Title: Watching Him 11/11
Summary: She sees everything, she's watching him fall.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit made and no harm intended.
AU follows storyline of movie somewhat.
"Really now, Doc, I don't need to lie down all day," Beth adjusted the knot on her cloth sling and sighed when it slid into place. "I'm fine, I swear."
Doc frowned. "Stubborn mule is what ya are, girlie. You take it easy on that arm, ya hear me?"
Beth sighed once more and nodded. "You worry too much, you an' Eddie both."
"Ev'ryone needs somebody naggin' their ass. Like how ya nag after Billy."
She looked away, her face warm. "Somebody has to. He can hardly look after himself as it is."
"Lovin' him ain't no easy task, girlie. Hope you're up t' it."
Beth straightened her back, leveling a glare at the older man. "I am. I don't give up when things get hard and...And my l-loving h-..." she trailed off, the angry voices echoing from down the hall distracting her.
Doc hid a grin and gathered his large black bag of supplies, tucking it under one arm. Beth slipped off the cot and edged closer to the doorway, straining her ears.
"...Don't y' give me that fuckin' look," Billy's voice was bitingly cold. "If I want y' fuckin' advice, I'll ask for it."
"Ya think for one second I'm gonna stand by an' watch ya fuck this all up? No way am I lettin' ya hurt her too. Not a chance."
"Eddie, back the fuck off!" Billy snarled, his furious words followed by a crash, metal scraping along the worn linoleum. "She's mine; ya can't keep her from me!"
Beth inhaled sharply, her stomach twisting up hard.
Doc sighed behind her. "Lord, does that boy ever got his daddy's temper."
"She's gonna get hurt! She could get nabbed by one o' the others! Fuck, Billy, even you might be the one t' hurt her, an' I swear, if y' ever, EVER, lay a fuckin' hand on her in anger, so help you, boy."
"Get the fuck outta my way!"
Beth swallowed over the lump in her throat and hurried out of the room, her arm tucked close to her chest. She walked into the room, passing by Eddie.
The two men stood a few feet apart, each red-faced with anger, fists clenched. Beth stood in front of Billy, her hand on his chest. "Billy...Billy, stop," she pleaded. "No more fighting."
He glared at Eddie before looking down at her. The fury ebbed in his eyes, his lips quirking upwards. "S' fine, everythin's ok, right Eddie?"
"Yeah..." Eddie grunted, unclenching his fists.
Beth pressed against Billy, her hand moving up to cup his cheek. "You need to lie down, Billy, you're still recovering."
He leaned into the touch, his eyes half open. "Nah," he murmured. "M' fine, Doc's got me on painkillers. M' all stitched up."
"Still, I don't want you gettin' worse."
"She's right, need t' get your stubborn ass back home an' restin'," Doc said as he shuffled into the room. "Eds, make sure he goes t' the Roses an' stays put a few days."
Eddie nodded once, a muscle in his jaw flexing. "Yessir, I will."
Billy slipped his arm around Beth, holding her closer. "I don't wanna go t' the Roses, m' goin' wit' her."
"Y' heard me," Billy snapped. "Jus' fuckin' do it!"
Beth touched his cheek again, diverting his attention. "It's ok, you come back with me," she said, stroking her thumb along his jaw, "Nothin' to be angry about."
Doc exchanged curious glances with Eddie. "Unreal," Eddie muttered. "I'll explain t' ya in the car."
"Never thought I'd see that, an' I've seen some shit in my time," Doc shook his head, chuckling as he left the room.
A tense silence filled the air around them, thick and chokingly heavy. Beth cleared her throat. "Eddie...Take us to my apartment, please? I need to lie down an' these cots aren't all that comfy."
"Sure, Bethie," he said, giving Billy another of his looks before he turned away and headed out of the room.
Beth stood on her tiptoes, pressing a light kiss to Billy's cheek. "Don't be yelling like that," she whispered, "Nothing to get upset over, so come with me an' no more fighting."
He nodded reluctantly. "Bethie..."
"No, no fightin' with Eddie. He loves you, Billy, he's worried about you."
Billy leaned against her as they walked, his arm clutched possessively around her. "I know...better than m' own piece of shit father."
"Eddie told me that Bones sold Mr. Hume the guns."
"Father of the fuckin' year," Billy sighed, "Won't miss his fat ass any time soon."
Beth looked down at the filthy floor, holding back a shudder. Eddie had filled her in on all the details over the course of a day. She said a silent prayer for Bones, knowing that he deserved whatever was waiting for him. "He was burned with the others?"
She shivered. "Billy..."
