Title: Good for the Soul
A/N: Seriously don't own.
Now, Jacob Potter thought himself a religious and moral man. He had seen what alcohol could do to a man, his father, and refused to touch a drop of liquor.
Because he came from a rough background, he tried to be a better person.
His father had come out West, dragging his mother and him along for the ride, when he was five so that he, his father, could become a silver miner in Nevada and strike it rich. His father, Malcolm, told his mother it was so he could take better care of his family.
Somehow, though, the supposed better life turned out to be his father drinking away all their money and his mother washing and mending clothes for barely enough money to make ends meet.
When he turned six, his father first hit his mother, and he vowed to never end up like Malcolm Potter.
Eventually, the Nevada miners found a silver vein, and his father found a job. He was ten when the mine collapsed, killing his father and six other miners. The mining company gave his mother a little over $200 dollars.
Malcolm Potter hadn't been worth that much.
His mother had wept like the good little wife, like she hadn't been beaten almost every day for the past four years and been carrying the family on her shoulders. By that time, he had a little brother, Charles, who was almost seven.
He, his mother, and Charles had moved to Arizona because his mother had family there.
Determined to not end up a deadbeat like his father, he got a job and paid for his own schooling. When he finished twelfth grade, he applied for more schooling in Texas, and was accepted into a veterinarian college just outside Austin.
After completing his schooling, Jacob had returned to Arizona and wound up in a little town by the name of Bisbee.
The first time he'd ever met Dan Evans, the man had been buying cattle. He had a downtrodden look about him, as if everyone in the entire world had stomped and wiped their feet on him. His wife—Alice?—had been looking at other men.
He and Dan hadn't so much as exchanged a single glance.
Finally, the man and his wife and two children had climbed back in their wagon and driven away. He had returned to his office and gingerly cleaned his eyeglasses on the corner of his shirt.
Since then, he'd seen the rancher almost every time the other man had come into town, though they'd never talked.
Dan never really grew healthy in the desert air; his body never filled out with a rancher's muscle, and he never looked well rested. But Dan was a good man who treated his family right; Jacob could see that much.
After a month or so, Jacob finally wormed up the courage to talk to the other man. Dan had smiled and offered to buy Jacob a drink, and despite all his other instincts, he'd accepted. That night at the saloon was anything but a drunken blur. He remembered quite a lot.
He remembered that Dan Evans had a beautiful smile and a crinkling laugh.
He remembered the way Dan's hazel eyes had never left his.
He remembered the soft blush when Dan's hand had accidentally brushed his on the bar counter.
So yes, he remembered quite a lot from the bar. And then even more from the night after the bar.
The next night, he and Dan had eaten dinner together, talking softly about cattle and horses. After a few hours, when the café had emptied of all but them and they'd been forced to leave, they had stood on the boardwalk next to each other.
When Dan had turned to him, Jacob had done the unthinkable. He'd brushed the backs of his fingers along Dan's jaw. Dan had, in turn, smashed his lips to Jacob's. Under the pressure, he'd slumped back against the wall and gathered an armful of Dan to his chest.
For the next few months, Jacob and Dan had an affair full of quiet moments in the rooms above the salon. Those moments were full of hot kisses and even hotter touches. Jacob had never been able to understand why Alice was so dissatisfied with her and Dan's marriage; Dan was a wonderful, loving man.
Every time they met was a new adventure, and he rapidly found himself falling in love with Dan. It was around that time that Alice had found about the affair and approached him. She threatened him, telling him in no uncertain terms that Dan was hers, not Jacob. She used his love for Dan against him, threatening to make Dan's life harder than it already was.
It broke his heart.
Never one to burden any other with his own problems, he quietly ended the relationship with Dan to effectively end all problems that Alice might bring to the fore. When he had broken it off, Dan had given him a broken-hearted look but had said nothing. The other had simply nodded and let it go.
Thus, they had lost touch until that fateful day when Ben Wade rode into Bisbee. Dan had, instinctively, taken the wounded Pinkerton to Jacob to heal the old man shot in the stomach. Dan had looked at him with unguarded eyes so full of love that it had almost broken Jacob's heart to look away.
He had been eternally grateful to the fact that he had a wounded Pinkerton to tend to instead of having to think about Dan's hurt look. He turned all his attention to the man on his table and went about the process of trying to dig out the bullet and then sew the old man up.
