Title: Darkened Eyes

Fandom: Gone with the Wind

Rating: PG-13

Pairing: Rhett/ Ashley (non explicit)

Summary: The night Frank died, Rhett finds an understanding in alcohol and pain, with Ashley. Slash (non explicit)

He doesn't really recall how or even why it happened. All he remembers is the liquid anger, that flows through his veins like wine, heating his blood, brightening his eyes and making him feel alive, as so little did these days. He wonders casually as he nudges the glass across the table so much later, if he is getting old. Then he dismisses the thoughts.

Mr Wilkes, the honourable Ashley Wilkes, is standing there, swaying from side, and like a sick whisper, Rhett can see the blood trickle from under the jacket. For a moment he hesitates, thinks about what it'll mean if Ashley dies like this here and now, driving every trace of passion from Scarlett's heart at his foolishness at dying in such a thing. He laughs a little grimly. He should know better than that. Scarlett was a little fool sometimes, and he had little doubt that his death would be that of a martyr to her. She would imagine he had died for her sake, would honour his memory, weep decorous tears at his grave. So he strides forward, and takes Ashley by the arm, seats him at the table, and as quickly and efficently as only a soldier could do, he fashioned a makeshift bandage, after pouring alcohol on the wound. He stills for a moment, when he feels a hand push him away.

Ashley is saying something, but its too low for Rhett to hear, so he leans closer. The words are clear. "Leave it," and he staggers from his seat, obviously intending to leave. To die somewhere else. That's when the first tendrils of anger start curling through Rhett's stomach. He's not going to let this happen. Ashley will live. That will be his punishment for daring to steal the hearts of two women, while loving neither. He yanks the younger, smaller man back to the seat. Ashley is sweating- no doubt in pain, and Rhett takes a savage glee in the idea. He roughly shoves the flask towards him, lifts it to his mouth, when it is obvious Ashley can not or will not drink. Ashley's eyes are dark, darker than Rhett has ever seen them, and empty of all thought. His blond hair is plastered to his head, and he looks about twenty. Rhett finishes tying the bandages, tucks them out of sight, yanks Ashley up when he looks as though he'll slide to the ground. He bends and looks at Ashley, the grey eyes, that are now black with pain, and again he hears Ashley's voice. "Please let me go." He can tell this man has never begged before, his stiff neck wouldn't bend enough, and the voice cracks on the last word. "Please." The last word is quiet, even quieter than the others, and Rhett can feel Ashley's alcohol tinged breath on his cheek. The others are moving in the room next door, talking quietly amongst each other, and Rhett weighs up the instances.

He studies Ashley's features, and a cruel look crossed his features. "Live Ashley Wilkes. Let that be your penance." He doesn't know why, he does what he does next, doesn't know what madness given by the drink, the blood, the hate passes into him, only that he has pulled Ashley bodily up, is holding him up, as he kisses him. He hears himself mumbling, "what is it Mr Wilkes about your mouth and your touch, that tie them to you?" There is no reply, only a yielding, and from a fight, the kiss becomes complicit. A hasty, harsh, brutal kiss, but still a kiss that tastes of tears and blood and death. He knows this will never happen again, and he'll never want it to, but for now he will take what he can get, will break the man who has driven him to this strange insanity of hatred and lust, who has stolen what should be his, and now seeks to give it away.

Ashley is breathing heavily now, but at least he seems to be awake and aware. Rhett half carries him to the next room, and gestures at Hugh Elsing to join them. Hugh takes one arm, and Rhett takes the other, after he has swathed Ashley in his cloak. Belle throws them out, and surreptitiously passes him a nondescript cloak, belonging to another customer. He wraps himself in it, and throws a fold of it over Ashley, to keep him warm. It would not do to have him die of a cold. When he takes his leave from Melanie's house, he means what he said to the Yankee captain. He never wants to see Ashley Wilkes again, though perversely at the same time, he doubts that he can wait.

He knows Ashley most likely will not remember that moment of pain and despair, that the haze of alcohol and pain will block it out, and he is glad. He tells himself this even after Ashley's glance is puzzled and thoughtful, even as the silent complicity in the look galls him, makes him want to tear Ashley apart. They never speak of it, but Rhett wonders in unguarded moments, if the world had been different what would have come to pass.

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