said_scarlett: (Ancient Magic Blah Blah)
Faye ([personal profile] said_scarlett) wrote2011-07-06 03:47 pm
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Fic: From Whatever Lamp - (DT:W&G; R)

I think [livejournal.com profile] mnschoen has been psychically pouring brain juice into me while I sleep. This is the only explanation I can think of for me to write two sizable fics in as many days, after so very long having no inspiration! I can't even blame it on the 'oooh, shiny new fandom!' thing here!

And for the two people here who read this fandom: Gunslinger Born covers the meat of Wizard and Glass, The Long Road Home and most of Treachery are fill-in info not from the novels, but the very last thing that happens in Treachery is also in Wizard and Glass. Which is why the spoiler warnings are bizarre and need quantifying. Because one of you is reading the novels and one of you is reading the comics but YOU CAN BOTH ENJOY!

Anyway....


Title: From Whatever Lamp
Fandom: The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass
Word Count: 3694
Rating: R, language
Pairing: Cuthbert/Alain
Spoilers: W&G, Marvel run through Treachery ([livejournal.com profile] husband_brother if you read ALL of Treachery you're safe to read this. ONLY IF YOU READ ALL OF IT AS THIS HAS MASSIVE SPOILER FOR THE LAST PANEL!)
Summary: Even as New Canaan falls around them, even as he loses his own faith in the gods he was raised to revere and serve, Cuthbert refuses to believe there is any darkness so great it could rob the world entirely of light.



The world had gone mad and Gilead was the central tumor from which all madness spawned. The baronies were falling, Gunslingers disappearing or dying in the wilds, time was shifting and Gabrielle Deschain lay cold in the tombs by her son's own hand,…

"And evil come to our door itself." Cuthbert Allgood wasn't a follower of the Man Jesus but he found himself making a sign of a crucifix over his chest anyway. His own mother was always praying, clacking together prayer beads and reading her good book and making heathen symbols on herself. Bert had simply picked up his mother's nervous gestures, and anyway any sign against evil was a good one, wasn't it? And the gods Bert had kept all his life weren't doing a damned thing to help, maybe Jesus would.

His bedroom felt small and dark and cold suddenly. It was going on summer by now, and the sun was low on the horizon and flooding the room with light, but it seemed to take on an outre hue when passing through the window. What was once comforting and welcoming now seemed alien and unsafe. From the four poster bed beneath the stained glass window to the old wooden trunks here and there about the room. It was the room he had spent half of his life growing up in - the other half being the castle proper, where he had been practically fostered at Roland's side - but Bert found no warmth or consolation in his things.

"Is this ka, then?" he asked out the window in bitter tones. Off in the distance, near the borders of New Canaan, dark clouds were building. His imagination, always prone to fits and flights of fancy, was certain the gathering storm spoke of dark deeds to the south. More dark deeds, he supposed. If this was ka, what did that say about the gods of the Gunslingers? If the White was truly to champion, why did their gods refuse to strike Farson down where he stood and put an end to the misery and destruction that plagued In-World? Or at least bless a damned bullet and guide it between his eyes!

Cuthbert curled up in the seat of the great window that looked out over Gilead and beyond. He could see the city sprawling beneath him, clean and thrumming with muted life in the late afternoon sun. Sunlight still shown over Gilead, and life went on. From up here, through the thick glass, it was hard to tell that the last bastion of light and enlightenment was slowly hemorrhaging its life-force to Farson's armies. But there were too few people milling about, and the women walked slowly and though Bert couldn't hear, he knew they'd be speaking in hushed and somber tones.

From his seat in the window, knees under his chin and lean body folded nearly in half, Bert could see the alter he had kept to the Guardians. The carved marble turtle was ancient, something passed down from his mother from centuries before. He sat in the center, his fellows around him as though seeking and waiting his council. The Great Turtle, the only manifestation of God that Bert had ever really paid attention to.

"See the turtle…" he muttered. It was easier to rail at the Guardian than Gan himself. "He who sees but may not aide….Then he's not always kind, is he? And if he loves us all, why does he let us die young and bad? Why does he let our lands and kin and legacy fall to fucking Farson? We fight and we lose and we die and we call it ka!" He was on his feet now, angry and scared and finding no solace in his faith. He stood before the window with clenched fists, his dark hair falling in his face and over his shoulders. It needed cutting. "Saved the world once when it was falling, but can't do it again, aye? Oh heavens help us, our gods are one trick ponies!"

"Is this crisis of faith why you missed supper?"

