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It's full of blood, snot and teeth (and the glory of no one)

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Marty knows he isn't the greatest detective in the world, hell, he isn't the best (ex)detective in the state but cracking the case before Rust? Damn, that is satisfaction. He wishes he had a tape-recorder on hand to capture the stupefied mumble of 'fuck you, man' from Rust at the whiteboard. Truthfully, his chest swells with pride but mostly for the fact that he impressed Rust Cohle. It took two decades- one of complete separation- but he did it.

It starts to feel like the old days except, no, it's very different; like an aging Polaroid exposed around the edges, sun bleaching all the details into something new.

In the dark of the office they inspect the public records.

"Address, DMV, old license: highway 27, South..." Marty reads of the monitor, tracing the words with his finger and feeling the static buzz. He glances up at Rust's squared shoulders, cigarette smoke curling up the side of his pristine white shirt.

"This is it then," Rust says quietly and Marty's feeling of triumph fades completely. He's not a coward mind you, his fear comes from remembering Rust's confession, words that have left him sleepless since, he's ready to tie it all off once this is over. And it's almost over. He never thought he'd see the end of his story coming, feel the pages turning as they enter the last chapter.

He stares at the screen unseeing until Rust appears at his side again, peering at the address on the monitor with one hand on the desk and the other behind Marty's head on the chair. The smell of smoke clings to Rust like a second skin, always has, and Marty finds it strangely reassuring. He inhales deeply, catching a lungful of second hand smoke, and feels his pulse calm just a little. When he looks up Rust is looking back at him and he feels himself colour.

A strangely open look comes over Rust's face, his eyes trail over Marty's face like he knows what Marty is thinking and he's taking him in, one last time. Just as quickly as it's there, it's gone again and Marty can see him withdrawing, putting up those walls that he's fortified for years in solitude. The words echo through his mind, 'circle of violence, tie it off, circle of violence, tie it off'. Suddenly Marty can't bare it and as Rust starts to straighten up he grabs his collar in a fist.

For a moment, Marty is certain he is going to hit him or shake him angrily and tell him just because he's ready to tie it off doesn't mean Marty is. But the words are still spiraling through his head and he finds himself lunging halfway out of his chair and knocking their foreheads together. He kisses Rust. It's messy, at the wrong angle, and their teeth collide. Marty gets a mouthful of facial hair before adjusting and slotting their mouths together, suddenly making it perfect.

This is something he knows how to do well. He's good with his mouth- all the women he's been with say so- and apparently it hasn't disappeared with age because Rust actually moans under his breath. His hands suddenly appear in the front of Marty's shirt, hauling him to his feet, cigarette abandoned on the floor. They sway and kiss in the half-light, Marty wraps his arms around Rust's waist to keep him as close as possible and Rust's nails dig into his biceps.

What started as a desperate kiss morphs into the slow drag of hungry mouths, tongues exploring every inch of each other like they're teenagers practicing kissing. Marty runs his hand up the hot curve of Rust's spine and back down, pressing against the small of his back to feel the bulge in his pants rub against his. They both moan, Marty loud and Rust urgent but quiet.

It's easy to manhandle Rust back against the glass wall, plastic blinds crinkling under the weight of their bodies. Marty follows the line of Rust's belt to the front of his trousers, cupping and rubbing the hard line of him. Rust gasps into his mouth and presses into his hand, his own latching onto the back of Marty's neck. He only teases for a minute, just to feel Rust keen against him in a way he never expected, before fumbling with the buckle and zip and wriggling his hand inside. His cock is hard and wet and utterly foreign to Marty but exactly what he imagined, what he wants.

"Marty," Rust whispers into his mouth, they're hardly kissing just sharing breath as Marty starts stroking him reverently. Marty kisses his throat wishing he could say more, show more. After all these years, all those mistakes, he still isn't good with words so he kisses and touches until Rust is shuddering. He makes a choked off noise against Marty's temple and there's suddenly wetness slicking up his hand. Rust sags against the wall as Marty gingerly pulls his hand free, staring at the state of it curiously. He considers giving it a taste but decides against it and wipes it on Rust's nice shirt.