"I ain't gonna regret it," he said, staring straight ahead, his words almost too casual. "Not after me an' Joe gettin' shit since we was babies."
Beth nodded, her eyes tracking the splatters of blood that led them, trail-like to the front door. She paused in the doorway, looking back at the hallway. She sighed, her arm twanging with pain. "I hope I never see this place again."
She fussed over him until she was satisfied that he was comfortable in her bed. Beth tugged the blankets up, covering Billy to his waist. "There," she said. "Good?"
Billy nodded and reached for her, his eyes hazy from the painkillers. "Bethie..." he said, stroking her hair, his fingers slipping through the strands.
"I'm gonna be out in the living room," she pressed a kiss to his lips. "I'm comin' back in a few minutes. I need to talk to Eddie first."
"Don' go t' far," he mumbled sleepily.
"I'm right here if you need me, Billy," she promised. "Sleep now."
"Mhm," he yawned a little and let his hand drop down to the blankets, already half asleep.
Beth sighed and smoothed her hand over his scalp. She walked out of the room, closing the door part of the way behind her. Eddie sat on the couch, stroking his short gray beard thoughtfully.
"Do you want a drink, Eddie? I have some beer if you want or…well I don't keep hard liquor here…"
"A beer would be real nice, Bethie," he nodded.
She handed the cold bottle to him. "G' on, sit down," he said, uncapping it and then took a long sip.
Beth sat on the chair, fidgeting with her cloth sling. "Eddie, I…I heard you an' Billy earlier, the fight you were having."
Eddie winced. "Aw shit, I'm sorry. Never meant for ya t' hear all that."
"Please…don't rile him like that. Billy needs you more than ever, Eddie."
Eddie sat back on the couch, his eyes everywhere but on her. "Look, I know ya think Billy's…worth tryin' for, but the truth is that he's damned dangerous. Y' know the stuff he's done, y' see the shit they do, an' here ya are, playin' nursemaid?"
"I don't need or want a lecture," Beth rubbed her forehead with her good hand. "I know what I'm doing."
Eddie grunted and took another long swallow of beer. "Ya don't, Bethie, you're so innocent, y' got no clue. He ain't gonna change. He's always gonna be a Darley."
"I'm not a fucking moron," she snapped. "You think for one second that I don't know who he is? I see him; I see everything that no one else takes a moment to see! And he may be a Darley, but that does not make him unworthy!"
"And the next time he kills someone?"
Beth pressed her lips tightly together, tears gleaming in her eyes. "Eddie…"
He licked his lips and shook his head slowly. "Yeah," he whispered. "Billy kills people, Beth. Not every day, but he has an' he will again. This is his nature; there ain't no changin' the boy's nature. He can try an' be good for ya, but y' ain't got nothin' but heartbreak waitin' for ya in the end."
"Do you not want him to be happy?" Beth choked out, a tear spilling down her cheek.
Eddie set the bottle on the table. "Beth, girlie, I only wanna see good things for ya both but y' ain't bein' realistic. Y' can't fix what's wrong with him."
Beth pulled her knees up to her chest, shaking. "I…Eddie, I can't help how I feel," she wiped at her eyes awkwardly. "He…He needs me an' I…think I…"
He fumbled with the handkerchief in his pocket, offering it to her. "Bethie, don't cry."
"I…Sometimes I wish he never saw me," she clutched the fabric, dabbing it at her wet cheeks, the tears gleaming in the dark room. "Wish he was like the others, ignore me, don't see me, but he did, he saw and…and I liked the fact that he saw me. He didn't ignore me, I wasn't invisible."
Eddie rubbed his forehead tiredly. "What're ya gonna do when he gets shot up someday?"
"Grieve," she whispered, more tears falling. "Miss him, miss everything that he was and wasn't."
He looked to her, his lips curving in a sad smile. "Bethie, you love him, don't ya?"
Beth made a soft sound in her throat. "I…I do. Don't ask me why, just accept that I do," she pressed her hand to her mouth, struggling to stay calm.
"If he ever hurts ya…"
"He won't. I don't think he could," Beth wiped her cheeks gently. "Eddie…when I slapped him in the chapel, he could've hit me, he could've hurt me so badly, but he didn't. All his life, someone's been hurtin' him. He needs this, more than he could ever admit."
Eddie let out a long suffering sigh. "I know someday this is gonna go bad but…"
"Please, I know you're only tryin' to protect me, but I want this, I need this chance. Billy has to see that he can be happy."
Eddie nodded. He stood up and leaned down, hugging her. "I know…I know…"
She rested against him, sniffling. "Do you think he could ever feel the same?"
"I dunno, Bethie. Maybe he could."
