people. When he wasn’t around the others, any of them, he was tense and agitated; often looking like he was on the verge of tears or screaming. It worried everyone, Emma included. No one knew what was causing it and no one knew how to ask about it.


Sam figured it was a fit of guilt. Harvest’s brothers had been injured, near death, yet he’d gotten away with few injuries of his own. It wouldn’t be the first time that he’d seen someone react in a similar fashion. Regardless of what he thinks is causing it, he’s worried. When Harvest isn’t pacing by the beds of his companions, he’s working his fingers raw fixing buildings and building coffins and digging holes. As far as the darker man knew, there wasn’t a single one of the Natives fingers that wasn’t bandaged. At first, there hadn’t been cause for concern. Everyone was dealing with the aftermath of the battle in a different way, but nearly a two weeks had passed and nothing had changed. He wasn’t the only one that had taken notice.


“He’s going to kill himself if he keeps working like that.” The voice that sounds beside Chisolm is concerned and comes from Goodnight who had no doubt been kicked away from Billy’s bed once more.


They’re both looking across the way at the church, which is being rebuilt in full. Red Harvest is working harder and faster than everyone else, sweat clinging and rolling down his exposed skin that both men would have found arousingly distracting had it not been for the fact that their native friend looked well past exhausted, but still looked as though he had no intention of stopping any time soon. The two were saved from having to do anything when the preacher announced that they’d done enough for the day. They watched as Harvest went off like a bullet, Bee-Lining it for the medical building where the rest of their ragtag group was.


Sam shook his head, concern etching deep into his features.


“He’ll see Faraday first, then Horne, then Billy. Sometimes he falls asleep at Faraday’s side and Vasquez has to wake him before his neck starts to hurt. He always looks guilty.” Goodnight speaks with something akin to sadness in his voice, and Sam wonders how it is that he never noticed the pattern. But then, it was Goodnight and Harvest that saw the others regularly. It wasn’t that he hadn’t wanted to, but they still weren’t sure when Billy was going to wake again and some were saying that he might not. He was getting far too close to them, and that was dangerous. He’d come to terms with the fact that he was attracted to all of them to varying degrees; after all, in his line of work one couldn’t really be picky, you found pleasure where you could. Still, he was getting close to them; and that wasn’t something he was sure that he could risk doing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The home they are using as a medical building is warm and smells like rubbing alcohol. It’s dry, and has the undertone of death that seems to cling to the walls as well as the people in it. Red Harvest sat like a statue next to Faraday’s bed, studying the man’s sleeping face and wishing that he was in his place. He had suffered no injury while his friends, because that's what they were wasn’t it, had nearly died. He couldn’t explain the overwhelming guilt, but he had known the overwhelming sensation of fear when he had considered losing four members of his new family.


“I can hear you thinking.” The voice makes him jump, startling him out of his thoughts, hand automatically going to the weapon secured at his hip. For a moment, he couldn’t identify where it was that the voice was coming from, until he realized that it was very close. Looking down, Harvest saw Faraday looking back at him, brow raised. Faraday examined him quietly, brows knitting together when he noticed the bruised circles beneath his eyes and the exhaustion that seem to set into his shoulders.


“When was the last time you slept?” The cowboy knows that Harvest spends most of his time here, has woken up to the other slumped over in sleep just before Vasquez came to see him. Harvest didn’t answer at first, choosing to chew at his lower lip for a few long moments instead. The motion was distracting, but Faraday refused to be ignored.


“Hey, Harvest, sleep. When was the last time you did that?” He knew that the other man didn’t speak much English, but that he understood plenty.


“I…..some time.” The answer was quiet, and Harvest did not look at Faraday to answer. The younger man’s body was slack in the chair that he sat in, hands loosely balanced against his knees and his head bent; avoiding eye contact with Faraday. The bedridden man rolls his eyes and reaches out, fingers closing around the Natives wrist and pulling hard. The other man startled and gasped, but momentum took him forward and he wound up half in the bed (on top of Faraday), and half off of it. Faraday reaches down, grasping the other man’s arm and heaving, winching at the pain it causes him, but making a triumphant noise when Harvest is wedged in the space between himself and the edge of the bed.


