These Mortals Be

This is the first short fic of my "30 Days of Ships" challenge: 30 different fandoms, 30 different pairings, each written in a single day. I started with this one because I just watched this episode last night, and I wanted to get my thoughts down.

Universe: Mad Men

Pairing: Roger/Don onesided angst

Timeline: Ending of Episode 3.3, "My Old Kentucky Home"

Rating: PG. It's all in Roger's head.

Disclaimer: I don't own Mad Men. If I did, there would probably be way more homoerotic subtext, and I don't think the universe could handle it if everyone pulled a Sal. Don't sue my ass.

"No one thinks you're happy. They think you're foolish."

The pit fell out of my stomach as I stared into those angry eyes. I had seen that look before, that brimming rage bubbling just beneath the surface. And of all the shades those grey-blues took, I knew this was the most dangerous. The tiger was out, and I sure as hell was looking like an antelope.

I wanted to tell him to stop acting like a child who had his toy taken away. I knew he wanted her. Why not? She was a leggy, spindly thing, with a smile that could melt down a nuclear reactor, and. . . Oh God, the things that girl could do with her. . . I knew Don was a man who could recognize talent. That was one of the reasons he was so formidable.

I wanted to apologize, for once in my life, and that was ridiculous. What did I have to apologize to him for? That stupid thing with the missus? I was drunker than a Scotsman, and he knew how I got when I was drinking. I was only playing around. And besides, that was ages ago. A whole lifetime ago. Hell, if I had to apologize to everyone I offended in the course of a day, I'd never have time for anything else.

Was he trying to get revenge? Why? He was a brilliant communicator, so why would he ever stoop to that level. I would rather have had him sock me in the face . . . At least that would have been honest. And I definitely deserved that.

I rolled back on my heels slightly, trying to sort out my thoughts. I knew two things for certain. One, I was intensely jealous. And two, whatever happened next might be the final nail in the coffin of the best friendship -possibly the only friendship - I had ever had. I would have to tread carefully.

I stared into his eyes, trying to use my soulful look that I saved for hormonal women and angry clients. "That's the great thing about a place like this," I replied coolly. "You can come here and be happy, and you get to choose your guests."

God damn it. What the hell was that? What just came out of my mouth?

His eyes took on a look I had never seen before, not exactly. He was going into his introspective mode, and that I was intimately familiar with. But there was something new, something he had never let me see there before. Was it pain? Had I actually. . . Hurt his feelings?

I felt the bile rising in my stomach, and I had to turn away. I couldn't face him. Not like this. I had put my foot in it this time, and now he probably thought I. . .

But I always wanted him around. Whenever I was lonely, or bored, or angry, he had always been the first person I could turn to. Being around him was one of the things that made me happy. That sardonic half-smile, the way he never quite approved of me. . .

This time, it was different. It had gone from slight disapproval to all-out disgust, and over what? Why did he suddenly hate me so much that he would try to steal the only other person I had left? Didn't he understand that I needed him with me on this?

I looked over at Jane, sitting there in her white floral shift. She was still pretty tipsy, playing with the tablecloth with a strange, childlike smile on her face. She looked so vulnerable, so in need of protection. Just like me. Why was I the only one who saw how perfect we were? Why couldn't I have the charmed life, for once?

Was I really happy? Damn straight. I was deliriously happy. Why would I even consider that this was all a mistake? I wanted to be happy, so I was. And everyone else could stew, for all I cared. Even Don.

Especially Don.

There was that sick feeling again. Was it something I ate? No. I probably just wasn't drunk enough yet.

I walked over to Jane, beautiful, sweet, innocent Jane, and pulled her out onto the dance floor. Almost everyone had left by now, and the help was clearing the tables. But the band played on, and god damn it, if I stopped moving now, I might regret what I said.

I looked up, just once, to see Don slinking away into the night, and even though I had my arms wrapped around everything I told myself I wanted, I'm not sure I'd ever felt quite so alone.

It should be him.

The thought flashed through my mind, and I felt myself color slightly. I really wasn't drunk enough for this.

That's not to say I'd never had that thought before. But it wasn't the sort of. . . I wasn't a man's man, you know? And I knew he wasn't. Hell, between us, we'd probably laid half the girls in Manhattan by now. It just wasn't done. And I sure as hell wasn't comfortable with where my head was at.

I nuzzled against Jane's swanlike neck, muttering softly into her smooth skin. God damn, I loved the way her skin felt against my face. She moaned softly, relaxing against me as our dance became something less than dancing and not quite daydreaming.

"I love you, Roger," she whispered.

"And I you, my dear," I replied.

Though in my heart, I knew that wasn't half as true as I wanted it to be.