Summary: Even now, after all these months, Dan had a way of watching him with this sort of controlled dread in his expression,
like he was waiting to see what Duck wanted or expected or was disappointed by.
For the lovely ms. Pearl-O, who wanted Wilby fic.
Duck had started smoking because it gave him something to do with his hands. Duck had kept smoking because he found he thought better with a cigarette in his hand, with smoke in his lungs. Something about it kept him centered, kept him focused. Besides, he liked the little rituals of it: the safe, satisfied feeling of having a full pack of cigarettes in your pocket. Tamping down a new pack, tearing the cellophane off, shaking out that first cigarette. The snap of a good lighter opening, the flame, and that first pull off a fresh cigarette. How the smoke felt like it was easing his lungs.
Sure, it was bad for you, but for all the good that came with it? Duck figured it was a decent trade off.
Smoking gave him something to do, and it had a way of easing the tension sometimes - not just for him, but in general. Even now, after all these months, Dan had a way of watching him with this sort of controlled dread in his expression, like he was waiting to see what Duck wanted or expected or was disappointed by. He'd put on the fake smile whenever Duck looked right at him, the one that never reached his eyes. Like that smile would ever convince anybody who was really looking that nothing was wrong, everything was fine.
When that happened, Duck would slip the pack of cigarettes out of his pocket, take his time shaking one out, finding his lighter, getting the cigarette lit just right. He'd just sit, smoking and waiting and watching. Usually by the time Duck snapped the lighter shut and let out a long, smooth stream of smoke, Dan would have shaken it off, relaxed his shoulders just a little, and leaned back - in the kitchen chair, or on the porch step, or wherever they were.
Duck, in the back of his mind, thought this was good. This was Dan figuring it out, that Duck wasn't wanting or expecting or waiting for things to slip out of place. That Duck was just - living. Waiting to see how it all came out. You couldn't plan everything, you couldn't control things, and if you tried, most times you just ended up screwing it up.
Better to just take a second. Light a cigarette, and breathe, and see how things played out. Instinct, potential, all wrapped together, and Duck knew - in his gut, he knew - that this was playing itself out. They'd see, he and Dan, they'd figure things out, and they had to just take it a little bit at a time.
He slouched back against the wall outside of the video store, turning the collar up on his coat. It was getting cold in the evenings, now. After he lit his cigarette, he stuck his hands in his pockets, breathed out smoke through his nose. Cars rumbled past on the street, and Duck tilted his head to keep the smoke out of his eyes as he watched them roll by.
Marty across the way had said he was pretty much done fixing the brake line on his truck - said he needed just a few more minutes. Dan'd close up soon, and they'd get the truck, head back to Duck's place. Duck shut his eyes for a second - they were a little inland here, but if you listened close enough, you could hear the waves still.
Something nudged against his shoulder, and he opened his eyes, grinned at Dan leaning there against the wall next to him. Dan was wearing a gray spring jacket that was too thin for the breeze making its way up the twisted streets from the bay, but he didn't look cold. He smiled a little, his hair falling over his forehead, and Duck tilted sideways to nudge his shoulder back. "All locked up?"
"All set." Dan paused for a second, looking at Duck in that way that told him that his gut was right. It was his easy look, no wariness or worry. This was something, this was surely something. "Let's get out of here, yeah? The truck set?"
"Yeah, should be by now." Duck pushed forward off the wall, slanted a grin at Dan. "C'mon, let's head home." He took one last drag and threw the cigarette away half-smoked. Dan was right beside him, his arm brushing against Duck's as they ambled across the street to get the truck.
(Later on the couch, with the TV flickering dimly, he pushed Dan gently back and Dan's hands eagerly tugged him down. Duck slid his hand to cup the back of Dan's neck as he slowly unbuttoned Dan's shirt with his other hand. Dan was panting lightly and his eyes were closed, but his lips had the happy look to them. Not pulled down or tight, but relaxed and searching for Duck's mouth. Duck lowered his head, pushing Dan's unbuttoned shirt aside, and kissed him, kept kissing him. Pressed him down against the couch and felt Dan's hands curl tight in his shirt, tugging him close, holding him there.)
(Later still, after Duck pulled himself off the couch and turned off the TV, plunging the room into quiet darkness, he took Dan to bed with him. They lay close, curled up under the covers, and Dan's eyes kept closing in the still darkness of the quiet bedroom, and still Duck kept kissing him, soft kisses on Dan's parted lips, his hand curved over Dan's hip. Dan's head was tilted so he could meet Duck's mouth, kissing him back sleepy and relaxed, but kissing him back all the same.)
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