“Wha…?” Red Harvest begins to protest, even as his body recognizes his exhaustion and he starts feeling heavy. Faraday shushes him, pulling his head over to rest on his chest and over his heart. He tells the slighter man to sleep, throwing as much command into his voice as he can. The gambler is more than just a little surprised when Harvest falls asleep immediately, like a switch had been flipped and the command was all that he’d needed.


When Vasquez comes to visit him later, Faraday only shrugs.


“Switch flipped?” Vasquez is whispering as to not wake the man sleeping on Faraday’s chest. Harvest has rearranged himself slightly, ear pressed over the gambler's heart and a hand resting diagonal it, legs firmly twined around the other males. The Mexican had wanted to laugh upon finding the two in such a position, but he’d always been the one to wake Harvest when he’d fallen asleep at someone's bed side. Watched as the other’s face flushed with shame and embarrassment for no apparent reason.


“Yea. It was really weird. At first, it didn’t seem like he wanted to sleep and then I told him to and he just…...slept?” Faraday finishes the explanation lamely, voice trailing with a slight wince as he registers that his voice isn’t as confident as it should be. Harvest shifts against him, leg slotting solidly between the conscious man’s thighs and shifting much closer than he was before.


Faraday turns a very unique shade of red.
Vasquez chokes on his own laughter.
Red doesn’t do so much as stir.


Neither man says anything for a long while, content with the quiet around them and the soft sounds of Red Harvest’s breathing. Neither of them say anything either when Sam comes into the med room, stopping in the doorway with a very confused expression carved into his features.


“Don’t ask because I don’t know.” Faraday sounds a bit defensive, but Sam just shakes his head. While he agrees that their position is something humorous to be found in, and even scandalous depending on who you ask, it was good to see Red Harvest sleeping. Sam’s eyes swept across the room, noting Billy’s still sleeping form and Jack’s upright position. The bear of a man seemed to be purposefully staring at the wall as opposed to looking over and seeing what the commotion was.


“How’s he doin?” Sam tilted his chin towards Billy. The doctors still couldn’t say if he would wake anytime soon. He’d suffered a nasty head injury, and though he’d had bouts of consciousness before; they had stopped coming almost a week ago.


“No one can really tell us anythin’. He ain’t dead, but they aren’t sure if he’s gonna wake up again. They ain’t even sure what stopped his waking up in the first place.” Goody’s voice sounds from the doorway, just behind Sam. He sounds tired and when the other’s turn to face him, they note the exhaustion that hangs around him like an old robe and a familiar friend. Sam shifts aside, allowing the other man to move past him and across the room, taking up his familiar spot next to Billy; lacing their fingers together.


Right now, it seems that they all need a little hope.

Chapter Text

When Harvest wakes, the sun has long since set and most of the left side of Faraday’s body had long since gone numb. The young Indian blinked the world back into focus, carefully adjusting himself into an upright position. His body is warm from where he’d been pressed against the male beside him, and sluggish from the long hours of deep sleep.

Looking around, he sees that Goodnight had probably fallen asleep by Billy’s bedside again, but is momentarily absent. Billy himself remains at rest, face growing paler and more gaunt every passing day. Guilt strikes him, and he moves on. Jack is sleeping as well, broad body set up against his pillows and a gun across his lap. He can tell by the lack of even breathing to his right that Vasquez, who has a nasally whistle when he sleeps, probably left the room. Beside him, Faraday’s eyes are closed and he looks peaceful; which explains why Red nearly jumps out of his skin when the other man speaks.

“Evening sunshine.” There’s no malice in the words, only a playful tone that should put Red Harvest at ease but only succeeds in making him panic. Like he’s being shot at, Red disentangles himself from Faraday’s side and is moving as far away from the bed as the room will let him before Faraday’s brain can actually catch up with what's happening. The younger man’s face is flushed deeply, fingers twitching at his eyes and eyes flitting across the room; refusing to make contact with the bedbound gambler.

The noise wakes Jack, most sounds do, has him sitting up with his rifle ready before he notes what’s actually going on around him.

