Characters: Daniel Janños Germain and Maxwell Clark
Genre: Comfort with a little D/s symbolism and spirituality
Rating/Warnings: R, for language and sexual implications
Word Count: 3258
Disclaimers: This is a work of fiction, any resemblance to people living or dead is coincidence. Copyright 2010 by Liralen Li. All rights reserved, other than the ones LJ needs to distribute this thing as I've published it here.
Author's Note: This is a side piece to the novel that demented_dee and I wrote. We did a read-along for the Y!Gallery community last night that went quite well, and this is kind of a sideview for those that couldn't be in on that. Darkprism has read this and approved Clark's actions in this piece. I don't intend to "publish" this story anywhere but online.
For me the novel is a romance between two people who, through life circumstance and personality, have become rather hardened against emotional involvement. Meeting each other, and a set of new circumstances finally lets them allow someone to love them. That they're two men is... well... part and parcel of the whole problem. *laughs softly* I don't think of it as porn, as there's a lot of depth to both characters and the plot is very character driven. It's more like one of the het romances I've read where the explicit sex is a part of the character development.
So I'll persist in calling it a romance, and stick to my guns on that. *laughs* Anyway... I hope you enjoy this little interlude.
Daniel Jaños Germain looked at himself in the mirror. The white suit, red shirt, and white silk tie would have overwhelmed most of other men's complexions. The lightness and intensity of color only brought out the brown of his skin, the curling gloss of his black hair grown long to cover the scars, the sharpness of his cheekbones, and the deep dark blue of his eyes. Less than a month had gone by since the shooting, and he wanted to look good for the photo shoots Daniel knew would happen by his parents' grave.
"Daniel? You ready?" Daniel turned at the sound of his lover's voice and smiled. The tall man with a shock of grey unruly hair was wide-shouldered and as lean as a swimmer. He looked handsome and more somber than usual in full dress uniform. There wasn't much to distinguish one Maxwell Clark, bartender, from the run-of-the-mill ex-Army sergeant, but for a few patches and medals. Still, Daniel's fingers lightly touched each one that marked his lover as a former member of Special Forces.
Clark chuckled and looked at him with mismatched eyes, one blue, one brown. "Hey, you ready to go?"
"Just about. I need to ask you for one thing," Daniel said, his hands going into his pockets to find the slender ribbons of paper.
"And what is that, Professor?" Clark's straight, military stance didn't change an iota, but something in his eyes made Daniel feel like his lover had just braced himself.
Taking a deep breath, Daniel said, "May I collar and leash you? Under your uniform so that no one can see, and I'll take them off just before the Veteran's Cemetery."
The firming of that mobile mouth and the slightest flare of Clark's nostrils let Daniel know that his request had touched something deep within the man before him. Daniel moved forward to lean a little against Clark's hard strength. He felt his lover's arms automatically go around him and then hold him close. "I need to give something back to the dead, and disconnect a hold he still has on my world. If you wear it for just as long as it takes us to get there, it will count as a tie I can unbind."
Daniel felt Clark's jaw press against his hair. Neither of them needed to say his name.
Soft words floated down. "Anything for you, Daniel." And Clark released him.
So Daniel took a step back, and he quickly pulled loose the neatly tied Windsor knot on Clark's tie, just loose enough to unbutton the crisp white shirt collar beneath. He pulled the strips of paper from his pocket.
"Paper?" Clark asked, sounding bemused.
"Yeah, I'm not going to try burning silk or leather," Daniel said absentmindedly as he wrapped the half-inch wide red paper collar about Clark's throat. His touches made skin shiver under his fingers, and Daniel had to swallow the rising heat within him as he worked the strip so that it was flush but not so tight as to cut into his skin. Daniel pressed the adhesive closed against a fast pulse and felt more than heard the quick intake of breath.
Unable to stop himself and realizing that Clark might need the reassurance as well, Daniel touched his chin and kissed him deeply. The sound of near helplessness almost completely undid Daniel and he moaned softly into the kiss. Gently, very gently, he broke the kiss. "My good Sergeant," he said softly. "Buck up. We'll get through this and then I'll let you screw me into a wall, well away from any reporters."
