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In Vino Veritas

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They were drinking in a saloon somewhere, honestly Billy had stopped paying attention to the names of towns a while ago; it's in Arizona, somewhere to the west, but beyond that he doesn't care much. Bluff, or Creek, or Springs, it all blends together after a while. They have been drifting west, having wintered in Austin, riding out as soon as the weather was clement enough, both of them itching for the open road.

Shooting had been good, the town large enough not to clean it out all in one day and for once their pockets are lined and the mood towards them amiable. They have a room upstairs and Billy is looking forward to sleeping in a bed and not on a blanket on the ground.

Life is unexpectedly good, a small temporary pocket holding all he can ask for, tomorrow it may change, or he’ll want something else, but right now they are ensconced together on the plush red seats of a booth, back to the wall and a view to the door in a place which sells actual whiskey with a name on the bottle. The food has been good, the piano is not terribly flat, and Billy is honestly sleepier than he cares to admit.  

Next to him Goody’s eyes are bright and alert and his hands steady. He even indulged in a little demonstration of his skills with the rifle today, shooting cans at 600 yards, carefully lining up the shot and watching them fall over. It's a rare enough occurrence that Goodnight does that anymore, and it had made Billy swell a little with pride. He's seen Goody do it a few times, go into that place where nothing exists except the target and the rifle and the connecting line between them. He looks peaceful there, but empty, horribly blank. It takes a toll and Billy knows sometimes it takes too much for him to come back to himself. Ordinary noises usually bother him afterwards, a crack from a whip and the rumble of wagon wheels taking on another, sinister quality, becoming gunshots and artillery fire in a strange, treacherous morphing of reality which is truly terrifying for Billy to consider. He has known night terrors, but they have never visited him in the daytime like Goody’s does and he hopes they never will. Today though, Goody only looks pleased with a skill, a little showy, a little flashy, and now he’s talking to the man next to them about the terrain to the west, trying to find out their best route forward, with settlements large enough to rustle up a few competitions.


A lot of the good townsfolk wants to buy them a drink, both on account of Billy’s shooting and because Goody’s reputation in the war. It's good drink and they keep coming and Billy don't think too much about it when two tall glasses of dark red liquid end up in front of him.


“Bordeaux, wine” Goody tells him and takes a cursory sniff swirling the liquid. “And none to bad at that. We must have impressed somebody.” Further down the bar a group of three women raise their glasses to him, smiling, and cocking their heads.


For all that Goody has sung it's virtues Billy has never had grape wine, he's not sure why he would spend money on it when there is whiskey and beer and rot-gut to drink. He takes a sip now, and he's not sure he can see the charm. It tasted sour and sweet at the same time and made his tongue curl. Goody laughed at his face and took a sip from his own glass. Billy took another couple of gulps, unwilling to show how much he disliked it. He can match Goody glass for glass of anything and goddamn anyone who says different. He didn't notice though the strange grimace flying across Goodnights face and how he immediately puts down the glass.


“You might not want to...” Goody starts and then trails off, eyeing Billy's mostly empty glass, “...drink that too fast,” he finished, his tone wry.

“Why not?” Billy asked, fully expecting Goody to spin him some bullshit about how wine needs to be savoured, as if it didn’t taste like drinking sour, over-steeped tea. He caught Goody’s eye and knocked the rest back as if it was hooch, and Goody winced.


“You might regret that, my friend,” Goody said, eyes searching the saloon before settling on something behind Billy shoulder.


“It’s probably nothing anyway, but let me know if you start feeling sleepy. And hold on to your boots,” he added cryptically and patted Billy's arm, putting his own whiskey glass into his hand instead, pushing the wine glasses out of the way. Billy sipped the whiskey, enjoying the familiar burn and feeling the long day slowly dissipate. For the moment all's right with the world. There was money in his pockets and food in his belly, and Goody’s bought fresh tobacco and tomorrow they’ll be on the trail again. Billy breathed out and leant back into the seat, Goody was just next to him, talking and talking to some fella that’s bought them drinks.

The group of women had drifted down the room until they are right next to their booth. They are what Billy supposes Goody means when he says “women who are no better than they should be”. And that suited Billy down to the ground. They are very pretty in their bright dresses and overdone hair, like plumaged birds, eye-catching and gaudy.


