Fic: Moriarty, one shot
pairing: Per request, this one is Ben/young!Ben. There is also some mention of Ben fantasizing about other individuals.
summary: Ben finally meets a man who understands him.
prompt: from the lostkinkmeme - Ben/young!Ben. Ben wants to spare himself the pain of living in the closet
word count: 4,797
setting: a few days in 1979.
author's notes: I wanted to do justice to this prompt by presenting it as at least slightly realistic, and I hope I accomplished that. There's a lot more than just the Ben/young!Ben relationship, but I felt like it went pretty well. This has not been beta read, all mistakes are mine.
warnings: Sexual content, specifically between an adult and a minor (age fifteen).
His breath emerges in little pants; if dad hears - don't let him hear - quiet - if he finds out it'll all be over. Left hand, fingers splayed over the glossy, sticky magazine, the smiling, welcoming women's faces obscured and wrinkled by his carelessness. Roger's magazine, from his stash, and how will I get it back without him seeing?
Closing his eyes, Ben works himself over. His breath rises from deep in his throat, a grunting, moaning sound that speaks to his desperation. Think of her, of her, he tries. Annie, haloed, no, never. His hand slackens, the wrist cramped. He looks at the rumpled picture on the open page, the one Roger likes, the one Roger wanted. The blonde stares back at him in boredom, her eyes dull and lifeless. She bares her breasts for him - dad first - and her legs are spread intentionally, her back arched in a way he can never imagine Annie emulating. His palm is slick, wet, and he strokes himself harder, desperate for release. Think of her, think of her - but the image that comes to mind is one of Horace. Inside Ben's illuminated mind, Horace smiles, ruffles his hair, and Ben comes hard, all over the magazine he hopes Roger won't miss.
When he's clean again, his bed freshly made and the secret, sweaty sheets heaped in the laundry basket, Ben lays down on his back against the mattress, looking up at the patterns the moonlight makes on his ceiling. His hair is damp, the slightly chemical floral scent of the Dharma issue soap remains on his skin. He stares at the ceiling and thinks of Horace. The memory of the man's welcoming grin makes him hard, and he thinks of all the little liberties he has taken without the older man noticing; sliding in beside him during dinner, his hand accidentally sliding across the leather seat to meet Horace's thigh during a ride in the van. Nothing has ever happened, not for lack of trying. Horace, disappointingly, has remained as oblivious as ever, but maybe that's a good thing. The last thing Ben needs is his father finding out, Roger standing over him with the strap, calling him a queer.
Never, he thinks emphatically. His shoulders shiver involuntarily. Calming himself, he turns his thoughts to Annie. His father may hate him, but Roger's ribbings in that area have never been particularly painful. Good cover, he thinks, and feels immediately guilty for thinking that way about Annie. The truth is, his heart does beat faster when she touches him, though the touches remain innocent. They are both fifteen, and still she has never done anything more than grabbed his hand when they run, or rested her head against his shoulder after a long afternoon taking the boat out. Most of the island boys his age would be angling for something more, but Ben for one is grateful she has never pressed him. He wonders if he could ever lean in to kiss her mouth, or worse; what if she parted her lips? Disgust trails down his spine. Like kissing my mother, he thinks, and then feels even more embarrassed over the magazine and the involuntary thoughts of Horace as he considers the thought that's always in the back of his mind. What if she's watching me?
The following day, it's more of the same. A few of the boys elbow him now, fix him with knowing looks. Annie makes a face in response to their approving nods, and Ben stares down at his books, torn between wanting their approval and wanting to scream the truth. He watches out of the corner of his eye as Annie glances away, hurt, and wonders why he doesn't come to the defence of her reputation. I'm sorry, Annie. He writes the words in his new handwriting - all caps, to give Olivia a hard time - and slips the note onto Annie's desk, temporarily mollifying her. Then he leans back and watches out the window as a twenty-something named Tom, one of the new recruits, chops wood with his shirt off.
