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Leaving Behind

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Title: Leaving Behind.
Author: Neichan
Fandom: Appaloosa
Rating: FRT for oblique mention of sex.
Genre: Slash/het implied.
Disclaimer: Absolutely not mine. Robert B Parker is a god among authors.
Summary: Everett reflects.

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We weren't always in town and there weren't always women to be had,
not even whores. Truth be told Virgil didn't seem particularly
attached to bedding down with whores and those few times he did, he
was quick about it, making it all business, and a business that didn't
take long. I never knew him to favor one whore over any other, like I
sometimes found I did. For the most part he had nothing much to do with them.

It was other women he liked, women who were clean and respectable. He
seemed to attract them in a quiet way, women who would look at him and
see something that they knew was rare as a mythical beast, a man the
like of which they wouldn't see again in their life. They liked the
danger that rode him like a second skin despite his polite manners.
The respectable women, those times didn't come all too often. Most
times Cole ignored women. He rarely spoke of them when it was just him
and me. He didn't share them, not even to save money when it was
tight, nor did he like to share a room when he was with them as some
men did.

Sex wasn't a thing much talked about between us, a more private man on
the subject I never knew; not even on nights when we were alone under
nothing but a wide open sky and miles between us and any other thing
human. Even then he spoke of other things or of nothing at all. He was
not a man afraid of being silent.

Yet, I knew that was the thing that made him vulnerable. Sex and women.
He was formal and correct with the respectable women when he met them,
not a hint of what I knew he must be like in private to keep them coming on
after him. He did bed down with a few, even married women, but only
after they came after him. And they looked at him in ways no woman
ever looked at me, or looked at most other common men.

I'd been with him for more than a year before he rolled over and put
his hand on me. It was in a pine board hotel room, where we shared a
room and a bed only suited to people not opposed to laying close. Most
rooms that day were shared, being in short supply, and you could get
more than close with anyone you shared with especially if one of them
was large as I was.

Virgil rolled to the middle of the bed and put out his hand, laying it
on my hip, not having to reach all that far on account of the narrow
mattress. I felt the heat and weight of his hand through my union
suit, and I turned my face toward him. His hands were big, wide and
strong, bigger than my own though in every other way I was larger than him,
in some places the difference more than others.

He just put his hand on me, curving his strong fingers over my hip and
I was up against his body, feeling the tight bunch of his muscles against
my own, so the side of my hip was at his front. He was stimulated, hard
as iron, and no missing he wasn't small for any sized man. I felt that touch
of his hand all through me, like I had no other touch before him, whether it
had come from a woman or a man.

There was no bare skin, but two layers of cloth in the unheated room
necessary to keep us warm under the too thin quilt, with the unfilled
cracks in the walls where warped boards didn't quite meet and the
wind had no trouble finding a way through. I'd seen him bare naked
before, any man traveling had to wash from time to time, and we had
no shyness of that between us. But this was the first deliberate
touch of its kind.

Almost from the first I knew we fit better then most, Virgil and me. I
knew men, soldiering hadn't given me much time to spend with the other
sex aside from whores if I didn't count my mother raising me. I'd been
close to some of those other men, and I'd had some things done with me
and them, too. If a man waited for a woman out here, out where the
army sent us or further west, none of us would have had any relief.
Shooting, seeing men die, it changes a man, makes him practical. I
learned that right off. Ten months of nothing but sleeping in the
rough barracks, riding the country, killing when it was needed, and I
got real practical.

So it wasn't the first time a man had put his hand on me. But those
other men weren't Virgil Cole.

We didn't talk about it after. Nor the times that followed. Didn't
happen often, certainly not often as I would like, and we spoke no
words about what it meant. The one time I tried to say it in words
was years later, when I stood under the roof of a less than half
finished house in a small town called Appaloosa, with Virgil's woman
Allie French in my arms after she had kissed me and I kissed her
back. I pushed her away like I had never done to him.

"You're with Virgil, Allie." I told her, careful with her, my voice
low, my hands keeping her from coming close again, even while
she wriggled in my hold, all soft and sweet smelling and giving
off all the heat I usually was happy to see. Just not when it was her,
cause I knew how Virgil felt about her, and I had nothing but
respect for that. She didn't seem to be getting what I was saying,
so I tried again, adding a little more explaining.

"...and so am I. We are both with him." I said. It was true. I squeezed her
narrow shoulders, willing her to hear what I was saying. What was Virgil's
was his, and I would not take it, no matter what it was. I saw in her eyes
that she didn't feel the same.

I don't know if she understood the fullness of what I was saying, she
may well have, because when I ran from her, back into the rain, the
mud sucking at my boots, she cursed me, swearing and calling me
a son of a bitch. So maybe she did know. I'd never tired to tell any
woman about the way it was between men, never knew if they had
an idea. I never would tell a woman again, not even hinting at it. Not
even the whores I got with who seemed not to mind the idea of me
and Cole sharing them.

It was gradual, but not long, me realizing he what he was to me. I
looked for him in the evening, saw him during the day and never tired
of his company. And as was done in frontier towns with too few rooms
and too little money, we shared plenty of rooms and beds, him and me,
whether we were working or not.

And if I hadn't loved him so much I wouldn't have killed Bragg for
him. Or been able to ride away like I did, to let him and Allie have a
chance. I never felt anything twisting inside my chest before, like it
did then, leaving him.

I sat tall on my horse and rode, not looking back, not letting the regret
turn my horse around. I'd done it for him, because he was Virgil Cole.

And I loved him.

nei