A/N: Wow, last chapter. Um...
Thank you to everyone who has ever reviewed this story. It's been an adventure.
It was overcast, a few droplets of rain trickling from the gray flurry of clouds, but here and there, beams of bright light cascaded down on the 2nd Mass. Dai and Maggie were talking nearby about arrangements for an upcoming scouting mission. Hal was sorting through armaments in the nearby weapons store. Ben and Jimmy sat on the downed tailgate of a pick-up truck, Jimmy talking Ben through how to properly reassemble one of the units many Smith&Wesson tactical rifles, as he cleaned his own hand gun. They would be returning to patrol in a couple days.
Ben had recently started asking questions about a lot of the different guns and armaments, more than usual, and he'd also increased his practice time on the make-shift shooting range not far outside of base camp. While he claimed he only wanted to be better prepared, Jimmy had a hunch the other boy had grander schemes forming, he just couldn't bring himself to ask about them yet.
"Okay…so this part slides in here…?" Ben murmured, trying to force the piece into place and Jimmy winced, smirking.
"No. Here, let me show you…again," he muttered, putting his hand over Ben's to help gently guide the metal cylinder into place, whispering instruction close to Ben's ear, "It should just glide easy until…you…hear a…click."
It locked into place with the telltale sound, Jimmy's hand lingering on Ben's, their cheeks warm with the heat growing between them.
"Got that?" Jimmy stammered question.
Ben tilted his head, their faces close, and he grinned crookedly, "I'm not sure…maybe you ought to show me again."
Hal sighed, loud and exasperated. He'd been surreptitiously watching the two boys for a few minutes and now it seemed he couldn't take anymore. He marched over to them, hands folded over his chest and shaking his head in annoyance. Maggie and Dai paused in their conversation to glance curiously at the other three.
"Would you two mind flirting somewhere else? Some of us actually have valid work to do around here," Hal demanded.
Jimmy hastily ripped his hand back from Ben's, returning abashedly to cleaning his gun, but Ben had the audacity to look aghast at the accusation.
"For your information, Hal," Ben sneered in return, his tone mock-serious, "Jimmy is just trying to teach me some very valuable things about the mechanics of this weapon, here. It's not our fault if you can't help but sexualize every interaction between us."
Hal's brow perked at that. Maggie covered a broad smile and Dai folded his arms over his chest, looking rather amused at that turn of conversation. Jimmy just buried his face in his hand and contemplated smacking Ben.
After a moment, Hal shook his head and seemed to let it drop, walking up alongside the truck bed as though to join Maggie and Dai. Ben returned to the rifle, not realizing when Hal had moved behind him until the older boy swatted a hand across the back of his head. Ben automatically tossed his rifle aside and tackled Hal, the two ending up on the ground playing-wrestling.
The teens watching laughed at the rambunctious display. It was obvious Ben was holding back, but not enough to let his older brother gain any upper hand against him. Maggie came to lean against the truck bed next to Jimmy, unraveling a packet of jerky from her pocket and pulling out a piece to chew on. Dai stood on the other side of the truck, smiling thinly and evidently assuming the role of referee, ready to step in if it seemed the play fight became more real.
"You're not going to help your boyfriend?" Maggie quietly, teasingly questioned Jimmy. His heart skipped several times from the comment at first, cheeks blistering with heat, then he smirked and shrugged.
"He's the idiot that opened his mouth," Jimmy remarked, and then noted, "Besides, kind of seems like a brother thing, right?"
Maggie nodded with a soft smile, offering over the packet of jerky. Jimmy selected a small piece, popped it in his mouth and chewed thoughtfully a moment.
"Mmm…that's good," he commented, glancing at the label on the packet, as Ben and Hal kicked up a couple clods of dirt nearby.
"Yeah, I found it in a convenience store up the interstate," Maggie agreed, offering him another piece then rolling the packet up again and shoving it once more into her pocket. She went to rejoin Dai in their conversation when the brothers seemed to lose interest in their fight, spotting the youngest Mason, Matt walking towards them.
