[identity profile] walkingivy.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] wl_fanfiction
Title: Inside the Saloon
Author:  Walkingivy
Pairings: Greg/Clive, Richard/Tony, other side pairings
Rating: R?
Summary: Set in the Wild West, Greg returns to his old stomping grounds to help a friend and finds old flames still burn hot.
A/N:  Written for Rosedamask in the Valentine fic exchange, who requested Greg/Clive or Richard/Tony and provided a substantial number of suggestions.  I sort of ran out of time to do the angle I’d originally intended, so it has a less than stellar ending, but hopefully still satisfies.

Part 1:

Hattrick was a small town located far off the beaten road in West Texas which had a demeanor was nearly as odd as its name.  By 1880, it was little more than a ghost town, and by 1940, there was no one alive who even remembered it existed.   But our story begins and ends long before that during some of the liveliest years of Hattrick: the 1840’s.

Greg Proops, former rancher and current psychiatrist, was returning to Hattrick after nearly ten years away.  He hadn’t intended to come back at all, not after the way he’d left.  But his old friend Richard had written him a letter that was no less than begging for him to return, said that it was a matter of life or death, and Greg had had no choice but to give in to his conscience.

His first stop was at the inn which had exactly three rooms that were never all filled at the same time unless someone was having a fight with their lover at the same time some not entirely likeable relatives had come to visit. Greg could tell that none of the rooms were taken that day by the utter silence within the building.  He cleared his throat to try to get the attention of the keeper who was engrossed in a dime novel.  Not receiving the response he desired, Greg tried again.

“A room, please?”

“I know that voice.”  Josie Lawrence head perked up as she marked her place and set the book aside.  “If it isn’t the educated Mr. Gregory Proops. What brings you back here?”

“Well, currently, I’m in need of a room.”  Greg evaded.

Josie sighed, but didn’t pursue it as she retrieved a blanket from a nearby closet and guided Greg up the stairs to an empty room where he set down his two heavy bags at the foot of the bed.  She held out her hand for payment.

“I thought your husband handled the money.”

“He died.”  Josie said bluntly.  “So I handle everything now.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Don’t pretend like you care about us poor souls in Hattrick now.  You inherit your uncle’s mine and the next day, you run off to some big city so you can go to college and forget about all of us.”  Josie said accusingly.  It wasn’t far from the truth.  Greg had run off to go to college as soon as he’d had the money, but it wasn’t because of the money that he left.

“Josie…”  Greg began, but she fled the room before he could get any further.   He hadn’t really expected a warm welcome when he returned, but the cold blame that settled on his shoulders was still hard to bear.   Greg stowed his things out of the way and sat heavily on the bed for a few minutes to compose himself.  He didn’t unpack because, if he had his way, he’d be out of there in a few days.  Part of him thought Richard had been exaggerating just to get him to return, but the other part of him wondered why he would have waited so long if that were the case.

Steeling himself for the reaction his unannounced visit might bring around the town with old friends who might feel even more betrayed than Josie, Greg decided he had to get this over with.  There was no sense in him coming all this way for nothing.

Out in the open streets, he only crossed a few people, but quickly received a full spectrum of reactions from sharp anger to a warm embrace.  Greg knew he’d had to leave Hattrick, but sometimes it was easy to forget that he had left a whole town of friends behind.  Richard was still living in his old house off the main road that his parents had left to him, if his letter was to be believed, which surprised Greg because he knew Richard had never liked the house all that much.

It took five separate rounds of knocking before Greg gave up.  Richard was definitely not home.  He could be out getting supplies or groceries.  He could be visiting friends around the town.  He might even be with Stephen Fry who called himself a tinkerer but was more of a jack-of-all-trades, and knew the solution to your problem 80% of the time and could find it out within a week the other 20% of the time.   Greg was tempted to visit him first but knew he was simply delaying the inevitable.   If Richard wasn’t home, he was almost certainly at the Saloon where he played the piano or entertained the guests with impromptu skits.

Greg had known he’d have to go to the Saloon sooner or later (that was the whole reason he was avoiding Hattrick), but he’d rather have made it later.  He could wait it out, the coward in him suggested.  Richard spent inordinate amounts of time at the Saloon, but he didn’t sleep there.

