Rant du jour: co-dependent Trixie.
Yes, Trixie was sometimes jealous when Jim's attention was focused on other girls. But that doesn't mean her entire life revolves around gaining Jim's affections. If he started dating someone else, I'm sure she would be upset at first, but sometimes in fic she becomes like freakin' Bella Swann in the Twilight Saga when Edward left her.
Trixie is stronger than that: she's not going to waste away or sob herself to sleep every night because Jim has another girl. And the fact that people treat her protracted grief over Jim's romantic life as part of a normal teenager's angst is weird. Being upset that your crush doesn't like you back? Normal? Entering an extended interval of despair because your crush doesn't care for you in a romantic sense? Unhealthy and obsessive.
With that said, on with the story.
Dawn's light was brightening the eastern corners of the sky as Mart Belden strode across the rolling plains on the outskirts of the Wheeler's game preserve. A few moments had escaped since half-past five o'clock, and the marmalade orange color that preceded the sun's ascent was slowly overtaking the receding night. The early morning fog was thick, obscuring most surroundings more than ten feet away. Faint light strained to filter through the mist, which would soon be dispersed by the sun's warmth. The air carried a brisk chill, a prelude to a rare cool and breezy day rather than the usual muggy Westchester summer weather.
Mart continued to his destination- a shadowy cluster of trees nearby Louis Road, the dead end of which had been reclaimed by nature and was now overrun with brush and climbing vines hanging from tree limbs. Overgrown hedges and shrubbery ascertained that any vantage point from the dirt road to the shady grove was steadfastly hindered.
As he approached, the morning mist rendered the grove of trees gloomy and somewhat eerie against the semi-darkness, and Mart was reminded that he had abandoned the traveled path sometime ago in his sojourn to this location. Leaving the common road didn't bother him as much as it perhaps should have; in the short amount of time since he and Dan had admitted their affections for one another, he found that he almost enjoyed withdrawing from what others thought to be customary.
Besides, he was eager to explore the alternate path that was rapidly presenting itself. Mart had never considered himself an iconoclast, but now he was beginning to question the pertinence of convention. Why was tradition something people bothered with if it was all in the past, anyhow?
Calls from waking birds distracted Mart from his musings, and he looked about, bright blue eyes scanning the landscape close at hand; he was almost there. A dozen more yards into escalating chaparral, and he was hurrying up the earth's brief incline to the murky copse, where he found that his arrival had been anticipated.
"There you are. I've been waiting."
The low voice brought Mart's attention to the figure in the shadows.
Dan was stretched out on the ground, his body arranged intentionally to capture Mart's notice, his form on display for Mart's eyes to travel over. One of his legs lay flat while the other was bent at the knee, foot resting on the ground. His hands were tucked behind his head, elbows outward; position of his arms was very deliberate, causing the hem of his black shirt to rise, displaying a good inch of trim lower abs.
The sight brought Mart's throat to tighten, among other things.
A smile, small but wicked, upturned Dan's lips, and a gleam of satisfaction appeared in his eyes as he discerned the effect his strategic position had on Mart. "Going to take another picture, Belden?"
Wasting no time, Mart joined Dan on to the ground, close to him, but not in physical contact. He was aware at this point that Dan didn't seem to enjoy the sensation of touch when he himself did not initiate the gesture.
"I heard you're going to the beach." Dan reached out and lightly traced Mart's chest through the fabric of his shirt, causing his skin to tingle in excitement. "That seems like fun."
Distracted by Dan's touches, wondering if it was a sign of desire on the other teen's part, Mart concentrated on speaking. "Not fun enough to make you want to go with us, I guess," he managed roughly.
Dan appeared amused, but Mart couldn't tell if it was from his reaction or his reply. "It's too risky. Someone might notice us."
A few seconds passed in silence; Mart was sobered by this reminder that their relationship was taboo, no matter how enjoyable it was to him.
"I think you should make a move on Diana while you're there," Dan said conversationally.
Startled, Mart abruptly pulled back from Dan, looking at him in confusion. "What?" He wasn't sure he'd heard Dan correctly.
"The beach is a perfect setting for a romance between a boy and a girl," Dan informed him matter-of-factly. "You should take a few moments alone with Diana, and tell her your feelings. Flatter her. Let her know what she means to you."