"Asshole," Rust grumbles with no bite to it. Marty starts to smile but Rust shoves at his shoulder until his back is to the wall. Rust grabs his belt and unbuckles it with much more finesse, dragging the pants a few inches down his thighs. He smoothly goes to knees and without hesitating pulls Marty's cock out and licks.

"Holy-" Marty wheezes like he's been punches in the gut, almost doubling over and catching himself of Rust's shoulders. There's no reprise, Rust takes him into his mouth and sucks hungrily. Marty's only ever seem his cheekbones hollow like that when he lights up a cigarette and he knows he'll never look at him doing that again without getting a semi.

"Rust, baby, I-" Rust's hands grip his hips harder and he moans around Marty. He touches the back of Rust's sweaty neck where the loose hairs are plastered to the wet skin. Something about that sets him off and suddenly he's coming hard enough to make his knees buckle. Rust swallows it all, licking up every drop until Marty is whining. When he pulls off he leans back and drops to the side, pressing his back against the ruined blinds. Marty hears him take out a cigarette and light it up before realising he's stood with his dick out. He tucks himself away and then collapses down next to Rust, knees drawn up beside his splayed legs.

He takes Rust's cigarette from between his fingers and takes a very long drag, immediately coughing. Rust raises his eyebrows and he takes it back, but all Marty can do is shrug and chuckle.

"That was... a little unexpected," Marty finally says sheepishly.

"We can forget it," Rust replies softly and Marty's blood instantly turns cold. He stares at him staring at the burning tip of his smoke in his hand balanced on his knee.

"'cuse me?"

"Call it hormones, chemicals on the brain, need to blow off some steam-"

"Hold up now, Rust," Marty interrupts, anger bubbling up. Anger and hurt. "Where's that coming from?"

"Experience."

"Exp-" Marty stops, realising what he means. His history biting him in the ass. "That's not what this is, it ain't like that... ain't like them."

"Did you say that to them too?"

"Jesus Christ-," Marty scrambles to his feet, glaring down at Rust who remains infuriatingly indifferent. Except he isn't. Marty opens his mouth to ream Rust out but then he sees the tautness in Rust's shoulders, wet eyes fixed on his barely smoked cigarette still. This is his premature self-defense, ensuring Marty "Hot-Head" Hart will lash out and call it quits so he doesn't get hurt later on.

"Rust." The man looks up at him, sleepy eyes glistening a little. His cheeks are flushed and more strands are hair have escape around his ears. "It ain't like that," he repears softly. Rust is silent, holding his gaze intently and Marty hopes he's as much of an open book as everyone tells him he is. Rust's eyes droop.

"Okay, Marty."

"Okay?" Marty asks, offering his hand which Rust takes. He stands with their joined hands pressed between them.

"Okay," Rust murmurs. Marty smiles just a little, still aching with fear. Their hands fall apart and Rust places his on his hip, clearing his throat. "You got extra ink for that photocopier?"

"Urm, sure," Marty answers slowly, brow furrowing. "In the storage closet. Why?"

"We got a lotta evidence here," Rust gestures to the office. "Got some printing to do, paperwork before the storm. If something happens to us we need to make sure this wasn't all for nothin'." Rust steps around him and Marty can tell his head is back in the game, he's probably one of those guys who wants to go for a run after sex. Marty just wants to take a nap. "We'll make case files, include copies of the tape, send it out to newspapers, federal... Someone will listen."

Marty nods and rubs the back of neck where the sweat is cooling. As Rust picks up his abandoned cigarette, Marty finds the box of inks beneath Fran's desk at the reception. The xerox machine is some cheap hunk of junk Marty bought off the internet cheaply. Nevertheless the old thing ran pretty good and hadn't crapped out yet. He lifts the lid and replaces the ink cartridges that were already running low. When he shuts the lid, Rust appears with the first stack of evidence to make multiples of. He quietly tells Marty how many and then stands next to him as he tucks the first sheet into the scanner.