Shaking his head, Greg decided it was time to face his demons.  How bad could it be, really, after ten years?

The piano could be heard from well outside the building, which meant that Richard would definitely be found inside.  Greg got one step into the Saloon, eyes instantly drawn to the man behind the bar, before everything came rushing back to him with a force that nearly had him rocking on his feet.

Clive Anderson, owner and vigilant bartender for the Saloon, was not the most handsome man Greg had ever laid eyes on, but he knew that the magic of Hattrick had always been between the two of them.

Greg had known Clive since he’d come into the cluster of buildings barely fit to be called a town one day and set up the Saloon seemingly the next.  He wasn’t much older than twenty then, and Greg was still a boy working on his father’s ranch.   They barely saw each other for a few years until Greg began to take on more of the ranch duties and found excuse after excuse to come into town.  He’d always manage to find himself back at the Saloon, leaning on the counter and demanding Clive’s attention. 

Clive was one of the, if not the, quickest people Greg had ever met. He was all wit and wordplay. Greg would spend all week coming up with the sharpest comment he could, and quick as a lightning bolt, Clive would return fire.  Much of their repartee was spontaneous, though, which lead to steadily more inappropriate comments.  Greg wanted to make Clive blush, for reasons that he wouldn’t examine too closely at first, but Clive almost never seemed ruffled by anything he said.  This was their relationship and as time wore onward, Greg found that he lived for the conversations he had with the bartender, which he’d try to stretch longer and longer so that he would have something to think about in all the days that came between them. 

“It’s getting late.  You’ll have to ride back in the dark.”  Clive pointed out one evening as Greg sat sideways so he could watch Richard and Tony pack up from their earlier performance. 

Greg pointedly did not look at him as he wiped down the bar.  “Maybe I’ll stay here.”

“Not with me, you won’t.”  Clive returned as the Saloon emptied of the last guests, leaving the two of them alone. 

Greg pouted, once again frustrated in his attempt to make a move on his friend.  Clive flirted openly with him, but whenever Greg tried to take it a step further, the other man danced out of his reach.  “Oh, come on, don’t make me go to the inn.  I happen to know you’ve got a perfectly good bed upstairs.”

“So the inn’s out?   I am not going to give up my bed so you don’t have to part with your money.  I hear you’re rich now, anyway.  How did that happen?”

         Greg shrugged.  The idea of being wealthy was still foreign to him. “My uncle left me his mine.” He hadn’t known his uncle all that well so he wasn’t heartbroken.  It was just a strange fact that he was adjusting to. “I’ve never even seen his mine before.”

“Your mine, now.”

Greg felt a wicked grin take over his face, spreading wider as Clive realized what he’d said and began to blush furiously in a way that Greg had never had the pleasure of seeing.  “Oh, am I now?  Does that mean we’ll be sharing the bed?” 

Did Clive even have any idea how adorable he looked choking on his words? Greg wished he could stretch this moment on forever to savor the master of words’ speechlessness. Clive without his words was a completely vulnerable Clive, and Greg was suddenly wondering what he thought about gags.

“I didn’t mean… I just…”  Clive continued to flounder, so Greg took up his courage and dragged him over the counter by his shirt collar, pressing their lips together in their first kiss.

“Are you sure you didn’t mean that?” Greg asked when they broke apart.

Clive swallowed hard and whispered, “Maybe we could share the bed.”

Greg smiled broadly.  “Well, come on, then.”  He tossed over his shoulder as he hurried toward the stairs.

Clive stood still behind the bar, eyes wide, towel clutched between two hands. He took a breath and seemed to recover a little, trying to mask his obvious nervousness with a prickly attitude.  “I’m sorry, I thought this was my house.”

“Well, if you’d rather do it down here, I’m up for that.  I doubt anyone would come in at this hour, probably.”  Greg offered cheerfully.

“You wouldn’t.”  Clive examined him closely.  “You would.”

Greg just smiled and headed up the stairs, finding the small bedroom easily and sitting on the bed to remove his shoes and then his shirt.  A moment later, Clive stood in the doorway, uncertainty in his stance.  

