Had a few thoughts in my head as soon as I put Forgiven down, so I started writing just to see where it went. I hate/love Beck for what he did, but he contradicted himself a lot and I thought that would be something Riley would notice.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Demon Trappers Series or any of the characters. If I did, I wouldn't be here.
Denver Beck slumped onto his couch, letting his body sink into the cushions. His shouting match with Riley had done nothing to help his splitting hangover headache and had added an itch deep in the pit of his stomach.
Cracking his eyes open slightly, Beck reached for the tea and took another sip. While its flavor was something like how he imagined tree bark would taste, he closed his eyes tightly and downed the whole cup, leaving nothing but seriously aromatic dregs at the bottom. What was the worst that could happen with this witchy stuff? He'd continue to feel the same?
With a shrug, he put the empty mug down on the coffee table - next to the plate of oatmeal cookies. He hesitated, his hand hovering over the pile of the most wonderful dessert to ever grace his taste buds. That feeling boiled up in his stomach again, and he doubted it had anything to do with the hangover. He sighed angrily and placed his head in his hands, resting his elbows on his knees, ridden with guilty feelings.
I'm sorry, Paul. What else could he have done? Put it nicely? No, he wanted her to hate him, needed her to hate him, to stay away and avoid him at all costs. As soon as Justine finished her article, he would be packing. By the time the rest of Atlanta was reading all the juicy details of his horrific youth, he would be long gone, letting them form their own opinions. He didn't care; he'd be out of here. The demons appeared to be back to normal, the holy water scam was under control, Heaven and Hell backed off, Rome was no longer trying to prove Riley was Lucifer's newest minion...
Riley. That itch wormed its way back into his attention, making him want to hit something again. But his hand still hurt from the last dent he put in the wall a few minutes ago. Riley. He shook his head, trying to ignore the feelings he'd been carrying around for weeks...
He'd address the money from Paul's life insurance as soon as his head stopped pounding. Then she'd be fine; she'd have Stewart until she was eighteen, and Heaven knew all she wanted was to be on her own as soon as her birthday passed. To be independent. To be a woman.
"Dammit!" he said through gritted teeth. I'm sorry, Paul. This is the only way I know how to make her go. "She deserves better than some bastard low-life from the middle of nowhere."
The pounding on the door almost matched the pounding in Beck's head; had the two not been out of sync, he might not have noticed it.
He groaned. Who now? Justine left, Riley left. Maybe one of them had made a call: Justine, to the residents of Sadlersville, digging into the so well hidden skeletons in his closet; Riley, to Stewart. But neither the cops nor the old Scotch could have gotten here that fast.
Beck slowly made his way to the door, and as soon as he turned the knob, it flew open, slamming into the wall after going as far as it could on its hinges. In the doorway stood Riley, and though there were tear tracks on her cheeks and the rims of her eyes were red and puffy, she stood with her hands on her hips, shooting a determined, stony glare at him.
"What are ya -" he began, but she cut him off. She took a few steps forward, passing the threshold and shutting the door behind her. She reached up and pulled his head down. His lips crashed into hers, and he submitted to reliving the moment in the graveyard, defenseless against the feeling of having everything he'd ever wanted. He put his hands on either side of her waist, remembering how the rest of his life was crashing down around him, so maybe this part didn't have to...
He pulled away from her, unsure of how long they had been locked in embrace, but completely aware of how both of their breathing was slightly labored. "Dammit!" he said again, running a hand through his messy blonde hair. "What the hell was that for?" He wasn't sure whether he should look at her or not.
"To remind you of last night." Her voice was cold, but sounded like she was pleased with herself. Of course she was - he had kissed back, eagerly.
Beck cursed himself, but stuck to his story. "I told ya, I only did that 'cause I thought we might die."
"That's a load of bullshit and you know it," she shot back immediately. "This is about Justine's article." His head snapped up. She stared at him, arms crossed, defiant and prepared to refute and rebut everything he said. He saw in her eyes that his response to the accusation told her it was correct. "When I figure out what you won't tell me about it -"
"Ya don't know what yer talkin' about!"
She continued like he hadn't said anything. " - I'll be right back here, telling you that I don't care what you did when you were twelve."
"It's for yer own-"
"Good? Yeah, I'm not buying that."
No, he could not deal with this. He found himself relieved more than anything next. Of all the things Riley had expected him to do - shout, glare, walk away, hit something - obviously pick her up and throw her over his shoulder was not on the list. He seized his opportunity to speak.