Their arms brush as he sets it up and it makes his skin tingle a little like he's some lovesick teenager. The machine clunks and grinds into life and Marty looks at Rust who's looking back with his cigarette between his lips. The thing about Rust's eyes is they're lovely. Unreadable and sleepy looking, Marty knows exactly how women (and men?) fall for him, maybe even now with the questionable style choices. And the thing about those eyes, as unreadable as they are, is that it's noticeable when they are a little wider or narrow. One tiny, tiny tell Marty has kept to himself for years.

Rust looked at him with wide eyes when he found another case like Dora Lang. Looked at him with wide eyes when he was more Crash than himself and their faces were inches apart. Looked at him with wide eyes when he asked if Marty was seeing anybody these days. Marty always thought he orbited Rust, the world seemed to revolve around him, but many Rust fell into his. Right now, his eyes are wide and soft, and it makes Marty's soft too. Marty smiles minutely, and both of them look away.

They get to work quietly, Marty at the copier and Rust at the desk putting all the copies into cardboard boxes. It takes hours, Marty's back aches by the end of it and there are five boxes full of paper on the desks.

Marty tucks his hands into his pockets and stands beside Rust finishing his sixth cigarette. "The tape-"

"Made copies," Rust murmurs, exhaling. He picks up one of the boxes. "Got 'em in the safe at the bar. C'mon."

"You wanna take all this shit over there?" Marty calls after him as he heads to the door.

"Yeah, well, there's beer there too."

He nods and picks up the next box. "Nuff said," he mutters to himself.

-

The bar somehow looks worse after closing, the darkness bringing out all the ugly angles. Rust leaves the lights behind the bar on, illuminating their figures either side of the counter. On the bar stacks of paper sit between them, evidence neatly gathered, ready for packaging. Marty swigs his third beer, shuffling the sixth file into ordered. It's probably the beer (it tends to make him maudlin) but it feels surreal, organising in the events of their deaths. He'd called his lawyer yesterday to make sure his will was up to date.

To his left Rust methodically posts the fifth file into a padded envelope. Marty watches his bit the lid of a sharpie and write the address of a New Orlean's newspaper. Even back in the day Rust would move like he had all the time in the world, like it spins by the axis of his boots. He recaps the pen and flips the envelope to seal it and stack it next to him with the others. Marty is hypnotized by his fingers how they seem to move to a rhythm only Rust hears, something he's rehearsed and knows by memory.

After a moment Marty realises Rust is staring right back at him, watching him with that unreadable look on his face. Marty feels the blush creep up his skin, knowing in comparison he's an open book. It frustrated him endlessly during their partnership how much of an enigma Rust was, is. The Marty of old lashed out at every turn when met with Rust's aloofness or the ease at which he could see through him. Now he gazes back at him and wishes he could worm his way beneath those defenses and really see him too.

"You want another?" Rust asks, voice as smokey as the haze that hangs around him. Marty clears his throat and looks at the bottle, label in shreds around it from his anxious picking.

"Um, nah. It's late, I'd best be gettin' back."

There's the snick of a lighter flicking on. "You don't gotta." Marty looks up in surprise, heart thumping loudly. Rust zeroes in on him like he can hear it, sucking a lungful of tobacco like it's a joint. "Can stay," he adds, shrugging one shoulder. Marty thinks of his lonely, dark little flat in town. He thinks of Rust's equally dank room above the bar, just as lonely.

"Yeah?" Marty croaks.

"Yeah, Marty."

Excitement shivers up Marty's spine, remembering exactly how good the frantic cope in the office had felt. He drains the dregs of his beers and stands, carrying the last stack of evidence over to Rust instead of sliding it down the counter. He sets it between them and leans on the bar with both hands, watching Rust pick it up and package it away. They really are nice hands. Marty chews his cheek and pretends it doesn't make his pulse skip when Rust glances up at him coolly.