He notes the startled and concerned look on Faraday’s face, following his eyes until he finds Red; flushed from collarbone to ears in a way that speaks of shame. Jack’s eyes skitter to where he knows Billy and Goody will be, and is both annoyed and relieved that Billy is still sleeping and Goody is absent. Annoyed because he doesn’t know what happened, and doesn’t know if Red or Faraday will tell him the truth if he asks. Relieved because he’s going to ask anyway; and they would probably appreciate as little humiliation as possible.

Red bolts before he can even open his mouth.

“Re….!” Faraday start’s to shout the Native’s name, but stops short when the door closes hard behind the other man. The Gambler sighs, pressing the heels of his palms against his brow bone like he’s trying to fight off a particularly nasty headache.

“The hell was that ‘bout?” Jack knows that he sounds accusatory, and if he's honest he doesn't particularly care. All he knows right now is what it looks like, and it doesn’t look good. Red doesn’t seem like the type to actively look for physical companionship (Jack seriously doubt’s that the boy's ever been kissed); but he couldn't say as much for Faraday.

“For once, I didn’t do anything.” The Gambler snaps just as Vasquez is entering the medical building, eyes trailing behind him.

“Hell’s goin’ on?” Vasquez mostly ask’s the question to himself, but looks inside the room and to Faraday for an answer. He only gets a shrug in response. The Gambler looks up at the sounds of footsteps, and the Mexican in the doorway steps aside to let Goodnight in. Goodnight’s, much like the outlaw before him, eyes trailed after what has to be Red’s retreating back before looking into the room with a raised brow.

“I didn’t do anything.” Faraday lifts his hands in a placating manner, wincing slightly as the movement caused him pain. Goodnight nodded before moving quickly to Billy’s bedside, seating himself and loosely tangling their fingers together. An awkward silence falls over the room, even as Vasquez moves to sit by his gambling friend.

Eventually, Jack gets tired of the discomfort that the silence is causing.

“We gon’ talk ‘bout what jus’ happened?” His voice is on just this side of anger, exhaustion and bed rest making him antsy and agitated.

“If we’re gonna talk about what happened just now, we may as well talk about what’s BEEN happening with our young Indian friend for the last few weeks.” Goodnight doesn’t look up from where his thumb is rubbing over Billy’s knuckles, and despite that his voice is clear.

No one says anything. No one wants to admit that they hadn’t noticed that Red Harvest has been slowly destroying himself. The silence remains until Sam, whose footsteps alerted the group to his impending arrival before anything else did, appeared in the doorway.

“Ms. Cullen has sent for a doctor from the next county.” Goodnight looks over his shoulder, fingers tightening around Billy’s for a moment before going slack once more. Faraday, Jack, and Vasquez all give their own silent acknowledgements.

Sam turns to leave, never staying any longer than he absolutely has to, before stopping.

“Watch Red Harvest. He's…..not himself.” The pause is disconcerting, because if Sam doesn't know what's going on there's a chance that no one does.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Red returns later that night, exhausted in ways he hasn't been in a long time. His body hurts from work and his legs are jelly from running. Despite all of that, all he can think about is his family.

He feels stupid for running earlier.

For leaving without being asked or told to do so.

As he steps through the door to the infirmary, he sees that Goody has once again fallen asleep beside Billy, fingers laced tightly with the other’s limp digits. It makes his heart twist uncomfortably in his chest, because he can’t think of anything he wouldn’t give to take Billy’s place in that bed. Or any of their places.

Red notes that Vasquez has fallen asleep by Faraday’s bed, head lolling back in the chair he’s in with his legs propped up on the bed; one of Faraday’s flung over them in what had been no doubt an attempt to annoy the outlaw.

Red moves to Jack’s bedside, sitting in the chair that had been placed there weeks ago. He still finds it odd that even though they had been at odds at first, with Jack’s history with Natives and Red’s being a Native, he was still the one that Red Harvest was most concerned about.

He scans the tracker’s face, noting how much calmer and how much more his age the older man looks in sleep; the finer lines smoothing out to bring focus to the structure of his face. Red think’s that he remembers someone referring to Jack as ‘handsome’. He suspect’s it’s a complement, and if it is he can’t help but agree with it. He note’s, rather suddenly, that one of Jack’s hands has moved off of his lap and dangles at the side of the bed. He doesn’t even think as he reaches for it, knowing that it is bound to cause some kind of discomfort later.

Something in Red shifts the moment he takes Jack’s hand in his.

