What he sees most days is Marty. Has been for a while, too. There was the case, of course, a good distraction. And the ghosts. Sophia, like a bruise in his mind. Or a broken bone he’s grown very good at carrying under his skin.
The job is just shadows: something to fix your gaze onto when you’re ready to close your eyes. Sophia is real, but not the same way Marty is: flesh and blood. He’s standing on the way when Rust tries to get a cup of coffee. He bumps his shoulder into Rust’s when they pass each other by on the corridor. He takes Rust’s cigarette from his hand when he’s forgotten about it and there’s ash in his lap. How fucking poetic.
At this exact moment, Marty is everything that’s left. They solved the case. Ledoux is dead. It’s all over. No one’s going to need them tonight. No shadows in the corner, no reason to get your shit together and act like a human being for one more day.
There will be more days, of course, more things: they’re going to have to talk about the case, tell the story over and over again effortlessly like it’s true, but not too effortlessly so that it doesn’t look like they rehearsed it. Which is exactly what they are going to do. But it’s just words, and Marty is real, pouring himself a cup of coffee and then spilling it onto his shirt. He starts taking off the shirt. Rust stares. He’s maneuvered himself in between Marty and the sink, too close, closer than he’s supposed to, but Marty’s not good with measurements. Always comes to stand too close to Rust anyway. Like it doesn’t mean anything.
“Fuck,” Marty says, inspecting the stain on the fabric.
“I’ve got a washing machine.”
“Yeah, I know,” Marty says, shrugs the shirt off his shoulders and leaves it on the counter. He’s been staying at Rust’s place for three and a half weeks now. Feels much longer. Rust takes a step closer to him and he doesn’t even notice. It’s painfully obvious that whatever was in Rust’s blood has already rubbed off. The mix of cocaine and booze. He misses it like a limb but it’s not here and Marty is. “What the hell,” Marty says, rubbing his chin, then glances at Rust, blinks. “What the hell are we supposed to do now?”
“I don’t know.”
Obviously Marty is talking about the case. It’s over, what’re they going to do? It’s over, but nothing’s fixed. The victims are dead except for one who’d maybe be better off if she was. Marty’s still here, in Rust’s kitchen, because his wife isn’t talking to him. A useless man, a little drunk from the whiskey he’s been sipping the whole day, even though he’s been making a point not to let Rust see. It’s almost touching.
“I don’t think I can sleep,” Marty says. It sounds like a challenge.
Rust licks his lips. In any other day, he wouldn’t say anything. He knows what Marty’s like. He knows what he’s like. One thing leads to another. If it’s not inevitable, it sure as hell is going to look like that afterwards.
He reaches over Marty’s shoulder to open the cupboard door and Marty flinches. His eyes get stuck on Rust’s arm for a second, then whisk over his torso, avoid his crotch, end up looking at nothing. The guilt of a straight married man. In any other day, Rust wouldn’t bother.
“I’m not going to sleep,” he tells Marty.
Marty nods. He looks like he’s considering something. Bullshit.
“You probably wouldn’t want to keep me company,” Rust says and pours water in a glass. Simple things.
Marty stares at him like it was a challenge. It wasn’t. It was a trap. “Well, it sure as hell doesn’t look like you’ve got something better to do.”
“True,” he admits.
“Unless you want to be alone,” Marty says, almost as if he knows what he’s doing.
“No,” Rust says. He’s not playing. There’s one thing left and it’s Marty, and Marty’s pulling his shoulders back and trying to look tall and manly and all the fucking nonsense, right at Rust’s face. It’s not a hardship to imagine how warm Marty would be. In bed. Without clothes. Marty would be warm which is just convenient because it’s cold in here, Rust’s been fucking freezing ever since the hangover from the last week hit him. Or from the last five years. Hard to tell the difference.
“You don’t want to be alone,” Marty’s saying now, like he’s asking for more information.
“Yeah,” Rust says, “I really don’t. Not tonight.”
“Because of –“
“The kids and –“
“Yeah,” he says and empties his glass of water. Marty’s staring at his mouth. “I like your company, Marty.”
Marty clears his throat. “What?”
“You can’t be surprised,” Rust says and takes a step back. Marty follows him. The bastard smells of sweat, beer and whiskey. Maybe not the best mix for an alcoholic who can’t remember when he last touched a person.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Marty asks.
“Just what I said.”
“I’m not surprised. I just… I’m just wondering what the hell you meant with it.”
“I meant,” Rust says and takes a deep breath. Everything comes to an end. Nothing is ever completely real. If it were, maybe it wouldn’t break so easily. “I meant, what would you like to do?”
Marty narrows his eyes. He looks like he’s ready to either punch Rust in the face or grab his dick. The options aren’t bad. “You asking me what I want to do?”