“I’m Grace,” one of the women introduces herself, with a wide smile “and these is my sisters, Patience and…”

“Chastity,” the third one fills in, looking anything but, leaning down to give Billly a spectacular view of her cleavage. There wasn't a strong family resemblance but Billy’s not one to quibble over small details.


“Billy Rocks,” he tells them, shaking their dainty hands, “A pleasure to meet you,” and Chastity smiles like a cat with a canary.


“I hear you are quite the man of the hour,” Patience said, leaning forward, she has an inviting smile, with dimples. “Whole town’s talking about how nobody’s seen a faster hand.”


“Fast in some ways,” Billy said and gave her a considering look. “Slow in others,” he drawled and she laughed behind her fan. Billy’s blood was beginning to feel slow and hot. But he must've been more tired than he thought because he couldn't keep the thread of the conversation, not that he really needs to as such, but there were still some formalities that needed to be cleared up.


And he’s thinking that maybe them, or at least one of them, and him, should go somewhere and spend some time and he’s not sure, something strange has happened to his ears where all noise is rising and falling like crashing waves, and his eyelids feels heavy and slow when he blinks, but he thinks steps of negotiation is being taken in that direction when Goody accidentally puts his hand on top of Billy’s under the table and the world stops in its tracks.


It’s just for a moment, Goodnights flat and calloused palm over Billy’s fingers, startlingly warm where sensation is not cut off by Billy’s gloves, but it is the most important thing in the world. And then Goody pats his hand a bit (because that’s what Goody does, when he accidentally touches Billy, he touches him a bit more on purpose. If they bump their shoulders together Goody will always reach out and pat the shoulder a couple of times while apologizing. He is just friendly like that. And handsy, Billy has learnt to live with it, it seems to be connected to his ideas of good manners).


But somehow this is different, somehow now the touch sends fire up Billy arm, winding around his spine, spreading down to curl in his belly and groin. He is aware of Goodnight’ body, of his voice, the warmth from him and the point where their shoulders are nearly touching. Goody deftly strokes his hand along Billy’s fingers in silent apology and the sensation makes him want to tip his head back and groan. The whole thing is over in seconds, and yet Billy's gaze is inexorably drawn away from the women and towards Goodnight.  


And fuck, but he’s beautiful. It's strange that he’s never really thought about it until now, but Goody has high beautiful cheekbones, sharp blue eyes, and a sensual mouth, always with a crooked grin and Billy wants to touch him so badly he can hardly stand it.


One of the women startles him by leaning over to tap her bony fingers to his hand on top of the table and he dimly remembers that there was some sort of conversation, before everything shifted tracks. Before he was content to just watch Goodnight in a bright, rainbow bubble of desire. He muzzily tries to recall, but the specifics won’t come, overcrowded with the earth-shattering epiphany he's just had. Looking over at her it strikes him that she looks lovely, her skin seems to be almost glowing in the light from the lamps and how it would look if she was naked, and her and him, and Goodnight and the two other girls…


Billy has never been one to overcrowd his bed before but now he found that the thought just sweeps in and leaves him shattered. He's about to tell Goody of this new, marvellous idea but he gets distracted by how his own tongue feels against the inside of his lip, the slip and drag over his teeth to the smooth texture, and by Goody’s mouth and the plump round curl of his top lip, softly shielded by the beard, and how it would feel if it was Goody’s lips against the tip of his tongue instead of his own. Whatever Goody sees in his face makes him look concerned for a split second before he broke into a soft, sympathetic laugh.


“Oh, Billy,” he said ruefully, “Sweet Jesus on the cross, I only thought it would make you sleepy.”


And Billy tried to answer him, he did, but his tongue was still stuck to the roof of his mouth and somehow he's helpless to convey the oceans of want locked up inside him.


“Let's get you out of here,” Goody said, patting his back. “If you excuse us ladies, I think my associate is feeling a little indisposed.”


He got up and tugged Billy up with him, getting vertical made him realise he's uncomfortably hard, straining against his pants.