He’s struck, for more than a moment, at the difference in size between them. Carefully, he maneuvers Jack’s hand so it sit’s palm up in one of his own before sliding his other hand into place; aligning their palms press together from the heel up. His fingertip’s stop short by almost a full inch, nails nudging slightly in the creases where Jack’s knuckles are. He finds himself wondering what these hands, scarred and calloused from work, would feel like. Against his skin, in his hair, pressing against the hollows of his throat, pressing further up- and much lower down. Red barely notices when his hand moves, finger’s lightly tracing outlines and crevices as his mind takes him away with thoughts of what these hands could do.

Whatever shifted before suddenly snaps back into place.

Red notices, only just, the heaviness between his legs and he places Jack’s hand back on the bed; releasing it like it’s burned him. Fear presses through him as he stand’s, quick to get away.

He doesn’t notice at all the way Jack’s eyes open and follow him as he flees.

Red doesn’t stop until he has found himself in the room that he calls his own. It’s not far from Sam (or Goody, if he ever bothered to use it), and while that thought is usually enough to calm him all it does is make him feel more afraid. His mind is rushing, heat pressing up and turning him almost maroon. Now that he’s stopped running, he can note the uncomfortable throb between his thighs, and feels like he should be shot.

He feels like he’s betrayed his friend, no matter how unintentional.

His embarrassment will’s away the heaviness between his leg’s and the young Comanche slides to the floor.

It isn’t that these kinds of feelings are unknown to him. He knows them well, it’s the nature in which they present themselves that makes him feel….horridly.

His friends are bedridden, some due to the fact that he wasn’t fast enough to help them. This should not have happened. He should not think selfishly of them. He should not think of them in that respect at all. They deserve better.

Red doesn’t notice how hard he closed the door upon coming into the room until he hears knuckles rap against the wood.

“Red?” It’s Sam’s voice that filters through the grain, and the Comanche in question goes tense for a moment. He doesn’t want to face Sam, but the worry in the other man’s voice had him standing and pulling the door open just enough for his head to peak out.

Sam looks down at Red, noting just how much smaller the other looks now, and frowns a bit. While this isn’t the first time he’s seen the other man in the light, it feels like the first time that he’s realized just how awful Red actually looks. He looks worn out, exhausted; the dark circles beneath his eyes telling of someone that either sleeps very little, or not at all. Red’s body, while it’s definition has been kept up by the work, has started to thin out; rib’s pressing delicately against the skin, just shy of being noticeable. Even his skin looks paler than normal, despite the amount of time that he’s spent in the sun.

“Everything alright? Door closed pretty hard earlier.” The words come out softer than Sam was hoping for, something telling him that it wouldn’t do to be any louder.

“I…..yes?” Red sounds like he isn’t sure, the lower end of the ‘yes’ pitching like he’s asking a question. Sam wants to keep asking. He wants to know what’s going on in the Comanche’s head, but he’s old enough to know better.

This is something that he will have to let Red sort on his own, because he already has ideas as to what’s going on.

“Alright then. Get some rest.” Sam reaches forward, pressing his hand against what part of Red’s shoulder he can before pulling back and moving back down the hall.
Once Sam is out of sight, Red seems to suddenly realize just how exhausted he is, body slumping the moment the door closes.

He barely makes it to the bed before his world goes black.

Chapter Text

When Red makes it to the medical building the next morning, the doctor from the next county is there. He’s a tall, weary man with graying hair and spectacles. At current, he’s looming over Billy. Red doesn’t really know what he’s doing, but he can see where Goodnight is clenching and unclenching his fist’s over and over.
Goodnight is afraid.

Red wants to do something, and starts to drown under the understanding that there isn’t anything he CAN do. Goodnight and Billy had been together a long time, and he imagined that they had loved each other about just as long. Whether one had told the other or not, Red didn’t know. But this kind of hurt was not one that he could fix.

He doesn’t need to look behind him to know that the thin, elegant hand that lands on his shoulder belongs to Emma. She appears in his peripherals, looking beautiful and exhausted and like she’s still waiting for Bogue to come out of some dark corner. Red hesitates a moment before raising his own hand and laying it over hers. It’s something he’s seen others do and knows that it's meant to be comforting.