“Greg…”  He began in a hesitant tone, but Greg wasn’t prepared to listen to arguments after waiting so long to get where he was.  He sprang across the room and kissed Clive again, closing the door and pushing the older man against it.  Clive’s protests died on his lips as Greg started working on removing his shirt and tracing invisible patterns over his chest and back. 

“You want this.”  Greg stated as he worked on Clive’s belt, no doubt in his mind that the words were true.

Clive licked his lips.  “Yes.”

Greg sank to his knees before him, tugging down his pants and taking Clive in his mouth as if he’d done it a thousand times.  He hadn’t.  Clive was the first man he’d been with, but he was too enthusiastic to be nervous. Logically, he knew it was a strange thing to do to another guy, but it simply felt right to be doing it to Clive, and he found the act and the taste to be enjoyable.  Clive slipped his fingers into his hair and leaned back heavily against the door, moaning out Greg’s name like it was some sacred word. 

Greg couldn’t help but to use his free hand to pleasure himself while he worked on the man in front of him, trying to find a release to the pressure of a long pent up frustration.  He came quickly into his own palm, then concentrated on finishing his task on Clive.  A moment later, he was swallowing down a gush of liquid, then panting for breath. 

Clive looked down at him with nothing short of adoration that stemmed from a lot more than a quick blowjob.  Greg smiled back up at him.  “Bed?”

As Greg snuggled into Clive’s chest, he felt extremely content to feel arms wind around his back and a breath hitting the top of his head.  Life was perfect, he thought as he fell asleep. 

He awoke to Clive pressing him to dress quickly and get downstairs before anyone came in.  It was far too early for people who frequented the Saloon, but one could never be too careful when you ran a business that barely had half a door. It was less than ideal, but Greg was easily appeased by the chaste kiss Clive gave him before he left the room. 

Clive’s instinct turned out to be warranted.  The sheriff came into the Saloon not ten minutes later and sat down at the bar a few stools down from Greg, resting his hat on the counter and asking Clive if he’d heard anything peculiar the night before. 

Clive shook his head.  “Can’t say that I did, Ryan.  Richard and Tony were making quite the noise, though.”

“This would have been later than that.” 

“No, sorry.”

Ryan turned toward Greg.  “How about you?”

“He wasn’t here.”  Clive jumped in.

The sheriff gave a snort of laughter.  “I didn’t say he was.  Just figured he must have been in town last night if he’s here at the Saloon so early.”

“No, I didn’t hear anything.”  Greg responded. 

Ryan nodded and stood.  “Well, let me know if you hear anything.”  He took his hat and walked out.  The doors swished behind him. 

“I can’t do this.”  Clive said quietly the instant he was gone.

“Do what?” 

“Be with you.  I just can’t.  It’s not right.  What will people think?  What will they say?”

“Ryan doesn’t care.” Greg argued, hardly believing his ears.  “Everyone knows that there’s something going on between him and Doc Mochrie, anyway.”

“The same way that everyone knows there’s something going on between you and me.  That is, until last night.  It’s just rumors. What would happen if it got out that we’re really together?  We’d be in danger.  I can’t live like that.”

“You’re not serious.”

“Greg.  What happened between us can never happen again.”

Greg felt like he’d been sucker punched.  “I love you.”  He whispered.

Clive stiffened, then turned his head.  “I don’t love you.”

Greg thought the whole world was spinning as he stumbled from the Saloon and walked down the lane in a daze.  He nearly ran into the sheriff as he was coming out of a nearby house. 

“Are you alright?” Ryan asked.  Greg shuddered. He felt sick. Clive didn’t want him… he’d never wanted him.  Greg shook his head.  Ryan frowned.  “Does it have anything to do with you not being in the Saloon last night?”

Slowly, Greg met Ryan’s concerned gaze. They’d always been friends, and without Clive, he desperately needed someone to lean on.  “He doesn’t love me.” 

Ryan draped an arm over his shoulders and steered him toward his office, where he settled him into a chair and got him something to drink.  “He said that?  Just now?”

Greg nodded numbly. 

“Look, maybe it would be easier if you took some time away.  You’ve got money now.”

“I don’t think a few weeks away will make a difference.”

“Then how about a few years?”

Greg looked up from his drink.  “You trying to get rid of me?”

“No.”  Ryan smiled tightly.  “I just think the smartest man in the world should go to college.”