"Do you want to take the boat out again?" Annie asks as they leave school side-by-side. "Or we could go down by the beach, watch the new recruits."
Sometimes he dreams of hijacking the submarine, a knife in his teeth and his eyes fixed and glaring, the adults suddenly listening. He can never go home, for home is so many faded memories, with no mother and no friends to return to, but could see the world. Someplace where they would accept - but he cuts off the thought before it even arises, grabbing hold of Annie's hand and holding it tight, like a talisman.
"Let's watch the recruits," he announces, and she beams back at him.
It's the usual scene down by the beach. Four large Dharma vans to drive the newcomers back to the bunkers, the welcome table, get your credentials here. It's 1979. The women are in peasant blouses and hot pants or light gypsy dresses and crochet berets, their fingers weighted with mood rings, which Annie covets. Ben pays more attention to the men, watching the procession of leisure suits and elephant ear pants. Most of the recruits are younger, but the last man to dock is in his forties or early fifties, and his clothes are different from some of the rest. The khaki pants and striped cotton shirt are not as attention getting as the yellow tube top one of the college girls is wearing, but the man gets a few looks. The consensus from the sub is, he must be British.
He gives Ben the eye even as he walks down the dock with more assurance than all the rest combined, neatly sidestepping the loose board and carrying his own satchel rather than loading it into one of the vans where the others have tossed their briefcases and purses.
"You're staring," Annie says, jabbing him, and Ben is distracted for the moment, ducking his head as his cheeks flame pink with embarrassment. "No, it's okay," she adds with a laugh. She points to one of the women. "She's cute."
He is too, Ben thinks before he can stop himself. He actually claps his hand over his mouth to still the words for arising to his lips. "You're beautiful," he says, with the grave sincerity that harkens back to his shier, younger days. Annie smiles and squeezes his fingers. "Come on, we better help drag up the luggage," she adds, suddenly her dad's dutiful daughter.
He nearly collides with the man as he lunges forward after Annie. At the last second, through some complicated gymnastic feat involving the graceless fluttering of his arms and a manoeuvre that twists his ankle, Ben avoids actually hitting the man, but for a fraction of second he comes close enough to actually feel the heat of the man's skin. The man catches his shoulder as he stumbles, and the fingers bite into his flesh with a feeling that is entirely different from pain.
The newcomer ignores this, jerking his head as though troubled with mosquitoes. His eyes, behind glasses that curve just the same as Ben's, seem to gleam for an instant. It's spooky, the way the man sizes him up, and Ben feels shame coursing through him, coupled with an intense and unavoidable awareness of the warm hand still resting on his shoulder.
All of a sudden, it is over. The man releases him and moves on, and Ben finally allows himself to fall, his knees weakening and spilling him onto the grass. Instead of getting up, he lays there, turning over flat on his back, looking up towards the clouds. One thought hums through his head, echoed by his blood. I want him.
"Where the hell you been all day?" Roger demands four hours later as Ben wearily opens the door and steps inside. As is customary, Roger is crashed on the couch, one boot still laced. Four beer cans rest on the coffee table in various states of ruin; the crumples and twists could be called artwork, if Roger were more poetic. "It's dark outside."
I saw a man, Ben thinks. He sometimes feels that Roger can read his mind, can see straight into his brain, for only that would seem to explain how his father can pick out precisely where Ben's weaknesses lie and how to best destroy him, but tonight, Ben feels bold in a way he has rarely experienced. He spoke to me, I followed him home. He does not feel the need to clarify his thoughts, or to remind himself that instead of throwing himself into the newcomer's arms, or even daring to knock on the door and introduce himself, he hid in the bushes. He looked out the window, twice! He must have known I was there.
The thought makes him hard, the muscles clenching in his groin. "Helped bring in the new recruits," Ben says, forgetting that his father hates it when it makes himself sound important.