He can see her turn her head and smile, and disappoints himself when he can’t do the same.

The doctor stands suddenly, concern and confusion creasing his brow and making his hands twitch and fumble together. Midnight makes a move forward, aborting the motion when Sam grips his shoulder.

“I must say I am confused. Your friend here appears to be in perfect health. His heart is strong, he has no fever; yet he hasn’t regained consciousness. I have no answer or explanation. I’m sorry.” The doctors face is grave, head shaking slightly as he removes his glasses to clean them. Red looks around, noting the fallen faces of his friends. Faraday is silent, hands clasped together in his lap and eyes intent on them. Vasquez’ own hand moves to clasp over Faraday’s, fingers tight against the other mans.

Emma’s fingers tightened on his shoulders.

Sam holds tighter to Goodnights arm.

Teddy lets out a watery breath.

Jack prays.

And Goodnight, his reaction hurts the most. The noise he makes chokes out of him, chest shuttering and tears clean tracks down his face. Red knows that there isn’t anything that he can do, even if he wants to.

“If…...if your friend don’t wake up on his own……” The doctor is speaking again, and no one needs him to finish his thought because they all know what he means. It’s like the air punches itself out of Reds lungs, and his hands tighten into blood letting fists at his sides.

The sharp noise of Goodnights knees hitting the ground breaks the painful silence.

“You’d want us to put him down.” Sams’ voice is cold and calm, both of his hands pressing against Goodnights shoulders as he attempts to keep the other from breaking apart.

Red couldn’t do anything but watch and focus on the sensation of Emma' fingers tightening and releasing on his shoulder. She’s crying, he knows, but he won't say anything or attempt to comfort her. Or any of them, really; because what could he do or say? Guilt gnaws at him, followed quickly by shame.

His friends, his family, are suffering and one might die because there was nothing to be done; but he couldn’t so much as shed a tear. He ducks out from Emmas grip, leaving the infirmary with his head low and his nails cutting bloody crescents into his palms.

~~~~~~~~~~

Faraday watches as Red leaves (and sees the heartbroken look on Emma's face), noting the tension in his body and the pained, nauseated look on his face. Part of him is angry, because Goody needs all of them there for him and Billy; but he also understands that everyone grieves differently, and sometimes people just need to be alone to process. Vasquezs’ grip tightens against his fingers, bringing him back to what’s happening.
“We….cn’t jus……” Jacks voice is softer than he’s ever heard it, and he staring intently at his lap; like it would hold the answer to fixing this disaster.

“Now, I ain’t sayin’ that anythin’ needs to be done right now. But if he don’ wake up in a week, I don’ see much point.” Goodnight sends the doctor a look that could kill an army, and the way said doctor tenses and shrinks in a testament to how terrifying Goody is without a gun.

“We’ll keep that under advisement. Thank you.” It’s Emma this time, the young redhead stepping forward to pay the doctor and see him out. Once the room is cleared of anyone that isn’t part of the seven (including Emma), there is only silence. Sam helps Goodnight into the chair by Billy’s bed, the marksman immediately taking firm hold of his friends’ hand. Teddy and Emma leave together, not quite hand in hand but almost. Vasquez and Sam leave shortly after; both of them whispering something encouraging to Goody before they are out the door.

~~~~~~~~~~

Goody is a mess and he knows it. He knows it like he knows it’s finally dark outside, and he knows it like he knows that Faraday and Jack are sleeping. He knows that his heart is pounding violently in his chest, and if Billy were awake he’d complain about how tightly his hand was being held.

Exhaustion is pulling at him hard, bones aching far more than usual and every old and newish wound pulling. His eyes were heavy and his brain and long since stopped processing anything other than the wound of the wind outside and the movement of Billy's breathing. Leaning forward, Goody pressed a soft kiss to the other’s cheek, thumb brushing over the other man's knuckles.

Adjusting himself until he was comfortable enough, Goodnight resting his head against Billys chest, ear directly over the smaller mans heart so that he wouldn’t miss a single beat.