When the older man decided to get up and join the posse in the saloon, Jacob had no choice but to follow. He came in after the other posse members had taken Wade in shackles. Jacob was thoroughly shocked when the Pinkerton announced that he was going with the posse, thus ensuring that Jacob was to go as well. Fear bolted into him, but was soothed when Dan threw himself in as well, sparing a glance Jacob's way.
It was out on the trail that Dan finally began to warm to him again. Late one night, the other man came and sat by him, offering Jacob silent comfort. But worry niggled at the back of Jacob's mind and forced questions out into the open.
"Why are you here Dan? You're married, got two kids, and a ranch. You should be at home." He felt Dan's rough hand grasp his own softly. "I came to look after you."
Tears bit ruthlessly at Jacob's eyes. "Oh God, I'm so sorry Dan," he whispered, turning his face to implore Dan to believe him. Dan smiled softly. "I know. It wasn't you who ended it. I blame Alice." Dan leaned in and brushed his lips over Jacob's, sending bliss into the other's heart.
For all the months of dreaming about the moment, what he mentally came up with was nowhere near as perfect as the real thing.
The kisses were long, sucking the very breath from Jacob's lungs.
The touches were hotter, practically scalding his heart.
And the love seemed to have intensified.
It was far better than Jacob imagined, but none of the touches or kisses compared to just holding Dan against his chest. Dan softly kissed his neck.
If he were to die right then, Jacob knew he'd die happy.
This is how it's going to end, Jacob thought, lying on the soft dirt with pain leeching out from the gunshot in his back. He looked up at Dan, trying to bit back the tears. He tried to find the right words; the courage to say "I love you" or "I wish you'd have been mine forever" or "I'm sorry."
Dan just smiled at him in a watery way and curled his fingers around Jacob's and tried not to look so alone. At the same time, Jacob tried to be there for him for all those times he hadn't, for all the times he wouldn't. "Did we get 'em?" Jacob asked, trying to ease the pain for Dan.
Despite how much he tried, he still saw the utter pain filter across Dan's expressive gaze. He still felt Dan's fingers tighten around his in an attempt to stave off the chill creeping into Jacob's limbs. "Yeah Doc, we did."
He forced his eyes to say he was sorry, to say that he loved him as he felt his heart stutter. Mentally, he screamed at Dan that he loved him.
It hurt to breathe, and his breath was watery and stunted. He barely saw the tears in Dan's eyes over the pain clouding his own. But he felt the love Dan emitted, and he slowly relaxed. Dan would be okay, he told himself, because Dan was a saint. And loving a saint was good for the soul.
Dan hadn't really been able to let Jacob's death go. After the other had ended their relationship, Alice had made a snide remark about him not going into town lately. The fact that his wife had ended his happiness when she was so unwilling to try to be happy with him had stung.
The capture of Ben Wade had offered him a chance to be happy again.
He had decided as soon as Jacob had been roped in to follow the other. That had, of course, led to their relationship returning to its previous state. It was impossible not to love Jacob Potter, and even harder when within arm's reach of the alluring man. He gingerly kissed Jacob.
That one kiss set his stomach on fire and turned his heartbeat into a stampede.
His hands roamed over Jacob's body, fueled by need and love.
Jacob melted under him just like always.
That was how he wanted to remember Jacob. Moaning softly and writhing under his touch, begging for everything wordlessly. He didn't want to remember Jacob bleeding out on the soft, dusty, Arizona ground. He didn't want to remember Jacob with that sad, listless look that sad Jacob knew he wasn't going to make it. He didn't want to remember the pleading look in Jacob's eyes, the one look that screamed of love and begged for forgiveness for Jacob being thrown into Fate's way.
Dan wanted to remember Jacob as he was when alive, full of life and love. He wanted to remember Jacob as he had been before Ben Wade rode into Bisbee, before being forced into this damned ride, before the bullet to the back.
Maybe that, he thought softly, was why he hadn't moved when Charlie Prince stormed toward him, guns pulled. Because dying was a way to be with Jacob again.
When those bullets slammed into his body, his breath left his body sharply. All he could think of was Jacob's smiling face, his soft blue eyes, his perfect body.
He decided that he was okay with dying simply because he loved Jacob and would be with his beloved again soon.
His breath shook out of his chest, and all he could think of was Jacob's name. He mentally apologized for everything, even as he stared up into his boy's face. His eyes looked toward the sky and he slowly relaxed. Everything would be okay, he told himself, because Jacob was a saint. And loving a saint was good for the soul, through life and beyond.