Daniel then pressed the adhesive he'd fixed to the paper leash to the center of the collar and he pulled Clark's shirt from his pants and pulled the lead down the front of the shirt, happy with how the bulk of the tie hid the paper easily and well. He tucked the handle of the paper leash into the pants pocket, and then undid Clark's fly to tuck the shirt back in around the lead. He got an amused smirk from Clark.
"All right what are you thinking?" Daniel asked as he redid Clark's fly, tie, and coat; and stepped back to check all his handiwork.
Promptly Clark answered his request, "That a blow job's always good for the nerves, Sir."
Daniel smiled and bit his lower lip at the "Sir". He realized that Clark was collared and leashed and following both the usual strictures to be quiet unless spoken to, and that Clark was calling him by his title that they'd only used now and again.
But the commentary was pure Clark and that reassured Daniel in a way nothing else could. "True, but we're running out of time, Clark. Please do feel free to speak as you wish."
Even as Clark gave him a small nod to acknowledge the lifting of the restriction, Clark said, "In front of those piranha? No thanks. I'll let you do the talking for this one, Sir."
Daniel took Clark's hand and nodded. It was unusual for Clark to want Daniel to do the talking, but given the circumstances this felt appropriate. "Right."
"And the limo driver just called, Sir. He's out front." Clark's drawl was amused, but his hand tightened just enough on Daniel's that Daniel sighed in regret at not being able to take Clark up on his offer to ease both their nerves. Daniel picked up the backpack he'd prepared and stepped out of the door.
The limousine was, indeed, out front and flanked by one TV van and a car. This was not one of Lucian's, but one that Daniel had rented simply to not have to deal with all this and drive as well. The big car moved smoothly away from the curb and Daniel leaned against Clark, who put an arm around him and held him, and for a while Daniel felt safe from the world.
It was a short ride to the Red Oaks Memorial Park on the outskirts of the city. It was small, inexpensive, and a great number of New Amsterdam's Finest and their families had plots here. The police department had, a century ago, cut a deal with the owners. The maintenance fees from that large a group made the deal well worthwhile to the family that still owned the cemetery.
There was a huge crowd of reporters and photographers around the gravesite of Daniel's parents. His parents were murdered over twenty eight years ago, while both on a case for the police, and the memory of what they'd done blended so well with what Daniel had done barely a month ago, that it was just too tempting for the media folks not to cover. So Daniel played it up, slowing to let them take pictures of him cleaning the graves, and putting the fresh bunch of calla lilies on his Mom's grave, the bullet casing the forensics folks had found from the shooting on his Dad's. When his Aunt and Uncle, who retired from the force five years ago, showed up as well, he gave them hugs to the popping of camera flashes in all directions.
Daniel felt Clark's watchful shadow at his back, and was grateful. He had publicized this part of their trip, hoping it would appease everyone. They had discussed the fact that Daniel also opened the door for anyone that wanted to just take him out simply for existing, surviving events others had not.
After he gave a gentle statement commemorating all those who had died, and especially those who died in the service of the city and the country, Daniel gathered up the media folks. Addressing all of them, he said, "This is for off camera, folks." And Daniel waited until everyone at least made the show of turning off their equipment. "I've given you what you want here. I'd like for you to just have this be all she wrote. I have to make another visit to another cemetery and I'd like you to remember I've done you well by this one, and I'd like to be left alone for the other."
"You can't gag us!" Shouted one little guy wearing a pretentious beret. Most of the reporters rolled their eyes at him, and Daniel knew that the majority of them would do as he asked. Daniel glanced at Clark and saw those mismatched eyes memorizing every detail of the one that had shouted. They'd know where and who he was.
"No, and I have no desire to do so," Daniel said smoothly, marveling in just how comfortable he now was in front of so many people and knowing at least one camera wasn't actually turned off. "I'm simply making a request to be given a decent amount of space and time to pay my respects to those who have died for their country. That's all."