Ben started back towards the rifle he'd been working on, and Hal greeted his youngest brother. But Matt didn't utter a response, pulling himself up on the truck tailgate and looking perturbed. Jimmy continued meticulously cleaning his handgun, glancing once at Matt, and smiling acknowledgement.
"What's wrong, Matt?" Ben asked, noticing his brother's long face but only earning a disgruntled glare for his concerns.
Ben and Hal exchanged a look. Matt had been having troubles with the other children of the 2nd Mass recently, mimicking their parents' opinions on his older brother and his father, and taking it out on him.
"What happened, Matt?" Hal pressed, "You get in another fight with the other kids?"
Matt sighed, shrugged. He propped his chin up in his hands, resting his elbows on his lap.
"It's okay for friends to kiss sometimes, right?" Matt asked. Ben arched a brow quizzically at Hal and Hal shrugged response, no clue where the odd question came from. Who knew where the conversations of children sprung.
"Yeah, it's okay," Hal assured Matt.
"Well, that's what I told Lincoln and Roger, but they didn't believe me. They said it's not allowed, that friends don't kiss, that it's gross and wrong," Matt ranted, "And I told them that was wrong because my dad and mom kissed their friends all the time!"
"Yeah, on the cheeks," Hal agreed.
"Yeah! And Ben and Jimmy kiss on the mouth, and that's what I told them and they still wouldn't believe me that it was okay," Matt went on, and the blood drained from Jimmy's head at that announcement. He froze in cleaning his gun, and darted a brief glance at Hal and Ben, their expressions similar to his own.
"How…how do you know that Ben and Jimmy kiss on the mouth?" Hal stammered question, attempting to sound nonchalant. He folded his arms over his chest and every so often sent a look of daggers Ben's direction.
"I saw them," Matt explained, as though that were obvious, "In the storage room."
Ben shot an alarmed look to Jimmy. Kissing was never all they did in that storage room, not in the few times they'd visited it in those past two weeks.
"Is that…uh…was that all you saw?" Ben asked, rubbing the back of his head nervously and attempting to sound innocent.
Hal gave Ben a look of bewilderment, one that Ben valiantly ignored, though his head did tip forward sheepishly. Jimmy set his gun down and, pulling his knee up on the tailgate, buried his red hot face in his hands: why didn't Ben just go ahead and write his brother daily reports on the progress of their sexual relationship? Matt looked uncertainly between them all, suddenly very confused.
"What else was there to see?" Matt wondered.
Hal and Ben's eyes went wide. Jimmy groaned silently. From bad to worse, bravo, Ben.
"Nothing," Ben snapped and Matt baulked at the sharp force of his tone.
Hal shook his head and massaged the bridge of his nose as he wondered, "Matt, did you tell other people about seeing Ben and Jimmy kiss? Or was it just Lincoln and Roger?"
"No...I didn't actually tell them either, I just..." Matt murmured, starting to grow ever more frightened. His brothers' behaviors were baffling and it was clear he couldn't figure out why they seemed so upset at him.
"Well, don't tell anybody. Ever," Ben commanded, "And stay out of the storage closet."
Jimmy sighed, rolled his eyes, and tried to fight down the blush still brightly coloring his cheeks.
"You stay out of the storage closet," Hal hissed at Ben, and Ben scowled at him.
"Why? Did you…and Jimmy…do something bad?" Matt asked, his timbre quaking and pitchy.
"No, it's not bad," Ben cried.
"It's just that…people shouldn't know that Ben and Jimmy…uh…kissed…" Hal fumbled for an explanation, but he faltered and shook his head, shifting his weight back and forth and glaring at a distant spot on the horizon, obviously discomforted by this entire conversation.
"But aren't they friends? You said it was okay for friends to kiss," Matt exclaimed, throwing his hands up in frustration, "I don't understand! You need to make up your mind."
"It is…it's just…" Hal stammered, furrowing his brow and shaking his head again, "You just can't tell people…about them…"
"Don't tell people," Ben growled.
"Doesn't that mean it's bad?" Matt whimpered, "You keep bad things from people..."