“Greg?”  The music had stopped, and Richard was standing in front of him now, blocking his view of Clive, and Greg had the distinct impression that he’d been trying to get his attention for a while now.

“Richard!”  Greg greeted the man enthusiastically, pulling him into a hug that the other man returned eagerly.  Richard then dragged him across the floor with his normal boundless energy, sat him on a chair and offered to get them both drinks.  Greg readily agreed because he couldn’t imagine trying to have any sort of conversation with Clive at the moment, even if it was simply ordering.  He shifted his chair a little further so his back was completely to the bartender.  He knew he’d be staring given half the opportunity, just as he knew Clive’s stare was boring holes into the back of his head.

“Thank you again for coming.”  Richard said as he set down their drinks and dropped into the chair beside him.  “I don’t know what I’d have done if you refused. It’s just been getting worse, and I’ve tried everything I could think of and everyone he knows has tried something.  Colin’s been up there three times but of course he says he’s not that kind of doctor….”

“Richard, you’re rambling.”  Greg broke in, all thoughts that this was a ploy having left his brain.  “Just take a deep breath and tell me what’s going on.”

“Look, you know Tony is my best friend, so you know I’d only say this if it were true, but the man’s gone mad.  He’s having a complete breakdown: he won’t let anyone in, he flies into rages at no provocation, he’s thrown chairs and furniture from his window, and he’s been seen rifling through garbage for god knows what reason.  He’s completely emotionally unstable.  He’s even acting paranoid and delusional, for instance, claiming that we were only there because we wanted to hurt him.”

Greg thought back to his friend Tony and tried to reconcile the image Richard had painted of a crazy man with the cocky, charming, quick-witted young flirt that always wore jackets with tassels and never let anyone concentrate on the task at hand if they were trying to be serious.  He could hardly wrap his brain around it.  Still, Richard looked as distressed as he could be and Greg had to believe it.  “How long has this been going on?”

“Almost a year ago, he started working all the time, I mean, more than usual, Tony’s always been a busybody, but it was to the point where he’d hardly sleep and was picking up all sorts of odd jobs.  It was as if his goal was to try to be seen no matter where you went or at what time.  He’d never say no to anyone if they asked him to do something.

“I took him down to the lake one day.  I guess it was a last ditch effort to get him to stop working himself to death.”  Richard took on an almost wistful look, and Greg had to figure that the trip had been something meaningful to him.  “He was great, fantastic, really.  It was like whatever he was running from hadn’t managed to follow him down there.  Only, it didn’t last.  As soon as we got back, he kicked me out of his house and locked himself away.  It was so much worse than the disastrous end of his engagement.”

Greg took a moment to process all the information.  Richard had implied that he and Tony were together, which didn’t really surprise Greg because anyone with eyes would have jumped to that conclusion years ago from the adoring looks Richard would drop and the openly flirtatious advances Tony would make.  What was more surprising was that the two had moved in together, which was as good as declaring their relationship.  Hattrick always did seem to attract the sort of folk who didn’t care too much about a person’s sex when it came to love.  Greg wondered if it didn’t have something to do with a certain sheriff who was fiercely defensive about a certain doctor.  Ryan was the kind of person to stand up for what he felt was right, even when he was outgunned.   Word on the street had it that he had even deputized a young black man named Wayne, even after Texas had entered the Union as a slave state.

“He was engaged?”

“You’ve been gone a long time, my friend.”  Richard responded.

“To whom?”

“The daughter of a store clerk who came and went in your absence.  Turns out she was sleeping with another woman.  I doubt it would have ended quite so badly if she hadn’t been doing it in secret.   You know how things are around here.”

“I know how things are around here well enough to know that you and Tony living together was dangerous.”  Greg resisted the urge to turn around and look at Clive as he echoed his assertions.  It was dangerous.  Most people in Hattrick would accept it, but most of the people who rode through town wouldn’t.  Or maybe Greg was just jealous because Richard and Tony had risked it while Clive had shot him down.

“I couldn’t help it.”  Richard said, shaking his head.  “I’m in love with him.  Besides, we had a cover story.”

Greg sighed and looked at Richard.  He understood. He gave Richard a playful jab. “Honestly, I thought he’d end up with Stephen.”