Bert whirled around, startled and ashamed suddenly. When a man yelled at his gods, it was a private thing.

"Playing amah now, Al?" he teased, crossing his arms over his narrow chest. "I missed supper as I wasn't hungry. Imagine I will be, when dinner proper comes 'round. Oughtn't you be practicing? A Gunslinger's got to be able to hit a mark, you know…."

It was unfair, to fling Alain's recent bout of off target shots in his face. Bert himself hadn't been shooting perfectly either. Even though they had both somewhat gotten used to Roland not being about - in body or in spirit - it was different now.

"Proud words, coming from a man who can barely get his guns out of their holsters." Alain closed the door behind him and cast his gaze about Bert's room. "Your mother still keeps your bedroom for you?"

"Aye. She likes it when I'm home, likes being able to check in on me every chance she gets." And that was sweet and comforting, even though Bert was sixteen and a full Gunslinger. Like so many of his ka-tal he was an only child, the one blessing Gan had gifted His wedded Gunslingers. "Drives me mad, it does."

"Mine's the same. She hasn't called me home, but she keeps eyes on me. Likes to know where I am."

They didn't say anything else. There was too much death, and it wasn't constrained to adult Gunslingers. Boys younger than either of them were being cut down in the fields, even without targets painted on their backs.

"Have…have you seen him today?"

"No." Alain sank onto Bert's bed, his lower lip caught between his teeth. "He doesn't want to see anyone yet."

"It wasn't him…."

"No," Alain repeated. "But no matter the hand that the fires the gun, the bullet can't forget."

"We aren't bullets, we're men."

"Sometimes I wonder…." Alain sighed. He looked tired and smaller than he should, hunched over on Bert's bed, his thick fingers plucking at the pilling of the blankets.

"Do you think it's ka?" Bert glanced back out the window. The storm clouds covered the southern sky now. "All that's come, all that's coming? Is it God's will?"

"I don't know. I'm not a priest or a philosopher."

"You would be, had you not been born to the gun. And anyway, I haven't got a priest or a philosopher to ask, I've got you." Which was, as far as Bert was concerned, just as good. better, actually, as Al didn't have all the pretension and snobbery came with those sorts of callings. But really Bert was just trying to find ways to express himself without stripping emotionally naked. Not that it mattered anymore, Al had seen him at lower than his worst. "I'm scared, Al."

"So'm I."

They met each other's eyes, nervous and hesitant, waiting to be struck down by gods they weren't sure they still believed in. It was a shameful thing, to admit fear. They were men, knights, the last children of the gun. To express fear over coming battle, the thing they were born and trained to do….

"What's going to happen?" All Bert had were questions. Hadn't Cort said he'd die with one on his lips? Or had it been a laugh?

"How'm I supposed to know?"

"You've got the Touch."

"It doesn't work that way." The smile Alain offered was sad and apologetic. How easy it would be, if they could just read the future! See even a small glimpse of what was to come, or if danger was hiding in the shadows of their beloved Gilead.

"I've got a couple of buttons…."

"And I've got some sugar. Neither of which either of us is taking." The firmness in Alain's voice gave Bert a pause. He wondered, suddenly, what it had to be like for Alain to take mese. Entirely earthly Bert could reach enough of The Touch under it to see things elsewhere, what in the world did Al see?

"Wouldn't do me any good anyway," Bert pointed out. "I don't want to die young and bad, Al."

"Who does?" The larger boy stood, came across the room and laid a heavy hand on Bert's shoulder. "Ka stands to one side and laughs, as it always has done and always will. Whether or not you believe in it."

"I've been thinking a lot…." Bert began.

"About dying? No good comes from that."

"Not me. My father." Bert couldn't quite get his mind to go further, to contemplate his own possibly imminent death. He was sixteen! He didn't leave Gilead! And even though spies and assassins and whatnot had wormed their way into the castle, they'd all been ferreted out! But their fathers, who rode out of Gilead and checked the front lines and struck at Farson where they could….

"You're going to start seeing housies everywhere if you let your mind turn to those thoughts." Alain's hand tightened on Bert's shoulder. "Your father's alive and well. And Gan willing will be for many years to come, same as you and me. Stop this, yeah? It makes me crawly to see you moping and miserable. S'not right."

"Guess I'm just too tired to treat you to my usual charming self." He tried out a small smile. "Maybe if you put on a skirt and bat your eyelashes I'd be more inclined…."

Alain laughed at that, a proper guffawing laugh. Bert felt the weight of him as he leaned over, his hand still on Bert's shoulder. Warm on his shoulder.