Roger stops him before he is even halfway down the hallway. These fingers bite, and Ben winces as his father jerks him backwards, pushing him roughly against the wall. Roger's touch will leave bruises. "Did I tell you that you were excused?" Roger demands. His breath stinks of stale beer, and Ben averts his face, closing his eyes, wondering when the blows will fall.
"I'm sorry!" It comes out more childish than he wants it to, his voice high pitched with fright.
"Yeah, I'll make you sorry," Roger adds, but he seems tired and dizzy, and the beer calls from the other room. "Wash these dishes," he demands, and Ben feels himself released. "Did you get that laundry done yet, Ben?"
Ben nods, heat rising to his cheeks. "I'll do it."
"You better," Roger says; his last. He saunters off, toward the couch, and Ben stands still in the hallway, his heart cycling madly and his hands trembling.
When he finally makes it to his bedroom, hours later, Ben drops onto his knees. There are no locks in the little house; they go against the inclusiveness, open, free love attitudes the first Dharma workers believed in. Instead, Ben pushes a chair against the door, concentrating intently on sliding the edge of the back under the knob. Roger has only rarely entered his room, but Ben can take no chances.
When it is finally secure, he slips out of his trousers, leaving on the grass-stained Dharma t-shirt he most often wears to school. It bears his name above the heart, accompanied by the generic logo, and in every picture of him taken since he was eight, he has worn one like it. He slides into bed, tears smarting in his eyes as he thinks of his hatred for his father, this place. When am I going to get away?
He runs his hands over his nude lower body, closing his eyes so he can pretend his own hands are someone else's. He has been working with his father some lately, and feels the new callousness of his skin as his palms slide over his thighs and belly, finally reaching his target. Tonight there is no pretence. The sheet over his face is damp from his breath, warm from the jungle air, and still smells like the medicinal laundry soap the initiative issues. Ben ignores it, thinking of the man from the boat, whose eyes stared into his own, electric.
Ben arches his back, his fingers slick as they engulf him. Biting his lips so not to cry out - everything must be conducted in utter silence - he coaxes himself to arousal within seconds, first picturing Horace, as he usually does, then turning his attention back to the stranger. He grows harder thinking of ice blue eyes and the heat of the man's hand on his shoulder, the lets his fantasies run wild, imagining himself being kissed, being touched, his body thoroughly pleasured by the man from the submarine.
A sudden knock at the door brings him back to reality. In horror, Ben watches as the doorknob twists, first to the left, then to the right. Oh, God, he thinks, and then, my pants. He leaps down onto the floor and collects his trousers, hastily donning them and raking his sweat-sodden hair back from his reddened face. He wonders how much Roger heard. How long was he standing there, listening? There is no time to debate the issue, however, for the pounding against the door frame grows louder, more instant, and he can hear his father's voice out there in the hall, mingling with several others.
"Ben!" Roger exclaims as Ben finally gets the chair out of the way. The bedroom door flies open with extreme force, catching Ben across the face, and he steps back, making a small sound of pain as he presses his hand against his injured cheek. "What the hell where you - never mind," he decides gruffly. Horror of horrors, Horace is standing meekly in the living room, his hands folded and his expression grave. For a terrible moment, Ben wonders if he knows. Then Roger shakes him.
"Hostiles in camp," Roger shouts in Ben's face. "We've gotta -"
"I'll take him, Roger. Just get the supplies to the van, now," Horace interjects.
Ben finds himself passed down the hall to Horace's side, but the man is too distracted and upset to ruffle his hair, or stroke his injured cheek. The air outside is brisk, and slaps him a second time as he follows alongside Horace. No one notices that he walks barefoot over the dew-damp grass, or that the top button of his trousers is undone. Ben doubts they would notice him now even if he screamed the truth about his desires at the top of his voice over the loudspeaker service. The bunkers are a cacophony of noise: women screaming, men shouting, babies crying. Engines are being gunned, and somewhere in the brush, guns are being fired.