Richard gave him a calculating look, as if contemplating how much to share.  “The tinkerer?  They might have had a thing once upon a time, but… that was a long time ago.”

Greg finished off his drink and tried to ignore the ever present feeling of Clive’s eyes on him as he stood.  “So, let’s go see Tony.”



Part 2:

            Tony had a gun.  This was not all that unsurprising in that nearly everyone in town had a gun, Greg included; however, it was alarming, given the state of Tony’s mind.  Greg discovered that Tony had a gun because it was pointed at his chest the moment his incessant knocking finally roused the occupant of the house to the door.

            “Greg?”  Tony seemed utterly confused, despite the fact that Greg had already introduced himself half a dozen times through the door.  Richard had declared it hopeless, having tried this same tactic himself.   He stood off to the side, leaning against the railing.  “Is that really you?”

            “In the flesh.”  Greg promised.

            “You brought Richard.”

            “No, Richard brought me.”

            “He’s trying to kill me.”  Tony stated matter-of-factly.  Richard didn’t even flinch, which meant he’d heard this line many, many times before.

             “Would you consider lowering the gun?”  Greg suggested.

            Tony looked down, like he was surprised to see the weapon clutched tightly in his sweaty palms.  He did lower it, but just an inch.  “Richard’s trying to kill me.”  He stated again.

            “It’s okay, Richard is going to go away now and it will be just you and me.”  Thankfully, Richard took the hint and slowly backed away before turning to his own home. “You see?  Just like I said, it’s just you and me.”  Greg waited a beat while Tony lowered the gun to his side.  “Now that it’s just you and me, do you think I could come in?”

            Tony reached out with his empty hand and gave Greg’s shoulder a quick shove, as if testing that he was actually there and not a figment of a clearly overactive imagination.  “Why are you here, Greg?”

            “I want to talk to you.”  Greg responded, avoiding using the word help for fear of what other context Tony may have heard it in. He didn’t want to get associated with anyone else.  He was just Greg.  Perhaps this lack of association was what convinced Tony he was safe to allow in his home, though he did not relinquish the gun once they were inside. There was no furniture to sit on, so Greg made himself comfortable on the floor, sitting cross-legged and waiting patiently for Tony to join him on the ground.

            “Why do you think Richard wants to kill you?”  Greg asked carefully.

            “I remember he pushed me into a lake.”

            “Do you know how to swim?”

            “Yes.”

            “And you didn’t drown that day.”

            “No.”

            “Are there any other reasons Richard may have wanted to push you into the lake?”

            “I don’t want to talk about Richard anymore.”

            “Okay.  What would you like to talk about?”  Greg allowed Tony to steer the conversation for the next couple hours.  While Tony was clearly skirting around the important issues, Greg felt he was able to get a clearer picture of Tony’s mind.

            Greg thought back to the numerous times he’d seen the two of them perform together in the Saloon with the happy haze that fond memories tend to collect over the years.  Their sketches were entirely original and seemed to change on a nightly basis, though they always started out the same.  Greg had often thought about joining them up on the stage and had joined in on their rehearsals a time or two because their act drew him in.  They’d offered to have him on stage during performances, but Greg was always forced to turn it down for the sake of his ranch and the sake of his family.
        
            Still, it was always a thrill to watch them and he had to admit that his chosen field of psychiatry was in no small part influenced by their act and his fascination with the ability to read people and conform to their expectations in order to please them.  He wanted to know more about how the brain worked and how to understand people better.

            He used his skills and training now to evaluate Tony’s situation.  The man he knew was certainly still in there, so his initial fears that he was irreparably cracked were unfounded.  However, there was a cloak of something dark that had a firm grip on him.  Perhaps depression and anxiety was too deeply rooted for him to shake them off?  It appeared as though Tony had been desperately trying to hide from his heavy emotions by burying himself in work, but that only succeeded in adding to his stress and not addressing the underlying issue.  The day at the lake had probably done him some good, but it wasn’t the adequate time he needed to begin healing and the stress of returning to his normal and hectic lifestyle was too much.  He also learned that Tony was definitely self-medicating with alcohol and drugs, which he’d need to wean him off in order to make an effective difference.

