TITLE: Love Like Sleep
DISTRIBUTION: List archives OK, anyone else just ask. Archived on Elegant Slumming http://www.obsessedmuch.net/elegant_slumming/
SPOILERS: Set after the end of Season One Smallville. Vague spoilers for Smallville and Season Six BTVS.
CLASSIFICATION: Whitney Fordman/Riley Finn
SUMMARY: Time away from home can mean many things.
FEEDBACK: Think of it like karma.
DISCLAIMER: So many people do the owning and unfortunately none of them are me
DEDICATION: Happy early-birthday Y. g Thanks to Ali for the beta and Z for her help.
NOTES: I know, wtf? Riley/Whitney? I thought the same thing when I wrote it.
Whitney's never seen the ocean. There's something so inherently "small-town" about that fact that when he's told by his CO they're shipping off to the west coast he acts like it's nothing out of the ordinary. The fact that he hasn't ever seen it pretty much sums up everything he's trying to change about his life.
When they arrive at what is to be their base for the next six weeks, Whitney's almost sure he can smell the sea. Carried across from the coast. It's over an hour's drive away but it's the closest to the ocean that Whitney's ever been.
He still won't admit it to the other guys in his unit, he doesn't want to appear even more out of place but on his first day off he asks to borrow one of the humvees and covers the distance as quickly as he can.
Whitney really hopes the waters of the Pacific will wash away all the memories he still carries around in his gut. His worry about Lana, about Smallville. He's not surprised when it doesn't. He dries himself off with the towel he'd brought with him, pulls his clothes back on and just watches the choppy blue water as it breaks against the beach.
Whitney can imagine simply letting himself be taken over by it. To give in to whatever happens to him. The ocean seems to go on as far as the eye can see and reminds Whitney of how small and powerless he really is.
He was hoping for answers but like most things in Whitney's life, the more he looks for them the harder they seem to be to find.
There's one person who's new in Whitney's life that makes him want to stop looking. Somebody that, for two reasons Whitney should be avoiding. First off he's his CO and secondly he makes Whitney think about home. Well when Whitney can think at all, that is.
Finn reminds him of Smallville for one very good reason.
Whitney had thought it had just been a 'Clark' thing but now he's starting to think otherwise. He can't blame these feelings on repressed guilt because he's never tied Riley Finn up to a scarecrow. Naked and dewy with sweat in the half-light of early evening. Faint kiss of the last rays of sunshine across well developed muscles.
No, Whitney's never tied Finn up almost naked, but it doesn't make him stop thinking about doing just that.
"Don't... call me Riley, or at least Finn?"
"This is supposed to be a night off, remember?"
Whitney just smiles in response. Riley's the only one that can make him do that these days. Unlike everybody else, Riley doesn't lead to more questions.
Riley's got two bottles, one in each hand. When he puts one down on the slightly sticky table in front of him, Whitney can see the foam rise slightly out of the neck of it. It's hot in here. The room's noisy and packed with people. When Whitney reaches out for the drink, somebody jostles him from behind. Nothing intentional, there's just so many people in here and little room.
The others in their unit are all here, wandering around the bar. Hoping to get lucky. It's just the two of them at the table. Whitney thinks Riley understands him. That they have something in common because when Riley doesn't know Whitney's watching him he can see it in his eyes.
There's something there. He's seen that look in two places. He recalls that first look at the ocean.
The other time he sees that look, is in the mirror every morning.
He's doing that right now, watching Riley. At first he'd just written it off as lust and a stupid idea. You don't enlist and then hit on your CO but Whitney's starting to find it more and more difficult to not think about being very, very stupid.
Like now he can't help but wonder what it would feel like to touch him. To run his fingers through Riley's hair. Rub the pad of his thumb over Riley's bottom lip; let him take it into his mouth and suck on it. Tease it with his tongue. His thoughts don't stop there either, no matter how hard he tries to make them. Instead Whitney just takes a large gulp out of his drink. Possibly too much because he chokes a little and he can feel the bubbles bursting in his mouth as they threaten to escape.
"Hey slow down man, we've got all night."
Whitney can't help but wish they had.
He should in fact be feeling pretty stupid right now but instead he smiles. He's pretty sure it's got something to do with the way that Riley's patting him on the back. He knows it's just instinctive, an attempt to stop him from almost choking, but Whitney can't help but hope that it's more. He almost thinks about leaning back into the other man's hand but it's gone before he's able to pluck up the courage.
Whitney decides that's probably for the best because now he knows he's being stupid.
Instead he just goes back to watching.
Neither of them talk, Whitney knows he doesn't need to and in fact it's one of the things he enjoys most about Riley. Another reason he gravitates towards spending his free time with him. Neither of them feel the need to talk, to even mention where they're from. He has no idea what's in Riley's past that he doesn't want to talk about but Whitney respects that fact.
It simply means Riley won't ask Whitney about his own.
The next time they go into town, they leave the others at about 2 in the morning. Whitney no longer wears a watch but he's always reasonably sure of the time anyway. He's drunk probably a bit too much because his vision is slightly blurred and for a change he's feeling kind of happy. Almost content; except Whitney knows that that would imply a lack of worry.
It's not a lack so much as not caring.
When he looks up at Riley walking next to him he can see he's in pretty much the same state. They're walking next to each other across the gravel parking lot of the dive bar. It's the closest one to base and even though there's a place they can go there, the unit usually prefers to get away whenever they can.