The quiet is suddenly oppressive, the weight of their investigation and the almost inevitable fate they'll meet. It's hard to admit he's afraid, but then again he had barely been living before Rust walked back into his life. Since 2002 he's been in a stasis, drifting like he's been waiting for him. The frustration is now he has Rust back, he's gonna lose him all over again.

Rust sets the last envelope on the stack, he takes the cigarette from between his lips and taps the column of ash into an empty Lone Star can. "So, you want another beer or you wanna go upstairs?"

They ascend the stairs like a funeral march. Even as Marty's head buzzes with anticipation, his chest aches like there's something sharp twisting in between his ribs. But he'd follow Rust anywhere. He opens the door for them, stepping aside to let Marty in like he's a gentleman. All the anxiety comes rushing up, lodging in his throat and Marty knows he's seconds away from saying something stupid. Instead, as soon as Rust shuts the door, he presses his chest to Rust's back and wraps his arms around him.

Marty feels Rust freeze with his palm flat against the door, and Marty holds his breath. Their boundaries were never clear, a foggy line between them that oscillated wildly depending on the day (or affair, or sobriety). Right now all Marty wants is there to be nothing between them. They're both breathing heavily, almost in time with each other. Next to the half-open window a fan hums softly, rustling pages of a book as he swivels.

In increments Rust relaxes against him, his hand hesitantly comes up and covers Marty's on his ribs. He can feel the ridges of the bones beneath his thin shirt. Rust's fingers lace between his, clutching tightly. Marty cautiously turns his head and presses his lips against Rust's neck, loose strands of hair sticking to his sweaty cheek. Rust's breath catches and the walls seems to crumble.

Rust grips Marty's hand and pushes it down his chest, guiding it under the hem of his shirt. Marty breathes shakily against the hot skin of Rust's hairline, palm blazing a trail over his stomach. He's softer there, not as much as Marty, but there's a belly where once taut muscle had tortured Marty's imagination. It makes him feel more real, almost vulnerable.

He mouths at Rust's neck and the taught muscle at the junction of it. He maps Rust's chest, shirt ridding up his arm until he reaches Rust's neck. With a sigh Rust tips his head back onto Marty's shoulder. It feels like some kind of permission and Marty can't resist the new skin, mouth draw to it like a moth to a flame. Finally, Rust's other hands comes off the door and latches onto Marty's other wrist pushes him down over the front of his jeans. He's been half hard since he touches Rust's navel. It's an intense relief to feel Rust hard under his palm, even if it is still a foreign feeling.

"Fuck," Marty whines, squeezing the hard line of him through the denim before fumbling with his belt. When he gets it open he shoves his hand inside and is thrilled by the noise that escapes Rust.

"Marty," Rust pants, turning in Marty's arms and kissing him hard enough to make them stumble. He groans into Rust's mouth, seizing his hips and giving as good as he gets. Rust's nail dig into the feathery hair at the base of his skull, crushing their mouths together. Desperation gets mixed up with the hunger, Marty clings to the warm form of Rust, more alive now than he's seemed for weeks.

Suddenly the back of his knees collide with the bed and he sits heavily, catching himself on his hands. Rust stands between his knees, staring at him with an intensity Marty wishes he could shy away from but can't. Without breaking eye-contact Rust reaches up and pulls the band from his hair. It descends in waves across his cheek, grays and browns tangled up in each other. He's frozen watching strip in front of him until he's naked beside a pile of clothes. Even hiding away in Alaska- and wherever else he went- hasn't faded Rust's tan. All that skin, an endless path of Texan sunlight.

"Oh," Marty breaths as Rust plants a knee next to him. Rust kisses him before he can say anything more, not as wildly as before but full of heat like gasoline that pours through Marty's veins and lights him on fire. Warm, reassuring weight settles in his lap and they moan as he sits on Marty's very hard, very confined dick.

