Disclaimer: Please don't sue. I don't own *insert fandom name from above*... All I own is an overactive imagination.
Summary: DB/MM slash fic. Bill might be slow on the uptake but he's good on the follow through.
Pairing(s): Dollar Bill/Mothman
Word Count: 2,595
A/N: This didn't turn out exactly how I'd wanted it to, but *shrugs, here it is.
Story note: One shot companion piece to Ritual.
By: Lucifer Rosemaunt
Of all the Minutemen, Bill had to admit that he was closest to Byron. Hollis was a good friend, honest and so obviously one of the good guys; they got along swimmingly, though Nite Owl did have a tendency to talk about Sally for long durations if he wasn't distracted with sports or current events. Nelly was nice, but he spent most of his time with Hooded Justice, a man who Bill really couldn't figure out. Sally was a doll, a real sweetheart. Ursula didn't say much, but she was always ready with an almost sarcastic though absolutely truthful remark. The Comedian was young and Bill could almost remember being that brash sometimes. Sometimes. But Byron, Bill found himself seeking his company more often than not in any and all situations.
Byron had been quiet and their first shared conversation had been a rather brief welcome after he'd been accepted into the Minutemen. Bill hardly believed that someone so shy could be a costumed hero, that the Mothman who was in the newspapers had actually been the man in front of him. The stutter, in his opinion, was absolutely endearing, a nice offset when he later realized just how different Mothman was when he was patrolling, how well he fought, or how accurate he could shoot. There had been something about him from the very beginning when he'd stood before the Minutemen and asked to join them that drew Bill's attention. He'd wanted to blame the wings, but he knew it was something else; maybe it had been the tentative smile that had been directed at him.
He'd been partnered with Nite Owl that first week. It had definitely been different than guarding banks, but he knew protecting the streets was where he wanted to be. It was what he was supposed to be doing. Early on in the week, they'd been lucky to happen upon Mothman and Silhouette having some difficulty handling some gangsters. They entered the fray, and he just barely managed to stop a lead pipe from connecting with Byron's skull when his back had been turned. They'd won that battle and both Silhouette and Mothman had insisted that they'd had everything under control. Hollis nodded his agreement, but Bill would have argued against that. Mothman had been out of breath and even his wings had seemed to droop a bit.
After that event, Bill found that he became unreasonably nervous at the mere thought of Byron patrolling by himself or rather, with anyone other than him. It wasn't as though they'd known each other very well and he knew that the Minutemen had managed well enough without him, but he just couldn't suppress the emotion. It wasn't as though he didn't trust the others because he would gladly partner with them; it was just that he trusted himself a little more. Something about Byron made Bill want to protect him, and he knew that he was the best person for the job. He'd even asked Nelly that he be partnered with Mothman after the first few days. It had also been the perfect opportunity to try and get to know him better, to understand how someone who seemed meek could wear a moth costume and fight crime.
Byron, he found, didn't talk much during patrols, so Bill had tried to offset the quiet by sharing more about himself. He didn't mind speaking after all and figured that at some point, Byron would reciprocate. So, he'd found himself talking about everything and anything, and when he was certain Byron had stopped listening, he would make a comment or ask a question that not only proved he'd been listening, but that he was even a little interested.
Then, after what seemed like weeks, Byron started to open up to him, too. Bill learned quite a few personal things and figured they'd only get closer with time. Or at least, he'd thought that until their first poker night.
Byron had asked him for post-patrol drinks and Bill had been so surprised that he hadn't known what to say at first. He'd been so pleased at the thought of spending more time with him. Mentioning it to Hollis in passing, Nelly had overheard, declaring it a brilliant idea and a team building type of exercise, a way to unwind after a tough night. Bill could only smile and agree; he hadn't been able to explain why he felt disappointment at the idea that the night was going to be spent as a team. He ignored that emotion and only tried to look forward to spending time with his friends.
Even though he'd lost rather horribly, he'd had a great time. To his disappointment, Byron had drowned himself in liquor and hadn't said another word to him that evening, which had been a sharp contrast to the almost excited way he'd been speaking when they'd been patrolling. Bill had only written it off as the group being too loud and boisterous to give Byron a chance to speak. At least, that had been what he hoped.