            Hopefully with some proper counseling and better addressed self-care, Tony would reassert himself.  Easing back into his former activities would also do him a world of good.

            “Do you think I could come back and talk with you tomorrow?”  Greg asked after roughly two hours.

            “Maybe.”  Tony replied.

            Greg took that as permission and said a quick goodbye before parting.

            He was only a few steps back toward the inn because he’d already arrived late in the day and he was beginning to get tired, when a familiar voice called to him from behind.  “If it isn’t the smartest man in the world, finally back from college.  Honestly, I thought it wouldn’t take you so long.”

            Greg swiveled and halted, waiting for Ryan to catch up.  “Honestly, I thought you wouldn’t be able to tough out sheriff so long.”

            “I’d invite you to the Saloon for some drinks, but…”

            “No, it’s okay.   I think I need a stiff one, and I’ve already stared the devil in the eye and survived once today.”

            “Great.”  Ryan slapped him on the back and steered him across the street.

            Greg wasn’t sure if he’d been had, but Ryan was dragging him into a poker game and sweeping the floor with him not twenty minutes later.  Mike the carpenter was there, taking up a good chunk of the table, and Caroline was present as well, quietly passing looks his way when she thought he wasn’t looking. Paul the butcher, who had apparently married Caroline a few years ago, completed the circle.

            “So you’re not dead.”  Paul deadpanned upon seeing him sit down at their table.

            “Not for lack of trying.”  Greg quipped.  And then any residual awkwardness melted away and it was like a group of old friends spending time together.  Greg decided it was a good idea to drink every time he lost a round or every time he accidently caught Clive’s eyes from across the room, and it wasn’t long before he found himself very drunk.

            “I’m done.”  Mike finally conceded nearly an hour after Caroline and Paul had called it quits.  “Tonight is not my night.”

            “I think the only one Lady Luck is smiling upon tonight is our dear sheriff.”  Greg contributed before saying his goodbyes.

            Ryan put away the cards and supplies before stashing the money away.  “Let’s get you back to the inn.”  Ryan offered him a hand.

            Greg shook his head and gulped down some more of his drink, not bothering to hide his open regard of the bartender.  “It still hurts.”  He muttered, unsure if Ryan could make out his drunken rambling.  “How does it still hurt?”

            “Some pains never go away.”  Ryan returned in a knowledgeable tone.

            Greg promptly passed out.  He wasn’t sure if he was dreaming, but he had the vaguest recollections of throwing up, cool hands against his warm skin, being laid in a bed and having his shoes removed for him.  He was fairly sure that when he rolled over in an unfamiliar bed, he found Clive camped out on the floor beside him with only a small mat to keep him comfortable.

            The morning greeted him with a pounding headache that had him groaning even before he opened his eyes.  The hands were back, holding him up and pressing a glass against his lips.  “Drink this.”

            Greg obeyed before letting himself slump into the body next to him.  Then the previous night returned to him, and Greg jerked away, nearly tumbling off the side of the bed.  Clive watched him with amusement and nervousness.

            Greg fought the urge to bolt from the source of all his pain.  After all, Clive had taken care of him after a pretty stupid bout of drinking.  He wasn’t sure if he should thank Ryan or challenge him to a duel for leaving him in the bartender’s care.  He was sure, from what he could piece together of the previous night, that he should probably thank Clive.  “Um.  Thanks.”

            Clive nodded like he’d give up his bed to anyone, which Greg knew not to be true, and gave him a timid smile.  “I’ve… missed you.”  He began.  “Do you think we could be friends again?”

            Greg wanted to scream or laugh because it was ludicrous to think that he would simply forgive Clive after all the pain he’d put him through.  But his mouth seemed to have other goals in mind and answered for him.  “I’ve missed you, too.”

            One week passes, and then two and Greg still hasn’t left Hattrick.  Instead, he’s fallen into a pattern.  In the morning, he visits around the town, reacquainting himself with the people and the landscape that never really left his mind even in all his years away.  Things have changed, people have come and people have gone, and Greg finds himself increasingly reluctant to leave again.  In the afternoon, he visits Tony.  Sometimes he stays for a few minutes and sometimes he stays for a few hours, but he can see that Tony is making steady progress.   In the evenings, he finds himself back in the Saloon, listening to Richard play the piano and bantering with Clive like the past ten years never happened.