"Touch me," Rust croaks, arching forward until their chests press together and Marty drops back. He grabs onto Rust's biceps to stop him from crushing him, Rust barely seems to notice too busy kissing him. Locks of hair brush Marty's temple and he reaches up, gathering them up and tucking them behind Rust's ear. A small broken noise leaves Rust and his hands grab at Marty's t-shirt, shoving it up until they manage to wrangle it over his head.

For a moment, even with Rust's teeth on his collarbone, Marty is overwhelmed with self-consciousness. The soft curve of his gut presses against Rust's stomach but he can feel Rust's hardness slide against his and all that worry flies out the window.

"Jesus," he wheezes and runs his hands down the sweaty curve of Rust's spine, feeling it curve like a wave under his palm.

"'S just me," Rust murmurs, pressing back as Marty's gropes his ass and Marty chuckles. He reaches between them and pushes Marty's pants out of the way, leaving him to flail and kick them off. They kiss for a while, like Rust is giving Marty a moment to calm down. Although the way he keeps grinding his hips into Marty's isn't doing anything to calm anyone. Eventually Rust shifts, reaching above their heads and patting around beneath a pillow. He finds what he's looking for and sits up, a tube of lube in his fist.

"You've done this before," Rust says breathlessly as he coats his own fingers and reaches blindly behind him. He sees the muscle in Rust's forearm jump and his back arc and Marty's mouth dries up.

"Y-yeah." A furrow forms between Rust's brow as he closes his eyes and his free hand digs into Marty's ribs.

"But not with a man."

"No-" He squeezes Rust's hips then hesitantly slides them over his cheeks, prying them apart so he can touch where Rust has two of his own fingers buried deep. He's wet and searing hot, it makes Marty dizzy and he can't stop himself pressing the tip of his finger in beside them. "-'S just you."

"Fuck, baby," Marty drawls, hooking his finger and tugging at his rim.

"Fuck you, man," Rust whimpers, thrusting back like he can't control himself. The air is stifling between them, Marty can't catch his breath. The fingers pull out with a wet noise and Rust kneels up, thighs trembling. Marty pulls his away and settles his hands on Rust's hips again, staring at the man in amazement as he palms the last of the lube onto Marty's cock before tossing it aside. The groan in sync as Rust takes him in, sinking inch by inch back into Marty's lap then rising without pause.

Rust slaps a hand onto his chest as he finds a rhythm that has the already painful heat building into an inferno. Marty plants his feet on the mattress from leverage to meet each of Rust's thrusts with his own and it makes Rust cry out. There's a sheen of sweat over his body that makes him glow in Marty's eyes and he deliriously wonders if Synesthesia can be sexually transmitted. He still looks elegant, almost fluid, even surrounded by the wet slap of flesh and grunts of exertion of two old men at it. Marty can't help smiling as he pants, one hand covering the whorls of old gunshot wounds on Rust's abdomen, watching Rust's red cock bob obscenely.

"'S so good, baby," he says huskily, loving how it makes Rust arc and shove himself of Marty's dick in a way Marty never expected from someone so composed. He's so caught up in memorising the sight above him, he hardly feels his orgasm until it's right there. "Rust, shi-t!" He moans and comes, twisting his hips at the almost painful wave of pleasure rushing over him.

Rust keeps riding, unrelenting, a new flush of pink blooming over his chest. "Marty, Marty, Marty," he chants desperately.

"I got you, baby," Marty croaks and wraps his hand around Rust's cock. In just a few strokes and frantic thrusts Rust comes with a silent cry. His whole body curves like a wave and he tilts his head back, brow furrowed and eyebrows raised over closed eyes. Warm come hits Marty's chest, splashing against his collarbone and all down his heaving belly. Rust rocks in his lap in some kind of trance as he comes down, Marty cock feels like it might be bruised but he doesn't want to complain when Rust looks that content.