"Keep close to me, Ben," Horace instructs, and Ben, who would never have a difficult time following that particular directive, does exactly what he is told. Horace takes his hand, like he is a little boy, but Ben offers no complaint as they dart in between the houses. In the distance, the sky is orange and sparks rise; Hostiles. "We had a report of a breach hours ago," Horace mumbles, shaking his head. "We sent two people out to check on a possible break, but everything came back clear. Should have known something like this -"
"Where are we going?"
As if noticing Ben for the first time, Horace's eyes widen. "I'm heading out to the line. With any luck, I'll be able to talk directly to Richard." Richard! Ben thinks, something within him bursting. He envisions the man, and shudders, but not with fear. "Someone out there must be in command. We have a few captives - I've got to get you to safety first."
"One of the stations?"
Horace shakes his head. "No time." He points towards one of the last houses, closest to the beach. "A couple of the new recruits were assigned these houses. It's a real drag to force them to engage on their first night in, but like LaFleur said -"
Ben never discovers exactly what LaFleur said, for a sudden explosion muffles Horace's words. "What?"
They run the house, past a screaming group of newcomer women. The tube top girl has wet hair and is draped in a towel, screaming her head off, but Ben ignores the scene, concentrating instead on the man standing on the lawn two houses past. "Him?"
"Mr Moriarty!" Horace calls out. "Take him. I have to - keep cover -" He pushes Ben forward, then darts off, vanishing amongst the crowd of frantic Dharma.
"Get inside," the man instructs as Ben approaches on numb legs. He pauses for a moment, surveying the fights in the distance. Unlike the other new arrivals, he does not seem afraid whatsoever. In fact, his stoicism trumps even that of some long-term island residents, as though he has seen it all before.
Ben pauses in the doorway, looking out. He can hear the crackle of gunfire not too far away. "Aren't you coming?"
The man smiles vaguely, shaking himself slightly as though caught in the middle of a daydream. Ben himself knows the feeling well. "Yes," the man agrees, and together, they walk into the house.
"Can I get you a drink?" There's a slight smirk on the man's lips, and when Ben looks closer, he can identify pale slivers; scars. The man has had his lip split before. And his nose has been broken, Ben surmises, inexplicably proud of himself for recognising it. It is a symbol he has always admired, borne by those more brash and fearless than he will ever be.
"Coffee, lemonade?" the man asks, interrupting the reverie.
Ben shakes his head. "No thanks - er, Mr Moriarty." He sits down gingerly on the couch. It's the same as the one that occupies his own house, just one more item from a large furniture buyout the Dharma directors in Ann Arbor had undertaken to supply the houses. This one is newer, and the house still smells, almost cleanly, of a fresh coat of paint.
At this the man smiles a bit wider. "Dean, please," he corrects baldly, and as if he knows something in Ben's brain twitches, he nods slowly. Ignoring the refusal, he pours some lemonade, from the Dharma concentrate; it'll be sticky, sweet, cloying and flavoured of chemicals, Ben knows, but he accepts the glass anyway.
The man retreats a step and then pauses, ostensibly gazing out the window. The attack rages far beyond the little yellow houses, the sounds of screaming muffled by the tall trees, the gunfire bursting bright lights through the jungle tangles. His posture leaves him vulnerable to observation, and Ben stares boldly, sweat breaking out on his skin even as he clutches the chilled beverage against his chest.
"Your name is Dean Moriarty? Like - like the book?"
The man rewards him with an amused flash of blue eyes before he draws the curtains and retreats to one of the chairs. "You're the first one to ask," he says, which is, of course, not really an answer.
"Nobody else here reads," Ben says before he can stop himself. The disdain is heavy in his voice, and panic rises to his mind. Don't get caught. He thinks of Richard; be patient. The last thing he needs is to give himself away. Forcing a shrug, he stares down at his hands. Still, he cannot help himself his derision. They fuck, he thinks, testing out the crudeness of the word. He narrows his eyes thinking of all the ladies he has stumbled across, their macramé discarded, their micro-dresses hiked up and one of the grunting young scientists, slick polyester trousers down, mounting them on top the planning tables.