He doesn’t realize that he falls asleep almost immediately.

~~~~~~~~~~

No one sees Red Harvest for almost three days. He doesn’t go to the infirmary, he avoids the rest of the group when he is assisting with repairs. It’s annoying, but more than that; it’s worrying. The remainder of the group can’t help but talk about it, about what might be causing it because they are all at a loss and hoping one might have a better idea than the other.

It goes on for days.

They only, finally, see Red after four days of his absence; all of them noting just how hollow they felt without him. He was pale, a difficult feat for his naturally dark skin; dark circles punched under his eyes and a gimp like his knees hurt (prayer, Sam had told them. He’d been praying to his Gods for Billy’s return to them). Though the length of his hair had changed, the sides remained shaved; beads and red cord tied into the sides where his hair was longest by his forehead, moving back towards his ear.

The colors and foreign coin told them that they were for Billy. Darker beads and a bullet shell told them that they were also for Goody and his heart ache.

Red had come into the infirmary late in the evening, just as Sam, Emma, and Vasquez were readying to leave for the night. He nods to each of them as they pass him, and they each nod back with varying levels of concern on their faces as they take in his appearance.

The moment Red was in the room, he made his was over to Good and Billy; taking a few moments to examine their sleeping faces. Goody had bruising under his eyes not unlike his own, and Billy himself hadn’t changed much; save that he looked just a bit cleaner and his hair has long since been pushed away from his face. He kneels beside them, murmuring a quick prayer before standing again.

Red didn’t intend on staying, but as he turns to leave he makes eye contact with Jack. He’s startled, as he hadn’t really expected anyone but himself to be awake at this hour.

“Comm’er Red.” For the first time since they’d met, the native man heard no room for argument in the others voice. It was a demand, and the younger man was too weak to do anything other than follow it. He sits in the same chair he had the last time he’d seen his older friend, and can do nothing but stare at his hands. He’s startled moments later by the feeling of hands much larger than his own in his hair, toying with the beads and stringing and charms he’d tied into in the early hours of the morning.

“These’r fer Goody and Billy?” Harvest knows that Jack already knows the answer to that question. The older man is far from stupid and the colors and designs are indicative of the two men across the room from them. He nods anyway.

“They’re…..nice?” Jacks words take the form of a question, like he isn’t sure what he wants to say or how he wants to say it. Red Harvest can feel his face go warm, but he still doesn’t look up, and the warmth in his face is coupled by a warm in his stomach the more Jack touches his hair. Both feelings are followed by the same shame and guilt that he’d felt nights ago.

Jack shifts in his bed, pulling himself up so that he can twist as much as his size will allow him to and reach across with his other hand to take Red’s. He uses what little leverage he has to pull the Indian forward, careful not to tug too hard on the intricate beading in his hair. Red moves with hesitation, momentum carrying him forward and almost into Jack’s lap.

Red finds himself seated against the tops of Jack’s thighs, face red with embarrassment and body haggard with exhaustion. His gaze fixates on the edge of the blanket his knees are pressing into, though he can feel Jacks gaze looking him over.

“Ya’ look……..ti’rd.” Jacks voice startles him a bit, the silence having been a constant for almost eight minutes. He doesn’t sound certain. It’s like he’s stating a fact but wanting to add so much more than he’s willing to. Either way, Red doesn’t say anything; though his shoulders drop guiltily. That makes Jack hum in confusion. Red doesn’t have anything to feel guilty about….

Everything seems to come into focus for the hunter in that moment.

They don’t have a name for it, what Red’s going through, but he’d seen survivors of the war in a similar state. Guilt riddled, even when they had nothing to be guilty for.

Jack doesn’t think or stop himself before reaching out, pressing a hand against the smaller males face; his own dirty, pale hands standing out against the others darker skin. Red looks up in an instant, eyes wide and lips parted.

Something about this doesn’t feel like everything else…….it feels different. More intimate. Like it could be one thing or another, and Red feels himself tense slightly because he doesn’t know what those two things could be.

The hard beating rhythm of his heart tells him he knows what he wants one of those options to be.

And the guilt chewing at his mind tells him that he shouldn’t want anything at all.

Thought of any kind launches from his mind when Jack curls a hand around the back of his neck, pulling him forward to hold him close; the warmth of his body lulling Reds aggressive mind for the moment and offering the open arms of sleep.

Open arms that he gladly steps into just as he can swear to feel the brush of lips against his naked temple.