Riley's head is down and his hands are in his pockets, slung low as he walks. There's something about him that makes Whitney think of Clark. He's not sure if it's the alcohol or if his rationale is clouded by the way he feels about Riley. About wanting to touch him, wanting to let Riley inside. Of wanting to know what he feels like, tastes like.
Whitney's acting on instinct when he stops walking. It looks like Riley's about to ask him what's wrong but before he can speak; Whitney closes the distance between them. Places one slightly trembling hand on each side of Riley's head and pulls him in close.
He's only thinking about Riley when he feels the heat of his body pressing against him. When he realises that Riley is now kissing him back. Lapping against the heat of his body like the cool water of the ocean. In a way it's grounding Whitney, just as much as it's setting him free.
Whitney knows he should stop, but he doesn't.
The two men kiss, wrapping their bodies against each other in the deserted parking lot.
Whitney's a little surprised they made it even this far. A motel room on the outskirts of town. It's not like they could have gone back to base but he'd still been surprised when Riley had suggested it. Whitney may be stupid but he's not a fool.
He hadn't even thought about saying no.
"Riley, I've... never..."
"It's Okay, Whitney. I'll make sure it doesn't hurt."
The curve of Riley's neck is shaped like a river that leads to the ocean. One that Whitney feels he could lose himself following. He never really wants to leave because that's where he feels safe.
He was originally surprised about that fact; that lack of worry. Riley makes him feel a lot of things but worry isn't one of them.
Alive. Content. Satiated and wanting.
So many things and almost every emotion that Whitney feels these days is attributed back to Riley.
Whitney follows the river of Riley's neck with the tip of his fore finger, sometimes with his tongue. He wants to lose himself there. For nothing else to exist but the warm feel of his skin. Heated contact as they touch and when Riley is sleeping like he is now Whitney presses himself closer. Gives in to those feelings because they not only feel natural, they feel like they're the only thing he could possibly do.
Like there's no alternative and that's exactly how he likes it.
When Whitney looks at Riley his mouth seems to go instantly dry. He hadn't really noticed it at first, had just written it off as coincidence but in the time they've been seeing each other, stolen moments away from watchful eyes, he's started to realise the fact.
Whitney can't help but lick his lips, swallow. It even brings a smile to his face and it's been awhile since anything has done that.
His mouth is dry now.
The two of them have left the rest of their unit. They'd gone out drinking again. It seems to be the only respite for the few days they actually get off. One day out of every thirty that Whitney is able to be himself. That Whitney actually feels alive.
When Whitney and Riley are alone together.
They still don't talk very much. Whitney's sure that Riley feels the same way he does. This isn't a time for words, it's a time for action and within moments of being alone they're touching.
Bodies jostling against each other as they fumble to remove clothes. Whitney's clawing at Riley's back, pulling at the rough fabric of the jacket he's wearing as they kiss. After only a moment it's pulled off, the same with his own clothing. Piled on the floor in an unruly puddle. They're naked and touching and where their bodies meet, slick contact of skin; there's a warmth that Whitney's not used to feeling.
Not even before he left Smallville.
The two of them fall into a slow sensual rhythm, a familiarity. This always seems so natural to Whitney, the way they both flow together.
Riley's tongue is in his mouth and Whitney's swallowing his moans. He can feel Riley's hands tracing lines down his back, long fingers gripping and kneading the flesh just above his ass. When Whitney thrusts back and forth against the length of Riley's body the moans get even louder.
The hard length of their cocks, already slick and pressed together. Cocooned in the press of their bodies as they rock against each other.
They may not share many words but some of them are important. Including the three short words Whitney whispers against Riley's chest when he curls closer. A soft voice over smooth skin, like water.
Riley sleeps but it doesn't matter to Whitney that he's unable to hear what he says. His lips brush the warmth of Riley's skin as he mouths the words.
Whitney's almost shocked when Riley does speak. When he says the words that Whitney's been hoping to avoid.
It's late, even later than they're usually away from base till and Whitney hadn't wanted to say anything. Didn't want to suggest they should be heading back because he really isn't surprised that the inevitable is finally upon him.
It's dark outside but a soft flicker of yellow light steals through a small gap in the curtains that earlier, Riley had pulled tightly shut.
For once Whitney can't even look at Riley.
He's resting his head on Riley's chest, the two of them lying naked in bed. Riley's body is warm and Whitney curls against him. There's a soft rustle of movement, a subtle shift of the covers and when Riley speaks, Whitney can feel his chest rising under where his head is resting against him.
"Listen, I've been thinking. Maybe we need to..."
He pauses and at least Whitney can tell that Riley doesn't want to say it, in the same way that Whitney himself doesn't want to be told.
"It's Okay. You don't have to worry about me, Riley. I'll be Okay."
But Riley had been wrong; the first time really did hurt.
The next time Whitney returns to Smallville he's able to tell his mother he's finally seen the ocean. Crystal blue surface that hides so much depth and so much uncharted territory. How like the surface of the water, he's changed, he's not the same man he was when he left.
Of course he won't be able to tell her why, he may be stupid but he's not ready for that yet. Instead he'll tell her about the first time he saw the Pacific.
She'll ask him about it and he'll close his eyes and be able to picture it in his mind's eye. He knows he won't be able to do it any justice, to recount any of the beauty that he's seen since he's been away from home. To put into words what's inside.
Nobody will understand him, not his mother. Nor Lana.
Whitney's finally seen the ocean but that doesn't mean he has any way of being able to understand it.
Also, why not join
Level Three, the Smallville all-fic list?