The man - Moriarty, though there is nothing Neal Cassady about him except his posture, the hand-in-hip-pocket self-conscious self-assurance - nods gravely, trying a sip of the boxed wine. His expression betrays disgust. "I know," he speaks, finally. Then " - Ben?"
But Ben is already half-way across the room, drawn like a moth to flame, or a boy to one man who seems to have a glimmer of truth.
The man is a stranger. Less than a stranger; a liar. That does not stop Ben from fixing his blue-green eyes on the man's equally tinted irises and deriving acceptance from the expression. Moriarty, whoever he is, does not seem the sort to grant acceptance easily. There is a wall up, but Ben feels it crumble as he lifts the wineglass from the man's hand and samples the drink for himself. It is not his first taste of wine, and the poor vintage will assault his palate again, more often than he can count, but this sip, the wine tastes sweet, ambrosia. Ben closes his eyes, imagining the man's lips, but her jerks them open a second later as the man pulls him forward.
It's not just that he's fifteen, and hopelessly awkward, overwrought with hormones. He is gay - yes, that dreaded word, that death sentence - and isolated, hopelessly alone on an island with a handful of kids his age who will never understand and one girl who would love him if he could let her, though he knows he cannot. Devoid of experience, he meets the man Moriarty's mouth with a hasty crush of lips, so urgent the kiss bruises them both.
For a second, Ben recoils, hideously embarrassed, the lovely butterflies of a moment ago now raging bats, their sonar disabled, crashing and rebounding off the cave that is his stomach. He pulls back, but there is a hand slipping into his waistband, a second stroking his hair, and though shame burns red on his skin, he cannot possibly fight off the desire. Anyway, he thinks, as though it might excuse him, my knees are too weak to walk.
Somehow they end up in the hallway. At home, the walls are lined with pictures - Emily's shrine, which Roger passes swiftly and where Ben worships moodily most days, filled with guilt for being angry at her dying on him. In Moriarty's house, the walls are blank, a pure white backdrop to their desire. The man pushes Ben up against the wall, his fingers splayed over Ben's cock, his insistent mouth nipping at Ben's neck. Ben's mind is a whirl of confusion. Desire, burning, coaxes him to shift his legs a millimetre apart as the man undoes his trousers. He is wearing no underwear; they were forgotten in the haste of dressing, but the man does not comment. His fingers, damp from the humidity and their exploits, close around Ben's cock and stroke him to firmness in a matter of seconds.
I shouldn't - I don't - Ben thinks. All that emerges from his mouth, when the man pulls back and finally allows him to breathe, are shallow, desperate pants. He is vaguely aware of his own shaking hands as they trail over the man's shoulders, clutching his back and dragging him forward. His eyes flutter shut as the man continues to kiss him, administering a sharp love bite to his shoulder. There is no bared blonde now, no incriminating mental images of Annie, only Moriarty, or whoever the man is. He lacks Horace's gentleness, but there is something familiar about him anyway. For a moment, Ben tries to puzzle it out, just how the stranger can know to touch him - oh, there - but then he finds himself on his knees on the carpet, the man-made fabrics raising a burn on his stomach as the man wrenches his legs apart, and coherent thought ends up in short supply.
Oh God, he thinks, and then, it hurts. It does hurt, the wrenching of the man inside his body - this is real, after all, so different from a thousand vivid fantasies - but the hand working his cock in a strange technique both firm and gentle, - how I do it myself, Ben thinks, for one gasping, vindicated millisecond - coaxes away the worse of it. Ben bites down on his own arm, where tomorrow he will sport a purple bruise in the shape of teeth as the man presses himself deeper. The friction increases, and sweat pours from his skin. He feels a familiar build of pleasure, though it is stronger than he has experienced it before, and for the first time he does not think of Horace or Richard while on the brink of orgasm, but of the stranger's face, letting the image of the blue eyes sting him before he bucks, overwhelmed, and comes desperately over the man's hand.