“How is Tony?”  Richard asks him every day when he comes into the Saloon.

“Better than yesterday.”  Greg proclaims each time.  Because Tony is making remarkable progress, and it warms Greg’s heart to see more and more of his old self shining through the darkness.  Today, he had a special treat for Richard as he followed up his statement with, “He wants to see you.  He’s even been talking about performing again.”

He’d been told that humans couldn’t glow, but Richard was proving science wrong with the way his face lit up and tears swelled in his eyes.  “Thank you, Greg, for everything.  I was… I was beginning to lose hope.”  He stood from the piano, stopping his song without any remorse.  “Can I see him now?”

“It would be better to wait until tomorrow.”

“I understand.”  Richard said, but his tone spoke otherwise.

Greg rested his hand on Richard’s shoulder.  “He’s coming back to us.  Just give him more time.”

There was a bit of heckling from the audience, a crowd that had several new faces, and Richard returned to his playing.  Greg, in an uncommonly good mood due to his previous successful session with Tony, decided it was time to bother Clive.  He began this venture by sitting on top of the bar instead of in one of the conveniently placed stools.

Clive gave him a dirty look.  “Get down.”

“On all fours?”  Greg asked, dropping into the position with a playful grin.

Clive was shaking his head in a tortured fashion.  “You never stop, do you?”

“Yes, and you never start.”  Greg shot back.   He knew he was laying it on pretty thick, but Clive was playing along like it was nothing.  “Forget it, babe, we don’t have time.”

“Oh, there’s always time for you in that position.”

Their banter was interrupted by the appearance of a rancher who was ordering more drinks while giving Greg a disgusted look. Greg stood, brushing himself off and sat in a stool.  He returned the look with a heated glare. Clive immediately clammed up and proceeded to ignore Greg for the next twenty minutes while he pretended to be busy with other customers. Frustrated, Greg left the Saloon to go back to the inn, cursing the rancher under his breath.

He never made it there.



Part 3:


“What happened?”  Greg asked as he came around.  He felt like he’d just had one hell of a day at the rodeo.

“You were attacked.  Now, don’t move or you’ll mess up my stitching.”  And suddenly Greg could feel the tug on his side as Doctor Mochrie worked on him.  He hissed in pain.  “I said, keep still.”

The sound of spurs on wood, then, “How’s he doing?”

“He’ll need to take it easy for a while, but he’ll live.”

Greg craned his head so he could look at Ryan who’d just come in.  “You get the bad guys?”

“I got the bad guys.”  The sheriff confirmed.  “They were very vocal about everything… seems they were under the impression that you and Clive were involved and thought to teach you a lesson.  They actually thought I was going to side with them.”

Greg immediately tried to sit up at his words.  “Is Clive alright?”

Colin was pushing him down with a gentle but firm hand.  “Don’t move.”

“He’s fine.”  Ryan pacified him.  “He’s actually waiting outside right now.”

“Can I see him?”

“All finished.”  Colin declared, wiping his hands clear of blood.  He then helped Greg to sit up.   “Promise me you won’t over-exert yourself and we’ll let Clive in.”

Greg sighed in exasperation, but promised anyway.  Colin and Ryan exchanged a look that said more than words ever could and cleared out of the room when Clive flew in, trying and failing to hide his anxiety.  “Are you alright?”  He demanded impatiently.

“I’m fine.  Just a little roughed up.”

“This is exactly why we can’t be together.”  Clive exclaimed.  “I can’t watch you get hurt again.”

Greg shook his head.  “So you only said you didn’t love me because you didn’t want to see me get hurt?”  Clive gave a half shrug.  “Do you have any idea how much you hurt me when you said that?”

“I did the right thing.”  Clive insisted.

“No, you didn’t.  You took away my choice, and my choice would have been to stay with you.  I would rather go through this pain every day if it means I can be with you because it’s a whole lot less painful than living my life without you.”

“I can’t watch you get beat up or even killed because of me.”  Clive’s response was barely above a whisper, and Greg could tell that he wanted badly to give in.  Already, he was leaning in so that they were nearly pressed together.