“You could leave it to us?” one of the women says, he can’t recall her name, something beautiful and virtuous? Was it Ha Eun? Chung Cha?  And Billy thought, yes, he would quite like to go with her. Her smile was very bright and left smears of white light when she moved her head. “We have quite the experience of caring for what ails him.”


To this Goodnight only smiled, all charm and ease, “No doubt such lovely ladies as yourselves would be excellent nurses; but I fear he's just overindulged a little, and as such would be sadly disappointing to you. No, no, no ladies, don't get up on your pretty feet. I'm sure this gentleman right here has been waiting to make your acquaintance” and with that he steered Billy away, a firm hand on his shoulder.


He was briefly disappointed that they were walking away from the women but then Goody’s thumb brushed the bare skin at his neck and want lanced through him, sharp as a needle. He took advantage of Goody’s closeness to wrap an arm around his waist, sneaking his fingers under the waistcoat so they rest on the warm cotton closest to the skin. Through the fabric he can feel the swell of belly, crest of a hip bone, the ribs expanding with breath. The first sets of stairs takes them up the mezzanine, and then once through the doors they are in the warren of corridors and rooms and Billy figures he’s waited long enough.


He leaned into Goodnight heavily, pushing him into the wall and kissed him. Goody's mouth was at first slack in surprise against his and then for a brief, dizzying instant he kissed back, mouth wet and beard a rough scrape against Billy’s chin. It only lasted for a moment though, before Goody made a soft, protesting noise and pushed him off gently.


“Hey, hey now calm down, that ain't something you want to do.”

Bill thought that was bullshit because it's very obviously something he wanted to do, and if Goody would just let him it would be something he wanted too, but when he tried to kiss him again Goody held him off with his hands on his shoulders. Even the slight resistance felt good in his body, satisfying to push against, made him want to push against it harder.


“Billy, just wait a minute. I think you’ve got yourself confused, we left those women downstairs, remember?”

Which was just about the stupidest thing Billy 's ever heard, but it was pretty much what he should’ve expected out of Goodnight, the man didn't have the sense a goat was born with. Its not like he doesn't know Goody isn't a lady.


“I know who you are, Goodnight,” he said, rolling his eyes and yanking the man closer, nuzzling his jaw and Goody swallowed heavily.


“You had too much of the wine, you see?” said, sounding wobbly, and Billy frowned uncomprehending. Granted he was a bit in his cups but he could absolutely preform should it come to that and he gripped Goody’s hand pulling it down to the more than interested bulge in his pants to show him, and Goody yelped and withdrew, like he was really a well-mannered Southern Belle and Billy giggled, delighted that he’d made Goody blush.


“That ain’t what I meant, no! There was Spanish Fly or something else in that wine downstairs. I didn’t think to warn ya and then you’d go drank it all and I thought that the worst thing that could happen was that I would have to carry you up the stairs, because I’ve never seen Spanish Fly work a damn, other than to make a fella sleepy.”


“Fly?” Billy asked lazily, he’d taken advantage of Goody’s endless talking by making himself comfortable, one knee settled between Goody’s legs so he could rub himself along his thigh. It felt wonderful, Goody was welcome to talk some more if it meant Billy was allowed to continue. Sadly, he wasn’t, Goody firmly holding him back (Billy wasn’t at all sure he would have ever struck out with Goodnight from the beginning if he’d ever known he was such a puritan).


“Billy. Listen,” Goody said slowly and Billy bristled, there was no reason to treat him as if he was slow in some way. “Now remember those lovely ladies of the night downstairs? You were getting along famously.The wine they sent over was laced. It’s about the oldest trick in the book, find some poor sap who's flush, drug him and clean him out. I didn’t want to raise a fuss ‘cause I can't say I blame ‘em, folks everywhere needs to eat and anyway I can’t prove a damn thing...”


The sound of Goody’s voice started to warp and refracture, the same as downstairs, breaking into an unintelligible cascade of waves, but Goody was so serious, his eyes intent and his brow furrowed and Billy felt a slight worry, maybe something was wrong, he couldn’t focus on what Goody was trying to say, but he was so distressed and it was comforting to lean closer, until they were lined up, warm and safe against each other, like they always ought to be, letting the familiar timbre of Goodnight’s voice wash over him.