As the poker game was ending and it became increasingly obvious that Byron wouldn't be able to walk himself home, Bill had volunteered. Byron slurred a 'no thanks' before almost falling out of his barstool. Getting directions from Nelly, he slung Byron's arm over his shoulder and headed out. Byron was still cognizant – how, after all that alcohol, Bill hadn't been certain, but it did give him an idea of how Byron spent his nights if he was able to drink that much. It had been at that moment Bill decided to help Byron stop drinking.
Bringing him home hadn't been that difficult once they'd figured out Byron hadn't been able to walk; after several encounters with the floor, Bill gave Byron his choice of how to be carried, fireman or bridal style. Byron had squinted up at him from the floor with a look of utter disdain at the suggestion before grinning and asking for a piggy back ride. Not seeing the harm, Bill had crouched down a bit, almost toppling over when Byron practically tackled him. He could've done without the kicks to his side, but Byron settled down rather quickly after that, his energy finally depleted. Byron wrapped his arms around his neck and nuzzled the side of his head before resting his head on his shoulder.
"You're a good guy, Bill," Byron had murmured, and as much as he hated the smell of alcohol, his hot breath had made Bill flush. He'd wanted him to say something else just to feel it again. As it were, Bill became aware of just how warm Byron was against his back. His voice was all too clear in Bill's head, all honesty and vulnerable, like Byron hadn't thought people could be good anymore.
He'd realized then that he wanted to do more than just protect Byron. It was just a fleeting thought, but he'd never thought of another man like that before in his life. Instead of panicking as he knew he should have, it sort of clicked into place. He didn't think of Hollis or Nelly half as much as he thought of Byron on a daily basis. He didn't worry about them or need them to be his partner – because even on nights when they necessarily had to patrol with others, Bill only considered it temporary. Mothman was Dollar Bill's partner.
He was always watching Byron even when it was unnecessary. He knew that Byron only really stuttered when he was nervous. He knew that before Mothman took flight, he'd take a deep breath and grin to himself – Bill always thought that he looked so unbelievably alive during those moments. He was almost tempted to ask him if those wings could handle his weight as well. He knew that when Byron wasn't thinking about it, he would often fiddle with the buckles on his legs or the ones on his arms. He knew that Byron listened to him no matter what he was saying, and he'd remember everything he'd ever said. They got along well and all it took was a look and a hand on his shoulder to know how they were going to approach a criminal. He was also pretty certain that Byron knew more about him than any of the other Minutemen, and he now almost hoped that he knew Byron better than the others.
In Byron's apartment, Bill had hesitated as Byron had slurred the directions to the bedroom, but a reminder of Byron's statement that he was a good guy spurred him onward. He was, and it wasn't as though he was going to take advantage of his friend even when said friend dragged him down onto the bed with his legs still wrapped around his waist. Bill had given a shaky laugh before carefully extracting himself from Byron's grasp. Byron had grabbed the nearest pillow and wrapped himself around it, nuzzling it as he had done to Bill's neck. His hair was mussed and his shirt bunched, riding up a bit to reveal his stomach. Bill had only been able to stare for long moments before having the presence of mind to take off Byron's shoes before leaving. Friends weren't supposed to watch friends while they slept.
He'd just needed time to think. However, after that night, Byron had started to act strangely; he stopped speaking entirely and began locking himself in his office after patrols. Bill knew what that last part meant even while he hoped the contrary, but some mornings, as Bill headed towards his office, he'd note that Byron would be in his, obviously fighting with a hangover. He could only assume Byron hadn't gone home.
Bill needed a plan to 1) stop Byron from drinking and 2) see if it had been the alcohol he himself had consumed that night that had rationalized that errant thought he'd had of Byron. Convincing his partner to go to his office after a patrol under the guise of giving him first aid for some few minor scraps Byron had gotten, Bill tried to categorize everything about him and realized that his rationalization that night had been right, and he suddenly didn't know what to say. Byron had left shortly after Bill finished bandaging him, and Bill had only been able to sit in his office wondering what the hell he was going to do now.
It basically came down to two choices, ignore the feeling or do something about it. When had Bill ever tried to ignore a feeling though? Feelings had told him to do something more with his life. It had told him to move from Kansas and become a crime fighter. It had led him to the Minutemen and more importantly, it had led him to Byron. He couldn't ignore something that had been there since they'd first met.