The next day, the bunkers are in ruins. Three posts are missing from the sonar fence, meaning just anything - what, exactly? - could venture in. The school building still stands unharmed, but four of the houses have been burned to the ground, and a good deal of the food stock has been stolen. Two boats are gone as well, leaving the Dharma Initiative a single outrigger, a small ferry and the submarine as their only means of transportation two and from the island. No one has reports about damage sustained to the Hydra, though everyone fears an attack must have occurred there, for the radio has been silent since nightfall and no one has yet returned with the outrigger or the ferry. The air is permeated with smoke from the fires, and the ground is studded with bullets which the children - not Ben - collect and pore over with great interest, each embellishing their role in last night's skirmish, until it gets to the point where one particularly vocal child claims to have killed a dozen Hostiles.
The food and boats are gone, and with them the stranger, the so-called Moriarty. Horace finds Ben at breakfast and leads him to a shady spot outside, where he is interrogated in Horace's earnest, friendly way. Despite this, and the fact he wants to help, Ben has no answers. "I fell asleep," Ben says, quite truthfully, though he does not report on the circumstances that led him to more or less collapse on Moriarty's bed. At least I was dressed, he thinks as Horace leans over him urgently, his face far too innocent. He must have done it. That kindness, Ben feels he will be eternally grateful for.
The consensus is that Moriarty defected. Ben hears some of the workmen, his father's co-workers, discussing it at lunch. Roger himself is nowhere to be found, at least not by any Dharma worker; Ben himself knows Roger is parked up on the ridge, indulging in his second six-pack of the day. A number of others are gone, and to quell the rising panic, LaFleur, Horace's head of security, announces that it's unlikely any of the Hostiles would be taking hostages. Rather, he explains, a number of individuals, particularly the newcomers, who make up the bulk of the missing, were frightened by the occurrence and scattered into the jungle to hide. Jim is a nice guy, but Ben knows better than to believe they will see many returnees. Richard sent them, he realises now, with a burst of pride. He got them on the inside. That fence couldn't keep them out.
In the late afternoon, when Annie returns home on strict parental orders - who knows when danger will strike a second time - Ben returns to Moriarty's house. The man spent but a single night there, but made his impression nonetheless; Ben can feel him, up against the walls. No sign of the battle is evident here. Ben lingers over the half-drunk wineglass, finally finishing off the swallow of stale liquid before dutifully rinsing the glass and returning it to the cupboard. He finds the satchel in the bedroom, empty. If it ever had anything inside, the contents are gone now. A few shirts remain hanging on wire hangers, but the bulk of the luggage is missing, too. Ben presses his nose against the fabric, inhaling the scent of the man whose passage from his life should have been unnoticed. Spy, he thinks, and cannot help the smile that rises to his lips. Like me.
There is a shadow on the wall, and for a moment, Ben jerks back from the closet, humiliated. Then he spins around, tearing down two of the hangers in the process and nearly toppling back into the closet. A man stares in through the window, a man whose dark hair has been trimmed but who is otherwise just the same as Ben's memory has recorded him. Richard is even wearing the same shirt, though it is substantially more worn and faded, and his eyes speak of new atrocities, accompanied by the same weariness.
He came for me. Ben nods as Richard slips back into the jungle. Heart pounding, he carefully piles the remaining clothes in his backpack and smoothes the rumpled bed covers, until the place looks just as unlived in and abandoned as it did before Moriarty's arrival. He could have been a ghost, Ben thinks, darkly amused. No one even noticed him. Then he leaves that place, closes the door behind him and steps out into the sunshine, checking to be sure no one is watching before he follows Richard's invisible path, losing himself among the hot press of the jungle.