"No problem, Mr. Germain," said Sally Hopkins from the New Amsterdam Times. She was one of the most respected reporters in the city and most took their lead from her. "We got what we wanted for our feature for today, and thank you for your cooperation this morning."
Daniel gave her a small bow. "Thank you." He smiled and waved to the rest and headed back to the limo. Clark followed a minute later, and got himself into the other side of the car, and then slouched on the seats. "There were two others, Sir, that are running for their vans."
"Mm… out of nearly two dozen crews that's not too bad," Daniel said softly.
Clark just grunted and then slid so that Daniel could hold him. "We're really going…"
Daniel just nodded against his hair. "You don't have to do anything but stand there and watch out for me if you want. I'll be spending an equal time at each grave."
Letting out a slow sigh, Clark nodded. "Nothing to distinguish…"
"Right. Nothing. I'll leave nothing recognizable at any of the sites, other than a flag, which is traditional. It'll be the same flag at all three." Daniel said softly into Clark's hair.
Clark heaved a slow sigh and moved a little restlessly against Daniel, and Daniel soothed his lover as best as he was able until they came to the Veteran's Cemetery of New Amsterdam. Clark's uniform was not out of place here, not nearly as out of place as Daniel's glaringly bright colors; but Gran Gran insisted that these were the right colors for a gypsy funeral, that these were the things he had to do to free himself and his lover completely from the ghost. So he would do as she told him and he would do it right.
Just before they got there, he said, "I need your collar, Clark."
Clark moved close to him and leaned against Daniel. Daniel took Clark's clothing apart again and took off the paper collar and leash. With gentle fingers he put it all back together again and gave Clark another slow kiss. The kiss made him shudder, and Daniel held him until they arrived at the gate. Daniel then carefully folded the leash and collar and put them in an empty cigarette pack while Clark watched wordlessly.
When they arrived, Daniel pulled the backpack out from under the seat, tucked the now filled cigarette package into it, and took it with him.
At the gate, Daniel bought three American flags from a girl collecting for the local Veteran's Fund, and paid five dollars each though they only asked a single. He handed the flags to Clark and spoke in a low voice. Clark had impressed upon him often enough that a whisper carried further than words spoke in a low tone, so he used that knowledge. "Where are they?"
"Two behind us in the parking lot, one at two o'clock, one at nine," Clark said it as if it were some joke, the droll humor evident in the set of his shoulders and the spread of his hands.
So Daniel laughed and then walked toward the graves. There were three graves next to each other, as the three bodies had been brought back at the same time Clark had been brought back, wounded in mind and body. Daniel had seen the black and white photos of that funeral and he studied the names on all three.
Daniel set a flag at each of the graves, in the holders that were usually used on this day; and he cleaned all the debris off all three, stuffing bits of trash and old leaves into a plastic bag he'd brought. There were fresh flowers at one of the graves. Someone had already come, and given that all three families were still in the area, others would likely see what Daniel left as well.
From his pack, Daniel pulled a small bronze brazier with handles and set it up at the grave to the right, put the kindling and wood pieces into it and started it alight with a stick lighter. He rummaged through his pack and pulled out one pack of cigarettes with no filters, and one of three sheaves of small denomination bills. He stood for a long minute, head bowed, thinking of nothing but freedom from sorrow and pain, respect for the loss of a life in service. Then Daniel tossed the cigarettes and folded bills onto the fire, a burned offering to someone long dead. A cutting of ties.
Daniel moved the small brazier by the handles to the second grave and did the same thing, timing himself to keep the amount of time the same as at the first site.
At the third, Daniel tried to keep all the motions the same, but this time he said a small prayer in his head, knowing that trained microphones and video cameras might be on him. The prayer would be enough. In his head, Daniel carefully said the following:
Thank you for your gift, Brian. Thank you for handing over Clark to my keeping and care in my dream. I am thankful for your service, and sorrowful for your loss; but he's mine now. You need to let go, so I'm giving you back your leash, giving back your collar that you gave with the tiger in my arms. I'm also giving you a tiger in return so that you might have what is yours.