"I- but what- so you . . . I mean- " Mart was attempting and failing to follow Dan's train of thought. "But Dan, what about us?"
"What about us, indeed." Dan hoisted himself off the ground, sitting up.
"So, you and I . . ." Mart struggled to verbalize his thoughts. "Our relationship has no significance?"
"Oh, our relationship has plenty of significance," Dan said darkly. "If we were found out, it would destroy us both. That's why you might as well start getting close to Diana now. It's a great cover: no one suspects that there's anything between us right now, and you and Diana would probably divert speculation if anyone did notice us."
Mart relaxed, but he was still conflicted over Dan's words. Self-preservation didn't seem right if it involved deceiving someone else. He didn't want to hurt Diana, but his insistence on honor and truth had the potential to backfire on both him and Dan.
"I don't want to lie to her," Mart replied at last.
"You wouldn't be lying to her," Dan returned, completely self-assured. "You're attracted to her. I've seen the way you look at her, and I don't blame you. She's beautiful, even if she's a bit too glamorous and high maintenance for me to ever date."
Mart hesitated. "It just feels wrong to start a committed relationship with her when I'm already committed to you."
Slight surprise crossed Dan's face. "I never asked you to be committed to me, Mart."
Pausing in puzzlement, Mart stared at him. "What?"
Dan resumed his usual understated sangfroid. "Whatever it is between you and me, it's not going to last forever. Our relationship, if you want to call it that, is only temporary. It might end next week. It could end next summer. But regardless, it's going to end sometime. So you might as well start looking at girls again now, Mart. Diana can be your fallback, kept in reserve for when we inevitably call it quits. We aren't going to get to ride off into the sunset together, like a het couple would in a romantic ending to a movie. There are no happy endings for people like us." A note of bitterness surfaced in his voice. "Bigots have made sure of that." For a moment, he gazed off into the distance that was gradually growing lighter, and then his eyes returned to Mart. "I refuse to lie to you about this, Mart. I won't be responsible for holding you back from your future. I don't want to convince you that we have much time time together, because we don't. You can't grow into an adult thinking that it's okay for you to build your life around another guy instead of a girl. As far as society is concerned, it's not."
Stunned into silence, Mart gazed at Dan with mounting dismay. Shaking his head without speaking, he turned from the other, his eyes traveling along the brightening landscape. He gasped, startled, as a pair of eyes, pale and enormous, emerged from the gloom. However, he recovered quickly, recognizing the fading, bespectacled eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg that were painted on an old advertising billboard that loomed above Louis Road. When the road was in the process of being constructed, it was expected to be a long, winding thoroughfare for the use of passing motorists. But when the project was deserted for a simpler route, the billboard and its eyes were similarly forsaken by the wild wag of an oculist who had initially placed them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness, or forgot them and moved away.
Thus, the eyes remained: they looked out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which passed over a nonexistent nose. Blue and gigantic – their irises are one yard high, the eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days under sun and rain, brooded over the empty road.
"Just goes to show you," Dan said quietly. "Even when you think no one's watching, someone is."
Mart sighed, melancholia washing over him. "I want . . ." he couldn't even finish the sentence due to his disconsolation at his shattered hopes, but both he and Dan were aware of the unspoken words that hung between them.
"I know." Dan's voice was soft and not unkind. "But Mart, what we want and what actually happens rarely coincide in life."
There was nothing left to say: the silence roared, bellowing for the sustenance of words to fill the vast emptiness, but neither of them spoke.
And then, Dan leaned forward, kissing him so gently that Mart would later wonder if he'd just imagined it. It was Mart who broke the kiss, pulling back to look into Dan's eyes. Though the gaze was unfathomable, dark circles had formed beneath his eyes, the half-moons purple as bruises in a pale and drawn face: the doubtless results of many sleepless nights.
Then Dan rose, leaving Mart behind.
Mart watched him walk down the hill, and as the sun climbed higher in the sky, his spirits plunged.
A/N: Just to let any readers know, I'm regulated this story to the back burner. I'm not abandoning this fic; it's just not going to be a priority. There's been a general lack of interest for it, so I don't really think that updates will be missed, anyhow. But if anyone has any ideas for this fic, let me know.
As always, con crit is welcomed, but flames for slash will be used to fight fire with fire.