“Like, do I want to, I don’t know, play with cards or –“
“Yeah,” Rust says, “whatever you like.” He lets the words go out a little slower. Marty will notice. The man’s an idiot but not when it comes to this kind of a thing. Marty Hart fucking thinks that everybody likes him, suspects that everybody wants to fuck him, and the only reason why he’s not thought about this particular possibility before is that Rust’s been careful not to show it. It’s not been hard. Marty’s very eager to read him wrong.
“Rust,” Marty says, chewing on his lower lip.
Rust tilts his head back and looks at him. It’s a warm night and they aren’t wearing much clothes. Marty’s already drunk. Rust’s mind is already half-numb with the loneliness. It wouldn’t be such big of a step.
“I’m getting mixed signals here,” Marty says, his eyes moving back and forth on Rust’s face. “I realize that I’ve been drinking quite a lot today, but really, it almost feels like you’re trying to make a pass at me or something.”
“Is that so,” Rust says.
“Can’t be,” Marty says, but he’s still so close in Rust’s personal space that it’s like he’s dug himself in with a fucking shovel.
“Right,” Rust says and puts a hand on Marty’s side. The worn undershirt is damp with sweat. Marty frowns at him. He clears his throat, puts his other hand on the back of Marty’s neck, splays his fingers. There’s no way Marty doesn’t know what’s going on in here. There’s no way.
He keeps Marty’s head in place with one hand. It’s easy because Marty’s not doing anything about it. He leans down and presses their mouths together, and Marty opens his and kisses back.
He pushes Marty against the counter. Marty shoves him at the chest but looks delighted, the goddamn fool. This is going to be clumsy. He gets rid of Marty’s clothes as quickly as he can and Marty stares at him with a look on his face like he absolutely didn’t have a clue, like he never in his wildest dreams thought that Rust might be into something like this. He wants to point out that Marty never considered the possibility. He wants to argue. He wants to keep Marty pressed against the wall for hours and have a long conversation about whether it was fucking obvious that he’s been barely thinking about anything else than Marty ever since he started with job. Anyone with a fucking eyesight would’ve noticed that he’s got his knickers wet for Marty Hart. Marty who is an idiot should have at least noticed that Rust’s letting him close, him and no one else. There’s absolutely no reason for Marty look so innocently surprised now, as Rust opens his zipper and tugs his trousers down to his ankles and then stops to hold his face in between his hands for a second. Yeah, he likes Marty’s face. He likes it a lot. Likes Marty’s mouth, too. Would like to see his dick disappear in there. Doesn’t care either way. Marty’s warm and doesn’t pull away when Rust pushes his hands everywhere. That’s good enough.
“Rust,” Marty says. He sounds breathless, which is fucking right, because his dick is pressing hard against the crook of Rust’s thigh. He’s still got boxers on. “Rust, what do you think –“
“I don’t care.”
“You don’t care,” Marty says and laughs, “is that so? You don’t care. What if I want to, I don’t know, watch TV?”
“I don’t have a TV.”
“You can fuck me,” he says and moves his hand up and down over Marty’s crotch, brushes the shape of his dick with his knuckles. Marty flinches. It’s fucking adorable.
“Yeah. You can fuck me, if you like.”
“Why would you –“
“I’d like it. Obviously.”
Marty tilts his head to the side and looks at him. “So, you have –“
“What if I –,” Marty says and takes a deep breath. “What if I’m not, I don’t know, familiar?”
“It’s not so difficult,” Rust says. “Just shove your dick in my arse. That’s pretty much it.”
Marty looks very serious about it.
“I’ll get myself ready in the bathroom if you want to keep it simple,” Rust says, even though he doesn’t really want to do that. He wants skin. He needs something that fills the empty places that keep rattling when he moves. Whatever is left of him now that he’s not working on a case and he can still feel the coke from yesterday like an absent hand petting his hair. Or holding him down by his throat. Whatever fuck is the difference there. “Marty,” he says, and it comes out as a plea.
“Yeah,” Marty says, pulls on his brave face and grabs Rust’s arm, “no, I don’t need you to do that. Maybe we should just, I don’t know, start with kissing.”
“We already kissed.”
“Yeah. Like, for five seconds.”
“It was more like fifteen.”
“Rust,” Marty says, pushes his hands under Rust’s shirt and pulls up. Rust lets himself be undressed. “If this isn’t some kind of a joke, maybe we could start being nice about it.”
“It’s not a joke.”
“Yeah, so I figured,” Marty says. He’s got rid of Rust’s shirt, and now he undoes Rust’s zipper and palms Rust’s dick through the fabric. “Alright.”
“Marty,” Rust says and closes his eyes for a second. There’re colors but they’re inside his head. Marty’s touch is bright blue. Makes his knees unsteady. “We’ve got to use a condom. There’s stuff that I’ve… I’m not exactly clean.”
“Alright,” Marty says and touches his face. “Look at me, Rust.”
