almosthonorable: (bedhead)
[ "cunning is more fun." ]


Ben kisses the warm curve of Fira's shoulder, and breathes a sated sigh into her skin.

"Maybe I should be forgetful more often."
almosthonorable: (mine is an evil laugh)
[ "Now, Sparklehead, don't you know it's armageddon out here?" ]


Ben's tired.

His arms are heavier than iron, and his breathing is labored.

But Jesus Christ and all twelve disciples, it's not like he can just quit fighting these swarms of monsters and demons.

So he fires every bullet he can finagle; he attacks with the pike until it snaps in a mammoth, razored mouth; he resorts to fists and elbows and feet; and, when he's driven back, and back, and back by a fire-spitting serpent, he finds himself near the forge once more.

He dives inside, and hefts the first weapon his fingers close around: a samurai sword, as beautiful as it is deadly.

But Ben has precious little time to appreciate the aesthetics. He has a serpent to behead.

He doesn't expect to be thrown backward upon the kill stroke, as if he's ignited a powder keg by mistake.

Hurtling through the air, Ben twists, and — 

shit damn shit shit shit shit


— he's sailing into the forge, headed for a workbench covered in all manner of sharp, certain death.










Two heartbeats later, he blinks in the Texas sun.

He's standing just outside the Acme, sword still in hand.

He doesn't feel like an overgrown pin cushion, but he takes stock of himself, all the same.
almosthonorable: (double-checkin')
[ two weeks prior, or, once upon a time in El Paso ]

Ben's coated in sweat and grime from a fourteen-hour day when he walks into the bar.

Just across the threshold, he pauses.

This is ...

Well.

It's certainly more surreal than usual.

Stepping over and around debris — and taking care to avoid knocking into see-through patrons — Ben picks his way across the bar proper. Amid the general mayhem, a tinny, crackling song plays from what has to be a phonograph, maybe hidden somewhere in the rafters.

"Now that is unsettlin'," Ben mutters to himself.

As if on an eerie-ass cue, the floor tilts beneath his boots.

He grunts, and catches his balance with the help of a nearby stool. Righting himself, he notices the glowing red gem hovering over the counter.

"All right, you've got me," he says to Bar. "Color me curious."

A moment later, his battered brown hat is gone, and he's sporting a rough-hewed pair of decidedly feline ears.

He holds back a sigh.

"That is what killed the cat, as the sayin' goes."
almosthonorable: (infamous)
[ "I'm just here lookin' for steady work, and prayin' I find it." ]


Blending in is almost too easy.

Simple is as simple does: Under the name Thomas Cowan, Ben takes care not to dress too fine, or too raggedy. The pistol he wears at his hip is plain, nowhere near the quality of his beloved Colt. After a haircut, and without his customary beard, he looks almost nothing akin to his wanted posters or those damned dime-novel likenesses.

Four days after he rents his room at the Acme — two days after a profitable bartending shift in Milliways — he accepts just the job he was hoping to land.

Thomas Cowan, widower and former rancher, is now a carpenter in the employ of the Southern Pacific Railroad.
almosthonorable: (baleful)
The basket's a pleasant surprise.

Ben's pulling his weathered notebook from his pocket, intending to leave a proper thank you, when he sees her (doesn't he?) across the room.

Rules be damned, his hand twitches over his holster.

She's bloody and battered, on fire, lit by that spun-gold magic Ben's hoping like hell will keep her safe until he can help

But when he crosses the bar, she fades further away, looking damn near spent.

Rib cage tight, his eyes lock onto hers.
"You remember you've got somethin' in your favor. Those vampires, they're already dead. They want to kill you, but you want to live, Rae. That's some powerful motivation you're holdin' up your sleeve."
Eyes never leaving hers, he tips his head toward her, conveying what he can't articulate any other way.
almosthonorable: (hand of god)
whitetextiswhite

It's early -- early enough that the bar proper is more quiet than loud. Ben likes mornings like this in here, when he can sit with his coffee at one elbow and his hat by the other on the counter, and he isn't taking up more space than might be considered polite.

This particular morning, he's also got a box of ammunition in front of him, courtesy of Bar; as soon as the gray light outside bleeds to red-gold, he'll stride out back for some target practice.
almosthonorable: (infamous)
whitetextiswhite

[ an out-of-body experience ]


Dan had been damn good to Ben's body; Ben's clean, his stomach is full, and his head feels clearer than it has in a while.