The world around them slowly tunes back in, Marty is suddenly aware of the fan still whirring nearby and the cool air from the open window. Rust blinks at the ceiling sleepily and licks his lips before rising onto his knees so Marty's cock slips free-which he barely reacts to- and swinging his leg from over Marty's like a cowboy dismounting. Marty sits up on his elbows and watches Rust get off the bed and go to the tiny en suite across the room. His gaze is draw to the shiny mess between Rust's cheeks and thighs, the sight makes him blush and look away. He looks at his palm and then his chest, both sticky with the same reside, and uses his foot to pick up his abandoned shirt and wipe it off.

"Wanna smoke?" Rust calls over the squeak of a tap and the rush of water into a basin.

"Nah."

"Light one up for me." Marty peers around and sees over his shoulder a crumpled pack and lighter sitting on a stack of books beside the bed. He rolls onto his belly, wincing as his over-sensitive dick presses into the sheets, and reaches from the carton. It's a different brand than the ones Rust used to chain smoke. Camels. That smell followed Marty for years as a source of turmoil and then comfort. He'd pass a strange and catch a whiff of the tobacco on them and be hit with a wave of longing. For a while he even tried smoking them himself but he'd never had the taste for them, enjoyed the contact high rather than the hit itself. It just wasn't the same as smelling it on the passenger seat, along with stale coffee and backseat philosophy lessons.

"Hey, you gotta t-shirt I can borrow?" He asks as he shakes one out and puts it between his lips and looks at the spines of the books. They're just as morbid as the ones that used to sit in Rust's old place, might even be the very same. Marty remembers breaking in after the fight, fearing the worst when no one answered the door. He'd found the place empty. It had felt ghostly when Rust had been living there but when he was gone it truly seemed haunted, nothing left but the impression of a cross on the wall.

A shirt smacks into the back of his head and makes him flinch. "You gonna light that or chew it?" Rust asks, amusement in his voice and Marty chuckles. He's still buck naked but more composed, with his hair loose. It's growing on Marty, although the mustache isn't, his top lip feels scraped raw. He sits up on the edge of the bed and offers the cigarette and lighter to Rust so he can put the t-shirt on. When he pulls it over his head Rust is there between his knees, puffing a cloud of smoke into the air and watching Marty carefully. Marty can see the apprehension, he might not be able to read Rust as easily as he can read him, but they were partners for years. He picked up on a few things.

He sniffs and puts his hands on Rust's hip, pulling him closer. The sight of his soft cock still makes Marty's stomach flip but it's not nearly as intimidating as he'd expected, it feels more intimate even thought just minutes ago they'd been locked other like animals in heat. Marty kisses his navel and murmurs, "you sleep naked?"

"That a problem," Rust murmurs, free hand running up Marty's neck into his feathery hair.

"Can't say it is," Marty replies then wraps his arms around Rust's hips and lifts him around onto the bed where he lands with a soft 'oof'. Marty leans over, insinuating himself between Rust's legs and peering at him. Rust's hair splays out in a halo of grey and straw-blond, his fingers rub spirals into Marty's shoulder. Reality is starting to seep in and drain away the warmth of the afterglow. Marty wants to cling to it a little longer and kisses Rust softly. "Reckon I might even like it."

-

When Marty wakes he doesn't know where he is for a minute. It's warm and bright, whatever amount he drank last night (and it wasn't much but he's getting old) leaves him squinting blearily around the room. He closes his eyes and inhales the smell of tobacco and stale beer and sex, making his stomach flip. His hand runs up the arm thrown across his chest to the hand loosely holding his shoulder. Rust.

"Hm," he sighs to himself and turns his head to nose at the head tucked against his cheek, wiry hair scratching his lips. The weighty lump of Rust that's half sprawled over him in a surprising display of clingy-ness shifts at the press of his lips. "Didn't know you slept," Marty mumbles teasingly.

The reply comes muffled as Rust turns his face into Marty's neck like he might just bury himself there and never get up. Marty thinks he wouldn't mind one bit. "Didn't know you snored."

"I do not, you goddamn liar," Marty grunts, squeezing Rust a little with both hands. Finally, Rust leans up on his elbows and even half asleep he's assembling that impenetrable mask of his. Marty realises they've got shit to do still, they can't stay in the bubble he's made. He reads the same thought on Rust's face as he starts getting up and Marty curls a hand around his ribs.

