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They Started from a Distant Place

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He went to visit an old, old friend
And it was long, long overdue
And though they stayed up very late
They never talked out of turn or two

Nixon raised his hand, hesitating for a moment before bringing it down on the door. He knocked three times, rapidly and anxiously. That last time he had been here had been near a year ago and he had no idea what was waiting for him in the other side of that door. The very thought had anxiety swirling in his belly like bad fish.

Footsteps and then the door swung open, revealing a familiar face and red hair. Dick Winters stood on the other side of the threshold, surprise written across his lovely features. He was dressed in a pair of jeans and a white t-shirt, a rag in his hands.

"Lewis," Dick breathed his name like a prayer. His eyes went up and down Nixon's body in a manner that suggested he thought Nixon might not be real.

"Hey there, Dick," Nixon flashed a grin, pulling off his aviators and placing them atop his head. His hands were stuffed in his pockets and for the first time in ages he felt bashful.

"Jeez!" Dick suddenly snapped from his stupor, lunging forward to drag Nixon into a hug. He squeezed Nixon like the man might disappear the moment Dick loosened his grip. After the last few times Nixon had come and gone, it didn't seem so unlikely. "I didn't know you were coming. You should have called."

Nixon hesitated once again, slowly bringing his arms to wrap around Dick. He was a warm comfort in his arms and Nixon did not hesitate to press his face into Dick's neck, muttering against his skin. "I didn't know I was coming 'til today."

Dick stepped back, his hands on Nixon's shoulder. "I'm glad you came by. Come on inside."

Nix was dragged into the house by his arm, the door shut behind him before he was ushered into the living room. He took a seat on the loveseat, trying to remember the last time he had been on that couch. A year ago was the last time he had spent a night with Dick. They had started on the couch and didn't quite make it to the bed. At least not for the first part of the night.

The rest of the room was the same as Nixon remembered it. There were pictures of parts of Germany that Dick had visited during college, hanging right along with the pictures of his parents and his sister. There was the one picture of Dick and Lewis, arms around eachother's waists in front of the bar that Nixon had worked at for the whole of his twenties. Aside from lovely photos, there were magazines about travel and a National Geographic sitting on the coffee table, next to coasters and a vase of chrysanthemums.

"Here," Dick came into the room, setting a cup of coffee in front of Nixon, the perfect ration of cream to coffee in it. Dick sat next to him on the couch, nursing his own cup of coffee, black. They smiled at eachother for a long moment, neither breaking the air of comfort that had settled around them, the same as it always did when they were together. Finally, Dick had to speak. "I'm glad to see you, Nix. Where have you been?"

"Jesus, Dick," Nixon sat his coffee on the table, running a hand through his hair. "Everywhere."

And everytime they'd say goodbye
Well, he'd just stay another while
They started from a distant place
And were so happy face to face

The laughter died down as Nixon ate the last of the chips. His eyes fell to the watch on his wrist, reading it as nearly eleven o'clock. He had to get going soon, much as he didn't want to. In fact, he should have been off hours ago, but he just couldn't bear to part with Dick again. It felt like he was always leaving.

"Do you remember that time in college when Don Malarkey had everyone convinced that Spiers put his roommate in the hospital 'cause he stole a pack of cigarrettes," Nixon was already smiling at the memory, a laugh bubbling from Dick as well. "Said he even offered him a light before beating up on him. You heard from Spiers?"

It was a stall tactic, idle chatter about old friends. But Dick humored him, pursing his lips as if he had to think about it. "He and Lipton got married."

"No shit?"

"Yeah, they went up to takover his mom's Inn."

Nixon whistled low, looking over at the empty cup next to him. It had been refilled twice in the time he had been there. His chest ached when he saw the clock get closer to eleven. It was already pitch black outside. He had to be a state over by morning.

It must have shown on his face because Dick stood and gathered the dishes and took them into the kitchen. Nixon could hear the gentle tinking of the cups and bowl being laid in the sink. Dick always carefully placed them in, a constrast to the way Nixon used to toss his silverware in and slide the actual dishes simply next to the sink.

Dick came back in, groaning when he sat on the couch. As the cold came in, he knew that Dick's knees started aching. The redhead rubbed at his hair, a sad smile on his face. "You need to go, Lew. It's getting late. But, I'm glad you came by."

Lewis didn't move. There was a brief moment of silence and then a sad smile came to his face, eyes moving up to lock with Dick's. His voice was somber. "You never ask me to stay."

The one who left wanted everything
The one who stayed never wanted more
'It's not your choice, it's how you're built
It's in the blueprint of your soul'

Dick smiled and shook his head, leaning forward to lay a hand on Nix's thigh. Giving a soft squeeze, he tried to explain as best he could. "Lew, I would never ask you to stay. That's not your thing. You wouldn't be happy. I mean, if you wanted to stay a few nights, I'd be happy, but we both know that's as far as it goes."