The Lieutenant's presence in the bar makes it all that much sweeter.
almosthonorable: (baleful)
whitetextiswhite

[ "'tis an ill wind that blows o'er us all" ]


His dreams bend and breathe.

Shadows bleed down and up the walls, a menagerie of shifting, squirming shapes.

The Bible in his hands turns to ash; when he opens his mouth to cite Scripture, his tongue falls to the floor, a torn, ragged mess of atrophied muscle.

His gun is gone, his holster empty.

He imagines he's gripping the Colt, the gold crucifix branding his palm with red lines.

If wishes were horses, Ben would have a ranch right now, but that voice -- that goddamn voice -- never stops talking to him. It may as well be inside his head, and for all he knows, it is.

You could live forever, it says, and while Ben can't say the thought's not appealing, he'd bet his missing hat Eve thought that serpent was her friend, too.
almosthonorable: (i keep my enemies closer)
whitetextiswhite

Ben's mostly certain he put those cross-ties back where they belong in the tack room.

Which is why he's striding out to the stables, late hour and icy air be damned.

When he hears the horses -- panicked whinnies cutting straight to his eardrums, raising the hairs on the back of his neck -- he breaks into a run.
almosthonorable: (howdy)
whitetextiswhite

[ link goes here! ]

The saloon in Jamestown, California is more respectable than any of the ones back in Dodge City.

(Of course, that's not saying a whole hell of a lot.)

Nonetheless, it's a classy establishment, and it's at least marginally safer than the holes-in-the-wall Ben's used to playing cards in, and that's what matters; dressed in a smart three-piece suit and Tiwa on his arm, Ben holds open the door and tips his head.

"Pookas first."
almosthonorable: (horseback)
whitetextiswhite

[ honor among thieves ]


It's less than a day's ride from Tombstone to Benson; the town itself isn't much to speak of, but it's growing -- all thanks to the Southern Pacific.

Ben dismounts and ties up Gabriel, then steps over to offer a hand to Saffron.

(She's already attracting appreciative stares from passersby squinting in the afternoon sun.)

The train carrying the payroll they're after won't roll in for another hour; they've got time to canvass and prepare.
almosthonorable: (drawin')
whitetextiswhite

Ben's settled in the armchair in his room, head bent over his sketchbook.

This is a little harder without a certain Russian pilot in the room for comparison, but so far, he's making do.
almosthonorable: (tall drink of water)
whitetextiswhite

[ "we could go someplace where you're not wanted" ]


He caved.

(Caved like a dynamited rock tunnel.)

His only stipulation had been that Tiwa had to wait for him to move his door to Mexico.

Which is why he's smirking as he strides into the bar and finds Little Miss Magic curled on one of the couches.

"Found us the perfect place," he says, tipping his head toward the Front Door.

Ascensión awaits.
almosthonorable: (god forgive me)
whitetextiswhite

[ halos and horns ]


It's too damn still in Ben's room.

(but it's not the stillness, it's the emptiness)

Which is why he finds himself outside Esfir's door, knocking quietly.

"Lieutenant?"
almosthonorable: (this desert life)
whitetextiswhite

[ "ready to go visit your big hole in the desert?" ]


They spend a long damn time looking at Esfir's crater -- not that Ben minds. He doesn't know if he's ever seen her this still.

It's well past mid-afternoon when they clamber down and return to the horses.

"Y'know, you handled yourself awful well in town, Lieutenant," he says once they're in the saddle and heading southwest with no real destination in mind. "Diablo's meaner'n Dodge City and Tombstone put together."

A beat.

"Sometimes."

Another beat.

"Reckon it depends on my whereabouts at the time."
almosthonorable: (i can't think of a non-sexual metaphor)
whitetextiswhite

[ cowboys and russians ]


The fourth morning, Ben's awake well before dawn. Despite the hour, he's downright jovial from a night spent in an actual bed and the chance to wash away the dust from the trail.

(Of course, sharing that bed with Esfir's no hardship.)

They've still got a twelve-mile ride ahead of them, but he doesn't wake her just yet; the pads of his fingers are stroking the back of her neck in a steady, featherlight rhythm.
almosthonorable: (bang bang)
whitetextiswhite

bang

A dented tin can falls.

bang

And another.

bang

And another.

Ben's at the practice range.

bang

He's having a good morning -- or, at least, his aim and depth perception are. Sneaking up on him isn't exactly advisable, but he'll say good morning to anyone who wanders up.
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