"I gotta open up the bar," Rust croaks but doesn't resist when Marty pulls him back in for a kiss. He lingers, can't help himself since Rust doesn't quite know how to hide when Marty touches him like that, can't conceal the longing he shares too.

"I've got a date with Papania anyhow," Marty sighs against his lips, pressing another kiss there before letting him go. Rust snorts more than laughs but it's something and makes Marty smile as he watches him find a pair of cargoes on the floor and pull them on, commando. Great, Marty's gonna have that on his mind for the rest of the day. He groans and sits up, feeling muscles he hasn't had to use in a long while protest. "You don't happen to have a shirt an' tie around here that I can borrow too?"

"That'd be optimistic," Rust replies, buckling his belt and looking at Marty sardonically.

He laughs. "Still don't gotta bedside manner, man."

He catches a smile tilting Rust's lips before he turns away and picks up a shirt to wear from on top of some supply boxes for the bar. "You want coffee before you go?"

"Naw," Marty makes himself get out of bed and find his pants. "Best go by the flat and grab a change of clothes."

Rust hums and that's the last they say to one and other until they're out in the parking lot. Marty opens the car door and pauses, looking at Rust at the boot of it lighting a cigarette. He leans a casual forearm on the roof and chews his lip. "You wanna come by tonight? I'll they you whatever Papania says. Even make you dinner."

"Didn't know you knew what an oven was, Marty."

"Screw you," Marty huffs, kicking the gravel under his feet before adding. "I got beer, better than the watered down piss here."

Rust plants a hand on his hip and looks away on an exhale, and Marty knows he's giving in. "Yeah, a'right. I'll come by." Marty bites the inside of his cheek to resist smirking and taps the top of the car. When he gets in and drives away he watches Rust slowly shrink away in the wing-mirror. He doesn't move from his spot even when he becomes a dark line in the distance. When the trees finally obscure his view, Marty turns his full attention back to the road and a sense of loss clutches at his chest.

-

He meets Papania in some diner with good coffee. It's antagonist in a familiar way, reminds Marty of working at the CID where everything was bravado and attitude. He suffered from a bad case of it during his time, but Papania and Gilbough seem a little more levelheaded.

He leaves the diner with in an air of nostalgia for the good old days that hits him from time to time. Inevitably it's snuffed out by Geraci's smug, round face and the feeling of absolute rage and fear as his life fell apart around him. This time, though, as he gets in the car there's a glimmer of something else that comes with a flash of suntanned skin in morning light.

When he gets back to the flat the only thing left to do is wait for tomorrow. That swell of fear that gripped him last night returns like a balloon expanding in his chest. The ease at which Rust had admitted his contentment to die makes Marty nauseous. Now, after everything, he doesn't want him to leave. It's selfish but he always has been, how can it be fair to lose Rust so soon after getting him back?

Marty sinks onto the couch and undoes his tie, tossing it onto the coffee table. It's still early yet, sky through the balcony window baby-blue, but Marty feels like he's going to come out of his skin if he doesn't do something. He stands and goes to his home phone on the kitchen counter, dialing the number he memorised days ago.

"Yeah," Rust rasps down the line, calm as ever and it instantly makes Marty relax.

"Hey, Rust. It's me."

"I know."

"Are you... Do you..." Marty swallows, staring at the white-walls he'd always meant to paint.

"Marty?" Rust prompts, sounding tired.

"Would you come over?" He blurts and squeezes his eyes shut in embarrassment, expecting the inevitable no.

There's a pause then Rust softly says, "I gotta close up tonight."

"Yeah, right- yeah, no, it's fine I just wanted-" Marty sighs at his stammering. "It's fine, I'll see ya tonight." He hangs up before he can make more of an idiot of himself. Before Marty could hold it together around Rust, suppress that unknown urge he'd get to fight or flight. He hadn't understood himself then and it had ruined everything, but now he knows what it is. The way he blathered on the phone was just the way he'd trip over himself talking to Maggie when they met. Years down the line, he's still a bumbling college pledge looking at the prettiest person in the room and falling in love. It fucking hurts.