Jimmy grunted from where he sat, he couldn't listen to this anymore. He climbed to his feet and gave both Hal and Ben exasperated looks, "You're both going to screw him up for life, you know that, right?" He came to stand in front of Matt, leaning his palms on the tailgate and lowering himself to eye level with the younger boy, "Hey, Matt, you know there are different kinds of kisses right?"
"Yeah, I guess," Matt shrugged, still shaken from the verbal whiplash his older brothers had inexorably given him.
"Jimmy, I don't think you…" Hal started protest, and Jimmy waved him away.
"Just trust me," Jimmy muttered and then returning to Matt, "You know…different kisses for different people," he insisted, "Like…how your dad kisses you or your brothers is different from how he kisses his friends, right?"
Matt considered Jimmy's question and then thoughtfully nodded agreement, "I suppose."
Jimmy took a deep breath and tried to ignore the heat gathering in his cheeks.
"And you know, how your mom and dad would kiss, that that's different too?"
"Yeah," Matt conceded.
"Well," Jimmy fidgeted a moment and grimaced as he awkwardly explained, "In that closet, the type of kiss me and Ben gave each other…it wasn't the kind between friends…it was the kind like your mom and dad gave each other."
All three boys waited on bated breath as Matt processed that admission. His brow was furrowed and he sucked on his bottom lip, thinking it through, the gears in his head twisting and turning.
"So…" Matt murmured, and met Jimmy's eyes uncertainly, "Does that mean…you and Ben…love each other?"
Jimmy startled back a bit, blinking and catching his breath. Not exactly where he expected that to go. He bit his inner cheek and looked to Ben, the other boy's gaze intent on him. His heart beat a drum solo against his chest. For a moment, he was certain he'd forgotten how to breathe. That was not a conversation Jimmy felt ready to have yet, especially not in front of Ben's brothers. Jimmy dropped his eyes and returned his attention to the younger boy.
" Uh…how does that…would that…bother you?"
Matt thought on it a moment, looking curiously between Ben and Hal, as though searching them for the appropriate response. Then he shrugged and tipped his head to the side.
"I guess it would be fine. You're nice to me, and you're really cool, and Ben's always happy when you're around, so it's okay with me," Matt decided.
"Good," Jimmy told him with a satisfied smirk, then frowned again and explained, "But you see, Matt, if you told people about it, not everyone would feel that way."
"Why?" Matt demanded.
Jimmy hated that question. He could think of a hundred reasons why, and each one hurt more than the next, and not a single one would ever fully answer that question, not to the satisfaction of a curious little boy.
"Because…because…" Jimmy mumbled, searching and failing miserably to come up with a logical reason.
"Because I'm different, Matt," Ben spoke up, "You know that. People don't like it, and they would give Jimmy a hard time because of it."
Well there was that reason. Jimmy slumped a moment, frowning and struggling against the onslaught of harsh emotions churning inside of himself. He had known Ben felt that way, but to hear it said aloud really hurt, it felt as though he were losing some battle he'd started fighting weeks ago with the other boy and he had no chance of ever winning.
"I couldn't defend your brother," Jimmy whispered rigidly, expanding on Ben's painful admission, "No one would listen to me. They would think I was just taking his side because of…my feelings for him."
"And people wouldn't want to rely on them," Hal stepped in, adding a different side to the argument that neither Ben nor Jimmy had really considered, but hearing it aloud, knew it to be true, "They wouldn't want to trust them, they'd always question they're choices and why they're making them. Always wonder if their heads are really on the battlefield. It would make it hard for them to do their job, Matt, protect the 2nd Mass, which is what's important, right?"
"Right," Matt determined, he looked at the three older boys and announced, "Okay. I won't tell anyone. I promise." Then he raised a brow and demanded haughtily, "Can I go now?"
Jimmy snorted lightly, smirking, Ben and Hal chuckling at his back. He moved, letting Matt hop off the tailgate and meander away, and then turned to face the remaining Mason brothers, relieved by that dodged bullet, only to be met by Hal's dark glare. The older boy had his eyes narrowed dangerously on Ben and Jimmy.
"So…what else was there to see in that storage closet?" Hal growled question. Jimmy dropped his face to hide the deep blush that hit his cheeks hard but Ben just gave his brother an incredulous look.