“...and Lord knows I shouldn’t have been so cavalier, but  I didn’t think it would do anything and I definitely didn’t think it would do this! So that's why you need to slow down for a second before you do something you'll regret,” Goody finished, breathing heavily, and Billy smiled dreamily at him, lifting his fingers to gently smooth Goody’s furrowed brow.


“You worry so much,” he said simply and Goody nodded, so close now their foreheads were nearly touching.


“I worry a whole lot right now,” he said earnestly.


“Don’t worry,” he assured him, feeling confident again. “I’ll take care of you, I’ll take care of you so good” he promised, hearing his own voice getting rough and dark, letting his breath ghost over Goody’s jaw and neck and Goody pushed him away roughly.


“Goddamnit Bill, that was not what I meant!”


Billy whined and strained against his hold, beyond frustrated with Goody being right there and not being allowed to touch him.


“We're going to the room now!” Goody commanded, voice sharp as a whip and it made Billy shiver hot all over. He had no objections if this was the way it was going to go but Goody still wouldn’t let him touch him and he was feeling so desperate, wanting so much it was difficult to remember how to breathe.


“Why are you being so mean?” he complained, unable to keep the needy whine out of his voice.


“I’m being mean?” Goody said, voice rising. “Merde, Billy.”


Goody rubbed a hand over his face and grabbed Billy’s arm pulling him along. Billy could dimly remember that there had been a time where he would have put a knife into Goody’s hand for touching him uninvited, but it just felt good now, the rough contact, and even struggling against his hold felt darkly satisfying.


The second the door was closed behind them Billy used the hand still gripping his shoulder and their momentum to slam Goody into the wall and knock his hat off. It felt good to use his body, to crowd Goody in and finally, finally get his hands on him. Billy took advantage of the few inches Goody had on him to zone in on a spot just under his jawbone, biting and sucking until Goody cursed loudly and groaned, thumping his head back hard against the wall.


“Billy, come on,” he panted weakly but his hands had made their way to Billy’s shoulders pulling him in and the next time Billy found his mouth he didn't protest, only opened up, letting Billy lick into that wet heat. Goody whined and bucked up against him, hands closing convulsively around his shoulders, pulling him in closer.


It was sweet, so sweet, because Billy knew he’d won. Goodnight wanted him, Goodnight wanted this. It felt like a perfect moment, hanging gloriously suspended in the air, Billy rocking against Goodnight, kissing him until the rest of the world fell away. He moved to sucking and biting at his neck and Goodnight gasped and cursed breathlessly in his ear. He felt like his skin was so hot it was going to melt and the arousal pounding in his groin was bordering on painful.


The world was becoming disjointed, his self control cracking and splintering, he was rucking Goody’s shirt out of his trousers so he could slip a hand inside, the waistcoat was long gone, splaying a hand over his ribs, the sensation of skin like gunpowder to a flame, white and obliterating. His movements were getting increasingly jerky and clumsy and if he had ever known words in any languge they were gone now.


“Stop it,” Goody said and Billy just shook his head, moved his mouth to Goody's neck and bit down. Billy rarely wanted, life being too disappointing for wants and he seldom demanded, demanding too dangerous for the likes of him, but he wanted now. He demanded now. Goody was the one thing he wanted and he was going to have it. And he kissed him to make it clear, to conquer and hold.


“Oh Lord, I thought all I would do was to leave you alone for a spell to the venial sin of self-pollution,” Goody said, sounding drunk, tilting his head away, mouth out of Billy’s reach. Which frankly was not so much a deterrent as a tactical mistake because it gave him access to his neck instead and if there was anything Billy learnt, it was that Goody really liked to be kissed there.


“Ah Christ, chér,”Goody cursed. “Don’t,” he gasped, sounding so sad and desperate it wrenched Billy’s heart. 


“Shhh,Goody, let me, please, just let me. Please, please, please,” he begged, because he wanted to be good, he wanted to be nice and sweet, agreeable but Goody just wasn't working with him. He wanted Goody to pet and praise him.