"I'd make a piss ugly woman!" Al exclaimed, and Ber found himself laughing too.

"Oh, come now! Curl your hair and do that horrific thing with hot beeswax and lemon they do to their legs and whatnot, you'd be the belle of any ball! Every eye would be drawn to you! Why, I can see it now! They'd all agree, never had they seen a more…impressive figure of a female!"

It truly wasn't that funny, but as so many things between friends, it seemed the greatest of hilarity. They both were doubled over, laughing and grasping at one another and adding on to the outlandish scenario. It was good to laugh and touch and feel weightless and giddy for a few moments. Finally, Alain got himself under control, breathless and grinning. Bert followed suit, and suddenly there they were, standing before the window with their arms around one another and meeting each other's eyes.

It always struck Bert as odd, that he was taller than Alain. Al was so broad and thick, had such a bulk to him! It was jarring that he didn't have the height to match it. But in that, as all things, they were inversions of one another. Fair, clear eyed, honest faced Alain with his muscle and his weight and his body like a bear's. Cuthbert dark and narrow and alchemistic, as lean and hungry faced as Cassius himself.

"Look at that," Bert found himself saying. "We're a matched set, we are." There was a rightness, he thought, to him and Al. It was so different than what was between him and Roland, but it was a rightness and he found he didn't want to step away. He realized, somewhat oddly, that were Al a girl, he probably would kiss him.

Alain didn't respond. There was a tenseness in his body, a caution that hadn't been there before. Bert found himself searching his older friend's honest blue eyes and was surprised to see that same caution reflected there.

"Well…we are." Bert found his smile starting to slip. "Everything you are, I'm not. And everything I am, you're not. So I guess it's more two halves of a whole then a matched set, since we don't actually match, but we go together right and…."

"And you'd kiss me if I were a woman."

"I didn't say that!" Not out loud. He'd just thought it…and Al was touching him, and he'd thought it in the forefront of his mind, and of course Alain had heard him. "I mean…not so's you were supposed to hear…Your stupid Touch is damned inconvenient, you know!"

"I'm not a woman."

"Well, yes. In fact, lest I've lost my memory in the last ten minutes, I think we were just discussing that very fact!" But still neither of them dropped their arms, broke contact, moved away. Alain's hands were on Bert's shoulders and Bert's own were hooked casually and comfortably about Al's broad back. It felt good and right. He'd been lost since Roland went into seclusion, locking himself in his rooms and seeing none but his father. And even he and Al had been spending time apart, hurt and scared and unsure how to go on without Roland to guide them.

"If ye were a woman…." Bert ventured, his dark eyes narrowing in a shadow of flirtation, "would you let me kiss you?"

"What does it matter? I'm a man, and I always will be." Alain swallowed hard, and Bert understood they were both on very unstable ground.

"Well…there's plenty of legends and tales of pesky demons and whatnot that make men into women and women into men. So there's at least a small chance you could end up a woman someday, but you're pretty careful not to go stepping in circles or active speaking stones. Some stories talk about magic trinkets or potions that'd do it, so you could always run afoul of one of them. But really, I think that'd be too much work, just for a kiss. Even from me."

"Your kisses are that desired, then?" Alain snorted. "Funny. I've never heard tell of you sharing any…."

"The greatest treasures are those most rare, dear Alain. Including me."

There were no shadows of flirtation now. Despite Cuthbert's chaste-by-default lifestyle, he knew the subtle art of flirting and seduction well. It was one of his many masks, and a useful one at that when someone who favored pretty young men needed charming. He'd flirted with both Al and Roland before, but in a teasing manner that lacked any substance. Flirting was like joking and all too often they went hand in hand for Bert. He was well aware that if he wanted, he could have a different maid in his bed every night. He was desired, and greatly so. Why wouldn't he be? He was handsome, he was young, he was wealthy, he carried guns that had survived since the days of Eld himself. Every eligible female in New Canaan wondered and whispered at who his father would choose for him, now that Roland was off the market. Hell, that girl he'd been sat with at the coming of age banquet had been unbuttoning his trousers with her eyes all evening!

But he wasn't about to tumble into bed with some girl just because she gave him calf eyes and flashed him some leg. He wasn't holding out for true love, or some legendary romance, but he wanted something more than just sex. Even if it was just rutting out his wild before he was properly wedded. But he was nervous of romantic entanglements, of losing himself in another so completely that he forgot himself. Or his father's face. Or having someone else lost in him. As dashing and flattering as it was in fantasy, he could imagine the reality was a hassle at best and dangerous at worst.