I'll keep the man for my own and thank you for that, but we need to cut loose the ties, cut loose the hold you had on him. As my Gran Gran would have said: Stay away from the living for this is no longer thy world, no longer thy place. I will give you what is your due, but take no more.
With that Daniel tossed the cigarette pack with the paper collar and leash in it on the fire and watched it burn. In the money, he had put a paper tiger, folded from origami; and the whole sheaf burned bright amid the now hot coals of the brazier.
Daniel checked his time and he had half a minute more, and so he stood there thinking and thankful of fires and flames that burned away the cold and hard ice of his own existence. Then he took two steps back to find Clark looking anywhere but at the graves.
"I'm done," Daniel said lowly. "Maybe we can find some water to put the fire out? I just have one drinking water bottle here."
"Maybe empty that onto it first, and I'll find a refill?" Clark asked, his voice and manner so cheerful and smiling that Daniel ached to just hold him.
"Sure," Daniel said, and emptied the bottle over the coals, which hissed and spat and steamed.
Daniel repacked his pack as Clark loped off and then came back with a five gallon bucket as well as a refilled water bottle, and Daniel watched as Clark simply dumped the small brazier into the bucket. The dirtied water bubbled, steamed, and then stilled. They walked together to the Memorial's main house, and dumped the wet ash and coals into a garbage can.
"Are they gone?" Daniel asked lowly.
"Yeah," Clark said huffing a slow sigh. "The dumpster isn't exactly where they'd want to be seen, but you can be sure one of those guys is going to try and search the remains."
"Luckily nothing's left," Daniel said with a slow smile. "Well, I made sure nothing was left."
It wasn't until they were both back in the limo that Clark half crawled into Daniel's lap and Daniel held him close and tight. And so close to Daniel's ear that he felt the breath of each word, Clark whispered, "He's safe, right?"
"Right." Daniel said as softly into his hair. "Right. Nothing we did will be able to trace anything back to him. And you know what I told him?"
"You told him…?" Clark sounded confused.
"I told him to leave you alone. You're mine now," Daniel said, low and amused at himself. "I burned the collar and leash he used to give you to me in a dream, because the dead should have their due. But he's not due you anymore. You're mine."
The writhing motion through Clark's body turned Daniel on so hard and so fast he felt dizzy. "You're… you're jealous of a ghost?" Clark asked in wonder. "You…"
"I needed to make you mine, Clark. I promised."
The slow shudder through Clark's lean frame made all the precautions, all the preparation, all the worry suddenly worth it in Daniel's mind. He pulled his lover close and held him tight and felt Clark cling to him in a way that made Daniel's breath shorten and quicken. "So, about that blow job, oh Clark of mine, what do you say to me giving you one now?"
Clark swallowed what Daniel swore was going to be a moan. "If I may, Sir?"
"Certainly," Daniel answered even as he watched his Clark solidify and become himself, title or no.
Clark smiled a sly grin. "I'd rather service you, and then take you up on that reward you offered to start.” The grin grew hungry. “If that pleases you, Sir.”
Daniel laughed. "That would please me very much, but I think I'd rather not frighten the driver, and take it into our bedroom instead of here, Sergeant."
"As you wish, Professor. Anything." The look in Clark's eyes made Daniel's mouth go dry.
Daniel touched his lips to Clark's. "I do so wish," he said against his mouth.
As strength met strength in a kiss, Daniel's eyes closed at the heat. With each sure touch, he understood that as much as he might own Clark, Clark owned and kept him as well. For all that Brian's ghost had held Clark apart from all else for so long, Daniel finally felt like he really could heal his lover of that terrible past.
With each day, action, and word they shared, Daniel became more real for Clark, even as Clark became more essential for Daniel. The nightmares had become fewer for the sergeant, even in the month they'd been together, and the episodes had lessened in their severity. Perhaps the ghost would leave to become just memory, leave Clark for him.
Gran Gran would have said that that was as it should be, ghosts should leave the living to do their thing. As the limo pulled up to Daniel's small house, Clark's hand closed about his and Daniel couldn't agree more.
Just leave us to our living.