"Some say you killed a country, John, because of bad reviews."
"You're over simplifying it!"
"Oh, am I? Or are you over complicating it?"
The Proprietor sighed deeply, pushing his hat back. "No, sweetheart."
"Don't call me that!" The Balladeer snapped, "And I'm trying to tell a story here, so… step off."
"Yeah, but you're trying to tell a stupid story. You know damn well that he wasn't shooting Presidents for the fame."
The Balladeer frowned deeply, trying to ignore the comment. "Be quiet. I can't continue telling the story…"
"If I burst your little bubble with facts? Yeah, I know." The Proprietor grinned wickedly, leaning on the counter of his shooting gallery. "But buddy, I gave them the guns, I think I should tell the story."
"Stop that!" The Balladeer spun around, slamming his hands onto the counter, face to face with The Proprietor. "You don't get to tell the story! Nobody wants to hear your version of the story!"
The Proprietor's grin did not falter. "You're cute."
"Stop that…" The Balladeer muttered, looking away, a light blush on his face, "It's not funny."
"Who said I was joking?"
"Let me tell the story, okay?"
"Alright…. But you know that everything Booth's saying is true, right? About Lincoln, that is."
The Balladeer studied The Proprietor for a brief moment; taking in the sharp features of the man's face, the handsome darkness of his hair… No! Those were the kind of thoughts that punched holes in the easy logic that The Balladeer had created for himself. If he gave in to those thoughts, he would have to… Well, he'd have to let the other man sing! Or something along those lines…
On the other hand, The Proprietor was free to think thoughts as he wished. And oh, he did think those things. He imagined himself and his wonderful/deplorable partner/nemesis making love together right there against the counter. He ran his fingers over the barrels of one of the guns. Which one, he could never keep track. Czolgosz used the Iver-Johnson… Whatever anyone else shot with was always getting messed up.
Why did it matter? He only supplied the guns, he didn't shoot them. That was their job. Not his. His job was to be there for them. He worked tirelessly for 'the cause'. And he enjoyed it. He enjoyed watching these driven, ambitious, and occasionally insane men and women strive for goals that they had no hope of achieving.
But that didn't really matter either. They had the right to strive for the impossible. They had the right to be different.
"You're looking at me weird again…" The Balladeer said flatly, shaking The Proprietor out of his thoughts.
The Proprietor cocked his eyebrow, "Was I? Must be 'cause I can't get my mind off you."
"You could if you tried."
"What if I'm not trying?"
"Well… Start trying!"
"What if I don't want to?"
"Look, I haven't got time for this. I have a job to do."
The Proprietor stepped out from behind his counter, shutting the lights off. The dim neon flickered before leaving the pair in the perpetual twilight of limbo. "He can wait."
The Balladeer looked up, his eyes expressing a mixture of desire and despair. "But… He needs me…"
"I need you."
"But he… He's just going to be forgotten…"
The Proprietor smirked, running his hands through The Balladeer's soft blonde hair. "No he won't. You've done a pretty good job of making sure that all the world knows your dumb story about how he wanted fame and fortune. Nobody's going to forget your stupid explanations. Now, kiss me."
"Alright." The Balladeer stood on tiptoe, his lips meeting those of the man who he could never quite understand. It was a calm, warm kiss that lasted only moments before he stepped back. "How does this affect the history books?"
"I don't know." The Proprietor's eyes flashed deviously. "Let's do this and find out."