Al hadn't said anything. They were still just standing there holding each other and carefully navigating the strange rapids that had reared up between them. It was like standing on a precipice, though that was probably more dramatic a simile than necessary. Even so, Bert felt that way. His toes were at the edge and there was wind buffeting him from all sides, and the option was there to simply turn around and return to what was safe and familiar. But the wind whispered temptations and while the drop would be terrifying and life altering and possibly very painful, it still seemed appealing.

Cuthbert edged one foot out over the drop.

"Want to hunt for treasure, Al?"

His voice was husky and low, infused with just the right amount of affection and allure. His hip cocked forward. The soft comma of dark hair that refused to be held with pins or ties or clips fell across his brow, giving him that rakish look that swept so many young girls off their feet.

Alain wasn't a young girl, however.

"Bert…" he finally responded. His lower lips was shaking some and Bert felt that unstable ground begin to pitch. "That was terrible."

"I thought it was romantic!"

"It wasn't. Not really. The girls you tease might like your pretty words, but I can only stomach so much."

"You've hardly even been about me of late, how can you be sick of me already?" Bert laughed. "I can't have built up that much annoyance in you over the years!"

"You'd be surprised." But Al was smiling. Sort of. "If you're going to kiss me, just do it."

"Well that's not romantic at all," Bert protested. "You could at least try."

"This isn't romantic," Alain pointed out. "There's no place in Gilead for romance anymore."

"But how do you know it's dark, lest you can see a light shining against it?" It was an honest question, asked with perplexity and wonder. No matter how dark and terrible it got, good things had to exist too. It was all about balance and all of that.

Alain's answer was to move closer, to tighten his hands on Bert's shoulders, to lean in and up and take the kiss Bert had so blithely offered.

It took Cuthbert by surprise. He froze, all his flash and bravado and flirtations gone. All he was aware of were Al's lips, dry and rough and so much larger than his own. He could taste tobacco and smoke on them. Or maybe that was his own mouth, he wasn't sure. Could you taste what was on someone's lips, if both sets of lips were mashed together tightly? And if both tasted the same, how could you even tell? And why was he wondering about what he was tasting from who when he was in the grips of his first - and long overdue at that - proper kiss?!?

It was over too quickly. A brief and brilliant burst of smoke harshed spit and sun-split lips and the roughened slide of their mouths together. And then Al drew back, and his hand was in Bert's hair and how and when had that happened?

"I love you most when you're honest."

"Aren't I always, with you?" Bert bent for another kiss, not wanting to talk any more. It was all too easy to turn again to dark things with words. Better to otherwise occupy their mouths, and it had felt good to kiss Alain. But the blond turned his head and Bert came to rest with forehead pressed to Al's cheek.

"In your way." Alain was stroking his hair, playing with it. His thick yet clever fingers threading through the long dark hanks that fell unbound down Bert's neck.

"Come and stay with me tonight."

"In your bed?"

"If it pleases you." Al smelled like leather and gun oil and the earthy tang of sweat. They were good smells, familiar smells. Bert wanted to lay in the darkness and fill his senses with that smell, wrap himself in it and Alain like some sort of holy shield. To hell with gods of Prim and Beam and Men; they would do as they would do, whether they be real or imagined. Al was there, and Al loved him and protected him and stood by him regardless. When he found himself alone and lost, it was Al that held out a hand and guided him back to right.

"Would it please you?"

"Why do you ask questions you know the answer to? Fuck's sake, Al, help me! I can't just know what you feel and want by touching skin to skin!" It was almost a whine, and entirely pleading. It wasn't fair, that Al held all the cards and Bert had been certain he had control before they kissed….

"After last bell," Al breathed. "I'll come after last bell." He cast his eyes about the room and his tone warmed. "I'll bring candles. You've burned yours down to nothing!"

"No." Bert's hands tightened in Al's shirt and he looked up viper-quick. "No. Come to me in the dark."

"I don't think it'll go that well if we can't see a thing…."

Now it was Bert's turn to warm and smile.

"S'alright," he said, nuzzling against Al's neck. "You'll be my light."

[identity profile] mnschoen.livejournal.com 2011-07-08 04:13 pm (UTC)(link)
"Is this crisis of faith why you missed supper?"

Bert whirled around, startled and ashamed suddenly. When a man yelled at his gods, it was a private thing.


I must admit, I giggled at this part.

On a more serious, the whole thing was just saturated with this end-of-the-world hopelessness/helplessness. How you get such intense tones into your stories always astounds me. And the end was just adorable.