Resolved, Bill once again set out to lure Byron to his office after patrols. It was a little tricky, but Byron was usually so exhausted that he didn't' have the strength to argue. It had been weeks already and Bill hadn't found the right time to say anything. He didn't know if he was simply biding his time or just afraid to do anything. After all, what did one do to approach a male friend? Honesty seemed to be the only answer. So, tonight he'd decided would be the night to tell Byron that he was attracted to him. He'd started off rather poorly, rambling about football, but it wasn't as though Byron was listening. That was easy to tell; Byron was sitting on the couch, staring blankly at the coffee table that he sat upon. Bill was more than a little grateful though since it gave him time to brace himself before starting.
"Byron?" He noticed the wistful smile on his face and wondered what he was thinking about. "Byron?" He tried again, placing his hand on Byron's. Byron jerked away from him; Bill flinched at the reaction. Maybe tonight was a bad idea. Hiding his reaction quickly, he asked, "Are you alright?"
"I'm sorry." Byron shifted on the couch, moving his legs from under him so that he could sit properly. He did look rather repentant.
"No," Bill quickly replied, "It's me who's sorry. It's been a long night and here I am talking your ears off. You probably want to head home already, right?"
Byron sighed and hauled himself onto his feet with a groan. Bill had almost hoped that Byron would have disagreed.
"Yeah. Home." Byron headed towards the door slowly. "Good night, Bill."
Wondering when he'd become a coward, Bill only managed to call out when Byron had been at his door, "Byron."
He turned slightly, his hand on the doorknob. "Yeah?"
Bill opened his mouth to say, 'stay' or something to the same effect, but what came out was, "Are you sure you're alright?"
"I think I can make it home without help. I'm not some damsel to rescue," Byron joked. The door closed quietly behind him and Bill slumped forward, hiding his face in his hands. Tomorrow. He would do it tomorrow.
That train of thought died when he heard Byron's door open and close. He knew what that meant; Byron was going to spend the rest of the night drinking. Without stopping to think about what he was going to do, Bill stood up, strode to Byron's office, and without even knocking, entered. Byron was reaching across the bar, his hand on the neck of some bottle. Bill didn't even bother to look at what poison Byron had chosen tonight.
"What are you…?" Byron asked.
Bill closed the distance between them. He grabbed Byron's wrist before taking the bottle with his other hand to set it down on the counter. "I don't like you drinking."
"It's just to help me sleep," Byron scowled at him, before glancing down pointedly at the hand that was still holding his wrist.
At his glance, Bill looked at his own hand as though he hadn't realized he was still holding him. He didn't let go though. "I," he sighed, "I was just hoping that maybe I could walk you home."
"You're a good guy, Bill," Byron somehow said without mocking, "but I'll be fine."
Those words only served to spur him onward. He stood up a little straighter and just said it aloud. "Byron. I like you."
"Well," he smiled a little bitterly, "I like you too, but I would appreciate my hand back."
Bill frowned. He stepped forward so that he was clearly in Byron's personal space.
Byron pressed back against the bar, surprise evident. "B-bill?"
"While I do hope you like me too," Bill pressed so that they were touching, their legs and hips now pressed together. "I have to confess I may have less than good intentions."
Bill leaned the small bit forward and kissed Byron on the lips. He had to admit that he hesitated a bit, because while he'd wondered what kissing Byron would be like, he'd never kissed another man before. Byron's lips were full and pliant beneath his own, easily accepting the pressure before pressing back.
Bill pulled slightly away, grinning. Byron had kissed back.
They stood like that long enough that Bill was beginning to wonder if he'd simply imagined Byron returning the kiss.
Still a little wide-eyed and blushing, Byron licked his lips and with the exact tentative smile as when Bill had first seen him in person, said, "I-I think I m-may need help walking home."
A/N: Don't forget to R/R (Read and Review)!
Story Note: I barely go into what internal struggle Bill might've had with suddenly liking a guy. I figure, Bill's so honest with everyone including himself that he would think it stupid to try to deny what he so obviously feels. At least, that's what I figure.