She stood up as well. "I'm sorry, I got your handkerchief all wet," she let out a tiny, damp laugh.
"Who gives a shit? I got more o' them."
Beth closed her eyes. "Eddie…Thank you for understanding."
"S' what I'm here for," he murmured, hugging her closer. "I got them ashes for ya. Still don't understand why ya want them."
"They need a proper service. It's important to me."
He snorted. "Yeah, if y' say so."
"I do say so," she whispered before yawning. "I'm sorry, Eddie but I'm beat."
"S' fine," he said. "Y' go lie down."
Beth hugged him with one arm. "I'll see you in the morning."
He nodded and let go of her. He glanced at the door to the bedroom, the smallest of frowns flitting across his face. Eddie held back a sigh and headed out, his boots clomping out into the hall.
Beth locked the door behind him, her heart still beating fast. "I...I do love him," she whispered, slightly in awe. "God...I do."
With her stomach churning uneasily, Beth walked into the bedroom. Billy lay on the bed, curled onto his side, his hands fisted in her sheets. She stripped her clothes off carefully and slipped under the covers beside him.
Billy mumbled in his sleep, reaching for her. She curled up to him, tucking her head under his chin. She placed her hand on his chest, feeling his heart beat. Beth smiled, letting herself fall asleep within moments.
Billy tugged at his leather coat a few weeks later, fidgeting with the cigarette clamped between two fingers. He took a long drag on the smoke and exhaled, looking down at the ground. Beth stood next to him, her eyes on the metal boxes on the ground before them.
She nodded to Eddie, her hand sliding down Billy's arm to grip his fingers. He curled his fingers with hers, rubbing his thumb along her knuckles, taking the comfort she offered him.
Eddie put the metal box off to the side, set aside from the others. "S' Joe's," he said, his voice rough and worn. "I made sure."
Beth smiled faintly. She held on to Billy, listening to the wind blow around them, her hair fluttering in the gusts. Eddie laid each box out, one for Joe, one for Heco, for Jamie, and lastly, one for Bones.
Billy dropped his cigarette to the ground, stubbing it out with one boot. He gripped Beth's hand tighter, his eyes shaded by his sunglasses. Beth looked to the others, nodding to each of them.
Bodie cleared his throat. "Our boys," he said, his voice faltering.
Each looked uneasy with that moment, their discomfort visible. Bodie started again, his voice catching. "We put our boys t' rest, an' 'member them. We won't forget none of y'all."
The men nodded, almost in unison. They passed by Billy and Beth, exchanging a moment of silence, of respect. As each filed past them, Beth kept a close eye on Billy, reading everything that he wasn't allowing the others to see.
Eddie squeezed Billy's shoulder, resting their foreheads together. "S' all gonna be ok someday. We done right by Joe, an' the boys," he said.
Billy made a sound in his throat, his face crumpling for only a split second. He nodded, inhaling deeply. "Yeah..."
"Be good t' her," Eddie whispered. "Ain't nobody like her."
Billy moved away from him, swallowing rapidly. Eddie took the silent move and backed off, leaving the two of them near the boxes. Beth closed her eyes, listening to the sound of Billy's breathing, and of her own. She squeezed Billy's hand gently.
"Billy, are you alright?"
He tugged his sunglasses off, his eyes red-rimmed. "Think I will be."
"Thank you, for agreeing to this, for not resistin'." She rested against Billy, nestled in his arms.
"We never did this shit 'fore now, but I think...I think it feels ok, y' know, t' do this." He swallowed again. "It hurts so fuckin' much. I miss him..."
Beth touched his shoulder with her hand. "I miss him too. You don't forget, but you learn to live. You don't have to live like your father, you can be more. Joe could have been so much more. You have to want it, Billy."
He nodded, looking at the ground. "Beth...I...I uh..."
She kissed his neck and moved his hand to rest over hers, their fingers brushing over her stomach. He closed his eyes and brought his head down to rest against hers. "I...I love ya, Bethie," he said, his voice barely above a whisper.
Beth tilted her head and brushed a kiss over his lips. Billy pressed her closer to him, his hands shaking. "I can't help it...I jus' do. Y' make me feel good, lovin' you feels good."
She smiled, cupping his cheek. "That's how love's supposed to feel, Billy."
He made another soft sound and held tightly to her, his hands stroking her stomach. She closed her eyes and relaxed in his arms, letting the love reassure him.
Thank you to everyone who's read and/or reviewed this story. Your support is very much appreciated.
Billy and Beth's story will be continued eventually in a series of ficlets, albeit ones with less angst and more humor :) stay tuned for the continuations to follow.