He was brushing his lips over Goody’s jaw, his cheeks and mouth, humming and soothing, Goody’s unsteady breath fluttering over his ear. Taking off his gloves, and placing his bare hand on Goody’s neck, the pulse beating under his thumb, the other hand brushing and petting over shoulders and chest.


Slowly, slowly Goody’s arms came up around him again, pulling him in, holding him close. Goody sighed and lowered his head, kissing Billy, slow, earnest. His fingertips were trailing over Billy’s face like it was something precious and rare, over his cheeks and brows, smoothing the mustache on his top lip with infinite gentleness.


"You must be the most beautiful thing in all creation," he whispered, gently and reverently. Goody’s eyes looked glazed, dark and unfocused and there was a pink flush all over his face. Billy’s efforts had loosened his clothes and he looked good, so good and Billy knew if he could just push him a little further…


Instead Goody pulled him in, held him so close he couldn't really get his mouth on him, only restlessly rub their bodies together, chest to chest, his hands scrabbling for purchase against the door.


“How you feeling?” Goody asked, his voice dark and cracked and it made Billy shiver. He wanted to take him apart, hearing that voice break completely, singing Billy’s filthy praises and promises.


“Good, I feel really good,” he assured him. ”I just really want you, want to feel you,” and Goody exhaled shakily, arms tightening.


“You tired?”


“No,” he denied vehemently and then relented as Goody stroked and patted  him calmingly, down his back, melting against Billy. “Maybe, a little,” he admitted, relaxing under Goody’s hands. His head felt swimmy and his eyelids heavy, the room had begun to spin gently, with Goody at the centre of the vortex. He wanted so to be good, for Goody to praise him.


“Well, there is a bed right there,” Goody suggested gently and Billy managed to pull away enough that he could grin up at Goody.


“Don’t intend to sleep in it,” he said wolfishly, rolling his hips.


“Get in the bed, Rocks,” Goodnight said firmly, and Billy laughed in giddy, breathless anticipation and they went down into the bed in a tangle of arms and legs.


A heavy lassitude was stealing over his limbs making his movements clumsy and slow, he seemed to be floating a little over the counterpane. Goody shifted his weight above him, straddling his hips and Billy groaned, feeling the movement like dull sparks along his spine, the pleasure tantalizingly out of reach. He stretched out a hand to cup Goody’s crotch,rubbing the hot bulge in his pants, enjoying the way he groaned and shamelessly ground down into it. Goody’s hands were stroking his hair, and he could feel exhaustion tugging at his body, he just wanted to lie back and enjoy the sensation, eyes closing against his own volition.


“Shhh, shhhhh,” he heard Goody mutter as his eyes began to close and his hands lost their strength. He whined discontented, making one last effort, bucking his hips up and grabbing at Goodys shoulder, bringing their mouths crashing together.


“If you weren’t going to do anything about it why didn't you just let me go and solve my problem?” he groaned, vengefully nipping and licking at Goody’s lips, definitely harder than he needed to. Goody was gently holding him down and seemed to be playing the waiting game, patiently letting the exhaustion swallow Billy bit by bit.


“Had I know this was the way it was going I would’ve, but foolishly didn't want to see you cleaned out to your smalls. You’re the one holding our money remember? And don’t think you much cared for wanted your knives getting lost either,” Goody huffed but his hands were still gentle.


“I could have taken them” Billy whined, rolling his hips, bucking against Goody. “It was only three of them,” above him Goody made a pained noise.


“Lord Bill, that’s not an image I need right now,” he said, voice cracked and rough. Billy really wished he wouldn’t talk so much and instead go back to kissing him like he'd done before. Goody’s fingers scratched into Billy’s hair and he just arched back and enjoyed it, the sensation sending pulses of fire down his spine. Goody seemed to have given up on talking for now, he was not quite kissing Billy, hovering just out of reach and Billy snapped after his lips like a dog.


“Shhhh,” Goody murmured, and in spite of the fire in his blood, Billy feels himself starting to drift,eyes falling shut.


“Don’t go,”he begged, feeling Goody slipping out of his hands “Please stay, stay,” and all he could hear was Goody’s soft, whispered murmurings as if he was trying to gentle a horse, while his hands spasmed and came away empty.