"You really want to know that?" Ben demanded, nonplussed.
Hal's face scrunched in disgust, he shook his head violently back and forth, crying out, "Never mind," as he staggered away.
A few hours later, Jimmy lay beside Ben on their makeshift bed in the storage closet. They had made certain to securely lock the door in place that day. Their bodies were slick with sweat and though they still gasped for breath, their hearts were finally slowing in their breakneck paces.
After a moment, Ben lifted himself to sit on the edge of the mats, reaching for his pants and Jimmy watched him, smiling distantly and brushing his hand along Ben's bare back, tracing the contour of his muscles and around those spikes, then he sat up too, placing a kiss on Ben's shoulder blade. His head felt light suddenly and he leaned forward, resting his forehead against Ben's shoulder.
"You okay?" Ben questioned, worry evident in his quivering voice.
"Just feeling a little dizzy," Jimmy explained, frowning slightly.
"Oh. So…you're saying I make you swoon?" Ben teased.
Jimmy rolled his eyes and didn't bother dignifying that one with an answer. He straightened and reached for his own clothes, standing to pull his pants on.
"You sure you'll be ready to go back on patrols?" Ben wondered, watching Jimmy dress a moment. The other boy looked a little paler than normal, and, though the bruising and swelling had gone down, many of his injuries were still prevalent.
"You saying you don't want me out there with you?" Jimmy challenged and Ben instantly snatched his wrist and pulled him crashing down into a rough kiss.
"You're the only one I want out there with me," Ben promised, then dropped his voice low and confessed quietly against Jimmy's mouth, "Ever since that first patrol."
I like you, Jimmy.
Jimmy smirked, returned the kiss with a soft, timid one of his own.
"Yeah," he whispered reply, "Me too."
Final A/N: I can't believe its done. As I've said before, don't really like this chapter, I like parts of it, but not on the whole. Regardless of what I think, let me know what you think. Review, either the story as a whole or just this chapter. I'm kind of curious the overall impression, do you think it came together nicely. I've got my own opinions on it, obviously I'm a highly opinionated person, but I would like to hear yours as well.
As you can tell, I wrote this story to, for the most part, line up with events in season 2. So, if you are satisfied with thinking of season 2 as the continuation of this story, than this is it I suppose: ultimately Jimmy dies and Ben buddies up with his murderer.
Otherwise, I've written a sequel.
Last reviewer reply ever: First, for those of you commenting on my definition of 'pillow talk', all I have to say is this, it took you fifty chapters to figure out I'm twisted? :P Haley, it seems befitting to end this story with two of the most amazing uber "awww's" ever, long live the queen. You said you'd stick with me to the end, and you kept your word. I always knew I could rely on you, and for that I'm extremely grateful! Thank you for always taking the time. JDMlvr1, while your reviews were infrequent, they were always wonderful when you gave them, thank you so much for finding and enjoying my story! Greg, I have to admit, my review board never felt entirely complete without you on it, and I thought that if you could keep reading through the Ben-less chapters, then anyone could - teasing :). Thank you for your unwavering support in this story, you are too awesome. Ah...WhisperMaw, I've said it before, I'll say it again, your insights blow me away, and your reviews always managed to make me smile. LOL, about the sequel title, you're so right about Fire Light sounding like a Mary Sue name, some people come up with weird names...and Second Patrol, yeah, admittedly that came in and then instantly went back out of my mind as a possible title. And I can do wrong, I can do very wrong, but it warm my heart that you think I can't. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for everything. CallMePox, I never knew what was going to stick out for you in the chapters, which made your reviews such a wonderful surprise. I'm so glad you found my story, I'm still amazed you did, what with not being a Jimmy fan before...maybe you've been converted? Thank you for stopping in when you could, I always looked forward to a possible review from you!
For those of you who didn't have a chance to review last chapter, but have consistently reviewed in the past, thank you, you should know by now I awesome I think you all are, and if you didn't know, well you do now! For those of you who reviewed once or twice, or were never able to review at all but always read, thank you for supporting this story. You guys are awesome too.
Oi...That's a lot of thank you's. You guys rock. GO READ THE SEQUEL!