There's a packet of cigarettes he has tucked away in the miscellaneous draw in the kitchen, among dead batteries and rubber-bands and loose change. It only comes out on special occasions and this feels like one. He fishes out a cig (leaving the pack in the draw) along with a box of matches from a hotel and takes it out onto the balcony. It's annoying how contrary the big blue sky is to his mood, he wants it to be stormy or raining.

He lights up and stares at the wisps of clouds accusingly. The first inhale makes him cough every time and he leans over the rails and spits into the court. The pack of cigarettes is old, crumpled, some of the cigs are torn. They're Camels and Marty picked them up from the parking lot ground outside the CID on the last day he saw his partner. So, they are special. Four remain in the pack and he wonders if the next one he smoke will be at Rust's funeral. He presses his palm over his eyes and sighs.

He hears two cars pass, the horn of one blare in the distance, and a four come to a stop nearby. Marty opens his eyes and looks down at the familiar sight of Rust's battered pick up. The man himself slides out of the driver's seat, smoking steadily, and Marty's stomach does a somersault. Then Rust head turns up toward him and his stomach turns into a goddamn dreydl.

When there's a knock on his door he calls, "'s open!" He hears the clicks of it opening and closing, and the falls of Rust's boots on his carpet. The balcony door slides open and Rust steps out, simultaneously calming and wracking Marty's nerves. He came... Marty called and he came even though he was supposed to close up. There's barely room for two people so his arm presses against Marty's shoulder where he's still leaning over the rails.

After a long minute of silence Rust says, "gonna share?"

"Get your own," Marty shoots back, a flush rising on his cheeks like Rust might know where it comes from if he touches it. Out of the corner of his eye he seems Rust pull out his own pack and light one up. Marty snorts. "Cheapskate."

They smoke in silence, Marty finishes long before him but is content enough to just listen to Rusts inhale and exhales, like a shitting meditation tape. Rust taps the last pinch of ash from the end and mashes it into the railing. He touches Marty's bicep and mutters, "hey."

Marty straightens up, about to ask what, then Rust kisses him. Right there, daylight, on his balcony. He really could melt and has to curl one hand around the rail to stay standing, the other wrapping around Rust's waist. God, it's good. Rust is a clumsy kisser, or maybe he just overthinks it the way he overthinks everything. Too much tongue then too much teeth, moves his mouth like hes trying to talk in the middle of it. It doesn't matter really, Marty loves it and chases it. Doesn't want to have to miss it.

He pulls back, momentarily delighted by the way Rust lingers but there's so much buzzing around in his head. "Sorry."

Rust's hands shift from his biceps to his neck, thumbs nestling in the hinge of his jaw. "What's eatin' you, Marty?"

For a moment Marty thinks he's going to spill it all, every last thing until he's a puddle at Rust's feet. Then he looks at Rust's face, the exhaustion and the softness. "Jus'..." He sighs, palming the curve of Rust's spine. "The last few days catchin' up with me. You wanna order somethin'?"

"Thought you were gonna cook for me."

"Yeah. Maybe after everything-" Marty says significantly, watching the flicker in Rust's eyes. "-I'll cook you up a storm."

Rust thumbs his jaw and looks anywhere but his eyes. "Okay, Marty."

They go inside and order pizza and eat it in front of the telly, watching some rerun of a football game. In a slow progression their knees touch and then their thighs, shoulders, hands brush and weave together. Rust is the one who makes them go to bed, rousing Marty from his doze and leading them to the bedroom. He helps him undress, and undresses himself, slipping under the covers with him without a word. Feeling his heart ache, Marty turns toward him and lays a hand on his stomach wishing he could find the words he need to explain himself. They lay together in the dark and, eventually, Marty drifts off to Rust's steady breathing.