“It’s a risk I’m willing to take.  What about you?” Greg closed the gap between them in a light kiss that Clive melted into immediately, answering Greg’s question for them both.  He pulled away reluctantly. “We’ll be careful next time.  I’ll only flirt with you when we’re alone.”

“I don’t know if you know how to carry on a conversation without flirting.”  Clive muttered.

“I’ll learn.” Greg smiled, knowing that he’d won.



Fin

Date: 2015-03-03 09:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rosedamask.livejournal.com
Oh my god, I had SO MUCH FUN reading this. Right from the very first word, even – I mean, the town’s called HATTRICK, jfc. That’s genius, and I love the whole town so much – you’ve populated it so beautifully, and I love all the ensemble touches. DOC MOCHRIE. DEPUTY WAYNE. Greg and Richard being bros! Ryan as a slightly more aloof sheriff bro! Mike the carpenter! Paul’s perfect deadpan entrance! The sheer amount of OH TONY NO that you've managed to fit into his appearances! Ryan winning all the poker! <3 Also, I love all the references to a fancy edjumacated university Greg, because I do find it really intriguing how smartness is such an aspirational thing for him, and it works SO well in this setting.

But my absolute favourite thing was the Greg/Clive - bb!Greg being adorable and rambunctious and willing to do all kinds of bad things all over the saloon bar, Clive accidentally talking himself into bed with Greg, and being so sweet when he's taking care of his poor hungover prodigal ex (He wasn’t sure if he should thank Ryan or challenge him to a duel for leaving him in the bartender’s care - :DDDD) - they're just totally lovely, and I think the ending was perfect for them. My favourite line would have to be Clive Anderson, owner and vigilant bartender for the Saloon, was not the most handsome man Greg had ever laid eyes on, but he knew that the magic of Hattrick had always been between the two of them - partly because I love how it picks up that quote from Greg where he's like "I love the other guys and they're my friends, but the magic I found on the British version was with Clive," and that's just the most adorable quote ever, but also because I love how it foregrounds the slight unexpectedness/oddness of their attraction, while still emphasising how lovely and enduring their bond is despite it all their differences. This is a really lovely gift, and I feel totally undeserving of such an amazingly generous take on so many of the prompts I left, but please accept ALL THE THANKS, because it made me very happy. <3

Date: 2015-03-03 09:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] roseofpain84.livejournal.com
Heehee, Greg and Clive conversing with each other and not flirting sounds kind of impossible indeed. :D
I love the fact the town is called Hattrick. And then there's also angst in the story. :-P

The image of Ryan as a sheriff is also pleasing me a lot and if there was ever going to be a spin off with the sheriff and the doctor I would definitely read it. :-P

Also, 'Your mine now' was great. XD

Date: 2015-03-04 08:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clayangel.livejournal.com
I would read that! ^_^

Date: 2015-03-04 08:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clayangel.livejournal.com
Clive without his words was a completely vulnerable Clive, and Greg was suddenly wondering what he thought about gags.—LOL, oh Greg. ^_^ Also, the fact that you named the town Hattrick is absolutely fantastic.

And there's something amusingly perfect about the phrase "Doc Mochrie." It just rolls off the tongue so nicely. In fact, I'm really enjoying all the occupations you've given people.

That was super cute! I enjoy a good AU, and this is just a fun atmosphere to stick the guys in. Very nicely done. ^_^

Date: 2015-03-17 07:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clayangel.livejournal.com
I think that a good AU captures the spirit/feel of the characters without having to rely on their usual setting to reinforce them. So while I definitely agree that most AUs are not as much fanfic to me as canon stories, I also think that a really well thought out and crafted one can be awesome.

Date: 2015-03-19 01:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] roseofpain84.livejournal.com
That's very nice to hear because I often feel I'm the only one who's not that huge of an AU fan. XD I obviously can't be the only one but sometimes I see way too many 'woohoo AUs are awesome' posts (on tumblr). XD

Date: 2015-03-10 08:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fta2008.livejournal.com
I love the wonderful place (Hattrick) think of the wonderful choice of time and place in this story, I love Clive and Greg with each other. Glimpses of Ryan and Colin always be adding adorable. Richard / Tony beautiful actually.
Thank you on the story Beauties @ __ @ ^ _ *

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