When Billy woke up the sun was streaming in through the window and he was in the bed with a blanket over him. His boots were tidily placed on the floor at the foot of the bed but of Goody there was no trace. His head felt heavy and ached, and his movements were sluggish and slow.


In a vain effort to piece some of his dignity back together Billy splashed some water on his face and changed his shirt, before going looking for Goodnight. The face that looked out at him in the little sliver of glass above the washbasin looked pale and shifty, with purple shadows at the corners of his eyes. He’d have been a lot more anxious if he hadn’t seen Goody’s saddlebags still leaning against the wall where he had left them, as it was now it was just a small, insistent worry digging in his gut, as well as an unfamiliar and most unwelcome feeling of sheepishness.


“Should have thought of that earlier,” he told his reflection, no use of regretting anything when the damage was already done. Goody wasn’t anywhere downstairs, part of Billy had been afraid he’d find him drunk senseless and sleeping in a booth (which had happened a couple of times in the beginning of their acquaintance).


It wasn’t until he took the route through the livery stable to check on their horses he found Goody, asleep in the hay next to Juniper, his head on the saddle, his hat tipped over his eyes. He slept with his feet tucked in and arms tightly crossed over his chest. His face was shielded by the brim of his hat but Billy knew there was a deep furrow between his eyebrows and that he was clenching his jaw, as if remaining asleep was a great effort. There was a purple bruise just under the hinge of his jaw and Billy could, with a strange sensation of shame mixed with something else, something fierce and possessive, remember the whine Goody'd let out when he bit him there.


He watched the threadbare shape for a little while before deciding it was better to let him sleep and went off in search of decent food. He thought he had seen a laundry further down the main road which might have a kitchen out back.



When Goody found him, late in the afternoon, Billy idly playing a game of dice in a backstreet, neither of them said much. Goody lit a cigarette and passed it to him after a few drags and a little after Billy collected his meagre winnings, it was gambling for pennies really, and they went out get resupplied before heading out again.


“You remember anything ‘bout last night?” Goody finally asked, when they were way out of town, only them and the campfire and Billy just made an indistinct noise which could be interpreted either way.


“Some ladies figured we would be easy pickings so slipped you something, I ain’t never seen it before, and it took you in a quite unexpected way. You were a little upset with me for calling the thing short, and I guess I was butting in where I wasn’t wanted, and good luck to any fella alone with three ladies, but I didn’t think you’d particularly like to lose those fancy knives o’yours, not to mention all our winnings…”


“I remember,” Billy said shortly and Goody gave him a sharp look.


“Remember how much exactly?” he said, a little wary and Billy had to smile at him and wink at him, and even in the poor light from the fire he could see Goody’s blush.


“Ahem, well I see,” he said, clearing his throat, looking away out into the dark. “Well, as long as none of us feel that any virtue has been, uh, unassailable violated, on either side of course, we could perhaps let the episode slide? Me, it was long time since I had any sensibilities to offend but you might still be a. Bit particular. But we could maybe just call this one even? No harm done at the end of the day?”


Goody’s shoulders were hunched on his narrow and uneven frame, and he was fiddling with his sleeves, his eyes averted and Billy didn’t have the heart to press. Besides it was true, no harm done at the end of the day and if Goody was willing to forgive and, more importantly to forget, then Billy wasn't going to bring it up ever again.


“Can't recall too much,” Billy said, which was an outrageous, bald-faced lie but Goody had never been able to tell when he was lying anyway. “But I do apologize if I got a little hasty there.”


“I wouldn’t know about that, I left before…” Goody said and bit his lip, red flooding his cheeks and Billy laughed.


“I was maybe a bit forward” he said cautiously and it was Goody’s turn to laugh.

“If it had been any more forward it would’ve been horizontal,” he chortled. “Now I don't know exactly what kind of raising your mama gave you, but I want you to know I now consider us married men.”


Billy snorted. “I ain't married to nobody until I see a dowry,” he replied and that appeared to close the matter.


No harm no foul, just one party under the influence, who kissed and groped another party who appeared to enjoy it much more than they ought, and now both parties proceed like nothing had happened. Because nothing had.