Title: Dream of Drowning
Summary: Sometimes Vincent wonders if he'd saved someone already dead. [unrequited Eugene/Vincent
A/N: Written as a stocking stuffer for wearemany in Yuletide 2006.
Dream of Drowning
You watch me sometimes, in the darkness of night, from the doorway, thinking I do not know.
That's all right, I don't mind.
Too many nights it is the feel of your eyes on me, the phantom touch of your hand on my brow, that wakes me from the dream where I am myself again, Jerome Eugene Morrow, swimming towards the finish line always one stroke behind the competition.
I wake then, gasping, the taste of chlorine burning the back of my throat. But you -- you never say anything, a harsh voiceless presence in the dark. Seeing. Judging.
Once, another lifetime ago, I would not have let you remain silent, would not have rested until I'd pried you open, bloody and exposed, to get to the raw truth within. But I'm not the man I once, if ever, was.
Now I take only what you are willing to give.
Vincent lays the tips of his middle and index fingers against Eugene's upper thigh. One, two soft strokes down, then up.
It is summer outside the loft windows. Vincent has been living at the condo for four months, recuperating, learning.
"You still have some feeling here," Vincent murmurs in surprise, feeling Eugene's flesh quiver beneath his hand. His face is level with Eugene's hip and his fingers press against Eugene's bare knee.
"Some," Eugene agrees, voice stringently even.
Vincent turns to him with frank, appraising eyes. "How does it feel?"
"Elusive, irritating," he stares down into Vincent's face, "like waking from a dream you can't remember."
Vincent's hand absently slides up his thigh.
Eugene grabs the offending fingers. "Don't."
Vincent blinks, and straightens slightly so that they are staring eye to eye. "Don't what?" he says in that same guileless voice. As if he does not know. Does not care.
Eugene's voice is harsh; his grip on his hand tightens. "Don't start unless you intend to follow through."
Vincent opens his mouth to speak, but Eugene doesn't wait for his answer. Instead, he grabs him by the neck and kisses him full on the mouth, chaste but hard.
Vincent is frozen, unresponsive. Eugene pulls back, just enough to see his wide eyes. "I may have sold you my body," he tells him, "but don't tease," and lets him go.
Vincent stares at him, face first flushing then paling. Then, wordless, he grabs his cane from the floor and straightens from his crouch before Eugene's wheelchair. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. Then, without looking back, he limps out the room.
Eugene closes his eyes. The staccato tap of Vincent's cane echoes down the hall. "Don't be unkind," he murmurs to the empty room.
The woman is beautiful, like a marble statue or a painting. Beautiful and untouchable.
And so of course he grabs her by the wrist and pulls her down into his lap. He kisses her to hide the thin, carefully painted lines of her mouth that curls in distaste. When he ventures to lick the front of her clenched teeth, she bites him. The slippery, copper taste of his own blood floods his mouth. He smiles against her unyielding mouth, and lets her pull back from him.
She moves unobtrusively from his lap to perch on the arm of the sofa. "Good to see you're feeling better," she says, cool but civil.
Darling, Eugene smiles to himself, amused, You'll have to be more convincing than that.
"Now that you're here." He puts a special leer into his tone, and is rewarded by the sudden flare of heat in her eyes - it's revulsion but to someone who is not clear on the entirety of the situation, the heat might just pass as passion. "Who is your friend?"
"It's about the Director." Her voice is still stilted, but no longer as distant.
He feigns boredom. "Again?"
Together, hand in hand, they turn to face the suspicious investigator. Her hand clenches in a fist within his. She is a horrible liar. Her pale, stern face is a perfect mask of politeness. But her body and voice betrays all she seeks to hide.
Eugene casually forces his fingers through her clenched hand, and smiles lightly at the investigator.Irene Cassini may be a horrible liar. But he's not.
It's the last day before the launch.
When Vincent comes in at dawn, Eugene is waiting for him. Vincent doesn't see him, walks directly to the front of the incinerator and begins stripping in quick, economical movements. Then he catches sight of him in the burnished reflection of the incinerator walls. Vincent's fingers freeze on the buckle of his pants.
"She's a remarkable woman."
Vincent turns to faces him, hands falling limp to his sides.
"Yes. She is."
Something shows on his face then because Vincent, stricken, reaches for him. "Eugene - "
"Don't!" Vincent freezes. Eugene breathes out, and repeats in a calmer voice, "...don't. Please." He smiles wryly. "It's alright. It's for the best." He wheels across room. "I have something to show you," he says across the room to Vincent, and disengages a hidden door. It swings open, white clouds billowing out and dissipating to reveal two stainless-steel rows of four identical, industrial refrigerators.
"Enough stocked to last you two lifetimes."
Vincent slowly approaches; awe and an expression of disquiet struggle on his face. He stops in front of the two gleaming rows of refrigerators. Inside are thousands upon thousands of packs of blood, urine, skin cells, hairs. For a full half minute, he just stares at them. Then he lays a hand on the armrest of the wheelchair, and leans in to look at Eugene. "Why have you done this?" he asks in a low voice.
Eugene looks frankly at him. "In case you get back before I do." He pauses, quirks his lips. "I'm traveling too."
For one long heartbeat, they stare at each other in tense silence. Suddenly, Vincent drops down on one knee and pulls him into a tight hug. Eugene freezes for a second, before he carefully rests his arms around Vincent's shoulders.
"Thank you," Vincent whispers into Eugene's neck.
Eugene's arms tighten around him. "I got the better end of the deal," he answers quietly.
He's sober. Sober for the first time in five years.
Vincent is gone.
Eugene sits very straight in front of the open window and listens to the world lying outside in darkness. He hears a distant rumbling thunder. When he closes his eyes, he can see in the night sky a trail of fire that arcs into the cloud of stars.
There is a sudden sense of space that unfurls in his head, a sense of wonder, as if he is flying up there with Vincent, flying and weightless. And free.
He opens his eyes. The medallion lies glinting in his lap.
Absently, Eugene traces the embossed figure on the silver, strokes the faded silk ribbons. There is pain in it still, and regret and the ever-present shame. But the emotions that had once flared so brightly, now lay as muted embers beneath a thick, encompassing calm. Eugene is always calm when he has reached a decision.
He closes the window carefully, and wheels himself across the room to the incinerator. He locks and secures his wheelchair. Griping the medal tightly in one hand, he heaves himself in one breath out of the wheelchair and into the incinerator. The door swings close.
Inside, the stainless-steel walls curve tightly around him. Slowly, Eugene straightens the cuff of a sleeve, smoothes a wrinkle down his shirtfront, lines up the crease of his pants leg. When a lock of hair - shorter than the rest - brushes his cheek, he stills. For a moment he wishes, wishes -
But the room is cold, and Eugene feels now only the chill of the silver beneath his fingers. His hand is steady as he lifts the medallion from his lap and places it around his neck. He is aware of his heart beating, even and deliberate; he breathes in.
Vincent, he murmurs. My friend.
This is my last gift to you.
He flips the switch.
The fire that blazes up scours away everything.
end of "Dream of Drowning"