He opens his eyes again.
“What do you want?” Marty asks. “What do you actually want?”
What Rust wants is to lie down in the bed, naked, their skin warm and damp and clued together, their limbs entangled like nothing’s going to solve that mess. Their goddamn existence occupying the same place in a time-space continuum for a few minutes. So that he wouldn’t be so fucking lonely.
“You can fuck me,” he says. That’s easier to explain.
“You want that.”
“Bullshit,” Marty says and pushes his hand into Rust’s underpants. He looks surprised like someone who’s never touched another man’s dick before and didn’t expect the angle. “You’re trying to play me. I can tell.”
Well, that’s impressing. And worrying. “Really?”
“I don’t know why,” Marty says, “I don’t know why you’d fucking tell me I can fuck you when you just look like you want to kiss my face. You think that I’d walk out on you or something?”
That’s exactly what Rust knows Marty’s going to do.
“No,” Rust says, reaches for Marty’s hips and tugs his underpants down to his ankles. Then he gets rid of his own boxers. His heart is in his throat. He tries to swallow it. Marty’s staring at him, but when he closes his eyes, everything tastes like honey. You could drown in it.
He keeps his eyes open and walks Marty to the bed. There’s a good chance that he’s going to get Marty to fuck him, and Marty’s going to like it, and it’s going to be easier tomorrow, because Marty can put it into a story that makes sense. A good cop gets a chance to fuck his partner, it’s surprising, maybe a little shocking, but a hole is a hole, and the case was very demanding, and he’s drunk anyway, and his partner seems more than willing, and they use a condom, and afterwards it’s almost like he won a prize. He didn’t even have to look his partner in the face, could imagine that there was his wife instead. Even good men slip sometimes.
That kind of a story.
He kisses Marty and gives Marty all the access, arranges himself in the bed so that it’d be easy for Marty to accidentally brush a thumb over his asshole. Or tell him to do it himself. Because he would. And Marty knows. But Marty keeps kissing him, and it’s the sweet kind of drunk kissing. Too much feeling. Everything’s a mess. Light blue and violet. The honey drips through. He thought he couldn’t handle it. But this is Marty. He lies on his back and lets Marty kiss him for an eternity, and it’s good. It’s all good.
When Marty gets his hand on Rust’s cock, Rust’s already kind of past arguing. He can’t remember words. What he thinks about is the light on the ceiling. It doesn’t stay put. He thought he’d die last night. He really thought so. He thought someone was going to shoot him in the head, possibly Ginger, which would’ve been fucking convenient after everything he’s managed to get away with. He thought he was going to end up dead in a ditch and didn’t feel a fucking thing. Maybe he said to himself that it was because of the coke, but he was wrong. They aren’t endless. Humans. If you rip them off, eventually there’s nothing left. Only shadows and ghost.
Marty’s hand is warm and firm and he’s not very gentle about it, which is kindness at this point. Rust wants to tell him that. What comes out is a broken moan. Marty looks shocked. He touches Marty’s dick, an eye for an eye and all that. He could do so much for Marty, he could blow Marty or have Marty’s cock in his arse or whatever Marty might think of, he would do everything, he would fucking let himself be folded in half or tied and hit and whatever if he could have Marty’s skin pressed against his.
And instead, he jerks Marty off as Marty jerks him off, and everything fades, and everything goes quiet.
He wants nothing more than a good hit of coke.
He wants nothing more than Marty to knock him out of it.
He wants nothing more than break himself in pieces until there’s nothing left of this man he was never supposed to be. He wants to put the pieces together again. He wants to fill the empty spaces. He wants to turn around this life and forget he ever lived it. And he wants to disappear.
When he opens his eyes, the room is full of Marty’s breathing and soft colors. He has his arm draped over Marty’s back. Marty’s knee is in between his thighs. The sheets are a mess. They both smell of sex. He needs to piss.
He stays in the bathroom a little longer than is necessary. Marty doesn’t say anything when he comes back. He drinks a little water and thinks about the blowjob he should’ve given Marty. Maybe he could’ve impressed the bastard with that. Marty would’ve been happy. Not that Marty looks unhappy now, but Marty’s an idiot and obviously not thinking about the next morning.
“Hey,” Marty says, when Rust gets back to the bed. “Can I sleep here?”
Marty nods. “I don’t want to mess up anything with you.”
“Because I’ve got this feeling that, I don’t know that this is… that you were...” Marty takes a deep breath. “I didn’t think you liked me much, Rust.”
“Well, you were wrong,” Rust says and rolls onto his back. He’s cold. Marty’s too far away. “Can I ask you something?”
“Yeah,” Marty says. He sounds suspicious. He’s damn right to be. There’s a very good possibility that Rust is going to ruin everything. But he can’t think about anything else.
“Can you kiss me?” he asks.
Marty stares at him for a long time and then nods.