The one who left, he dropped his smile
And they sat quiet for awhile
The one who stayed began to speak
And in his words he answered why

"Nix, I have never seen you happier than when you're running around," Dick moved closer, his smile remaining genuine. It was so like Dick to worry about Nixon's happiness. He had been looking after Lewis since they first roomed together in college. That was over ten years ago. "You like roaming and moonlighting. I'm good with that. I'm happy for you. Trust me, I don't need you to stay."

"You," Nixon tested the words in his mouth, hesitating once again. It felt like the whole night had been made up of hesitation on Nixon's part. Dick didn't seem to have any problem, he never did. "You really don't want more?"

'I'm just another drop in the bucket
I'm just another song on the jukebox
I'm just another face in the crowd
Another fish in the sea'

"Lew," Dick said it with so much fondness, giving his thigh a squeeze again. "I miss you like crazy when you go. But realistically, I know that we are very different people. I'm happy here, teaching and being with my family. You're happy living life to the fullest. I think if you stayed, it would be hard for both of us."

'Something to being one of the many
Something to being one of the masses
Something to being surrounded by others and not alone by yourself'

"What do you mean?" Nix pinched his face, expression screwed up.

"If you stayed, you might be happy at first, but I know you, Lew. You'd hate being stuck around here for so long. Then, of course, I'd feel terrible for keeping you here unhappy."

'I never wanted the bright lights in my eyes
I'm much too quiet
I never wanted them pointing their fingers at me
Oh, no, but
Something to being one of the many
Something to being one of the masses
Something to being surrounded by others and not alone by yourself,'

Nixon nodded, feeling a tightness in his chest. If he was younger, naive, he would have asked Dick to come with him. But, just as Dick knew Nixon wouldn't be happy staying, he knew Dick wouldn't be happy running away with Nixon. Sure, they loved eachother, there was no doubt. But Nixon supposed that part of love was recognizing where the other would be happiest, and letting them have that.

The one who left, he knew it then
And he would never doubt again
He loved this life, he loved his friend
But he'd keep running 'til the end

"You're right," Nixon put his smile back on and this one felt better. The tightness in his chest eased and though there was a heavyness in his shoulders, he knew that it would fade the farther down the road he went. "I'll still miss you."

"And you can visit whenever you want," Dick told him. "My door is always open. You know I love you."

"Yeah," Nix felt if he had a little more alcohol in him, he might be crying. "I love you too."

All the words they said hovered above
All of the pain, all of the love
They hugged goodbye
And in his room, he sang real quiet to the moon

Nixon got up and stretched, scatching at the top of his head. Dick stood when he did, polite to the point of pain. Literally, as Nixon knew his knees were aching. The pair made their way to the front door, soft smiles on their faces. Maybe it was painful, but it was an understanding.

Once again, Dick was the one to reach for Nixon, grabbing him into a tight hug. "Call me when you get there."

Whether he would or not, Nixon agreed. He always agreed. They parted only a few inches and Lewis couldn't resist. He never could. He put one hand on Dick's cheek and tugged him forward into a kiss.

Nixon wasn't dead. He had kissed a lot of people since spending that night with Dick a year ago, but he nothing ever felt as good as Dick Winters' lips on his. He felt Dick's hands on his hips, squeezing as tightly as he did in his hugs. It was already hard to let go, but Nixon forced himself to pull back, placing one last chaste kiss on Dick's lips before seperating completely.

"I'll see you around, Dick," Nixon smiled, picking up the aviators from where he had left them on a table by the door. It was dark, there was no need, but he placed them on the top of his head.

"I'll see you, Lew," Dick smiled that same fond smile and it hurt Nixon's heart a little less than it would have.

'Something to being one of the many who get to sing the songs on the jukebox
Who get to stay awake all night and dream half of the day
Something to waking up in a new town
Something to singing songs to a new crowd
Something to being surrounded by others and not alone by yourself'

Nixon got into his car, sparing one last wave for Dick who still stood in the doorway. The light from behind him made his hair glow. Nixon took a good look before putting the keys in the ignition. He pulled away from Dick's little house and made his way towards the highway.

He was expected somewhere else soon and he had to make good time. His sister demanded his presence, some ridiculous reason that seemed even dumber when faced with the prospect of leaving Dick.

But Dick was right, he always was. Nixon could stay a few days and enjoy it, but he was never one for stagnation. His fiance Kathy had left him after college for that very reason. She wanted him to settle down and he couldn't bring himself to stay around every night. It's not like he was cheating, he was just out. It always felt wrong to stay.

And maybe that was okay.

'Something to being one of the many who get to sing songs on the jukebox
Who get to stay awake all night and dream half of the day
Then wake up in a new town
Just another face in the crowd'