"You're being delusional if ya think this something real," he told her, his voice as harsh as he could make it; it was better that he couldn't see her face.
"Liar," she fired back. "You tell me you're no good for me, that I deserve better. Then you say I'm crazy for thinking this could ever happen."
He winced, realizing how many holes he'd dug for himself. He planted her down just outside the doorway and began to close the door.
Riley stuck her foot in the crack before it completely shut. Beck leaned his head against the wood, beaten. "This is why," she said. The words were quiet.
"Why what?" he asked, though her voice made him uneasy.
"Why I run to fallen angels and do all that other stupid stuff."
"Oh," Beck scoffed, unable to resist taking an opportunity to be mad at her in hopes of it making this easier. "So all yer mistakes are my fault? Yeah, that makes perfect sense."
She glared at him. " 'I can't live without you.' " He winced at the words he had spoken the previous night, the ones he'd meant with every part of his being, and still did. " 'I don't need you no more.' " He'd said those too, just a few minutes ago. "You tell me you wish we'd had a chance, but that now I'm daydreaming about a relationship. You want me to help you with that computer program, you want me to be the one to take care of Rennie, then you kick me out the door. Yesterday I was a woman, today I'm a girl." Her voice had stayed quiet instead of rising, and she found herself somewhere between a conniption and a tantrum. Probably closer to the former, as she felt a wave of angry tears trail down her cheeks.
"I-" he started.
She shook her head, signaling she wasn't finished. "You jump in front of an Archfiend because you didn't want it to hurt me. Now you're the one pushing the dagger into my heart."
"Riley," Beck whispered, not sure what else to say. Yeah, he'd been a total asshole, but that was for her - why couldn't she see he was trying to protect her? "There are things I can't tell ya."
"Then why can't you say that, instead of pushing me away?"
"Ya can't be seen with me. We can't be..."
"Together?" she finished for him. "Well, let me give you a news flash, Backwoods Boy: I don't care what she digs up on you."
"Yes, ya will. Ya'll look at me different. Everyone will." He looked at her, the sadness in his eyes beyond measure, moving her towards compassion. He saw it and tried to appeal. "Please, Riley. I don't want to see ya look at me like that."
"I know you have feelings for me."
Beck sighed in frustration. "Was that all ya got outta that?" Talk about selective hearing.
She continued, "So I'll be here. After you close this door in my face, after the article comes out, after you realize that it's not as bad as you think, I'll be here. I'm not letting you push me away."
Beck shook his head, but he opened the door enough for him to fit in the doorway, right in front of her. He bent down slightly, resting his forehead against hers. He chuckled lightly and sadly. Why can't ya Blackthornes ever leave me be? Every time, undoubtedly, there was always a Blackthorne. Miriam, sending him those cookies when he was in the army and surrounded by darkness. Paul, telling him he was anything but useless and worthless every day he was reminded of Sadie and everything he didn't ever want to remember again. And now, Riley.
But this time, the anchor that was the Blackthorne family couldn't save him from his past. "I'm sorry I hurt ya. I just needed ya to hate me by the time ya found out."
"That's not happening," she reiterated.
He chuckled again, and the vibration sent a warmth through her. "I know. But I still gotta sever my ties here."
Riley pulled away in surprise. "Sever your- You're leaving Atlanta?" He nodded. "What about trapping?"
"No, Beck." Riley shook her head in horror, unable to believe it. Every time they'd had an argument, he was still there, in the same place, ready when she needed him. His enormous army duffle bag, his steel pipe, his messy blonde hair and deep, light brown eyes, his southern drawl. Gone. "You...you can't go."
"I can't stay, not with that article comin' out. I told ya, I can't see ya look at me like I'm..." He trailed off, unable to speak the words.
"But I won't!" she assured him. She didn't know if it was true - she just needed him to stay.
"Ya never had anythin' to prove to me," he whispered, gently moving a lock of hair away from her face. He smiled softly, full of regret. "But maybe we'll get our chance one day." He cradled her face in his hands and kissed her forehead. "Sorry."
It took every ounce of army discipline in his body to take a step back and close the door on her love- and pain-struck expression. Once shut, Beck backed up against the wood and slid down to the floor, breathing deeply until the constriction around his chest lessened.
One day. He let out a rueful sigh. He knew the chances of that actually happening were slim and none, but it was the only thing that made him stand on his lead legs and use his jelly arms to begin to pack his belongings.
A/N: Wow. First fic uploaded. King having a proud moment right now... Okay. I'm good.
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