Characters: Raylan/Boyd (Slash)
Summary (Pre-Series): In Harlan, nighttime changed everything.
Author's Notes: For the 5_prompts Table 31 picture prompt below, and for writers_choice ("shine").
In Harlan, nighttime changed everything.
It wasn't just the way darkness covered the things that were ugly and uneven—the broken-down trucks, the peeling paint on weatherboard houses, the shattered windows and busted doors on what must have been half of that godforsaken town.
At night, the moon came over the mountain and the air sparked with the magic of lightning bugs. At night, there was room for hope.
By the end of high school, Raylan left the house after dinner more often than not. He'd found by then that the best way to avoid a beating was simply not to be around. Dinner was when his daddy would start drinking, and he'd get drunker and meaner in the hours to come. Raylan tried to make himself scarce, staying out late until after the time his daddy usually went to bed.
Before long, he saw that he wasn't the only one roaming around the roads and woods near Harlan after dark. Half the time, Boyd Crowder was out doing the very same thing.
He and Boyd took to meeting up and driving to the ridge or out to the lake. They'd sit in the back of Boyd's pickup truck watching the stars and passing a jar of moonshine back and forth between them. They killed a lot of time that way, Boyd no more in a hurry to get home than Raylan was, for much the same reason. The irony of the two of them drinking to wipe away the memories and misery associated with their own fathers' drunken rages was not lost on Raylan. But Harlan was what it was, and his and Boyd's options were severely limited.
Jelly-jar 'shine was about the finest Harlan had to offer, and you had to find happiness wherever you could—even if it was only a sorry excuse for escape that somehow helped you survive until the next day.
"This is real nice, just being here," Boyd sometimes said, and Raylan grunted his agreement. Peaceful, he thought Boyd probably meant, and just about anything would have been, compared to what was waiting for each of them at home.
The two of them were out at the edge of the woods one night, where trees met meadow and moonlight turned the grass a silvery white. Lights floated and blinked in random patterns all around them, like memories from another time.
"I used to catch tons of those critters in jars like this, when I was little," Boyd said. He toasted Raylan with the jar of 'shine, and took a healthy swallow.
"I suppose we all did," Raylan answered, but his attention was drawn to the way Boyd's eyes glowed in the dark, the gleam of them every bit as captivating as the lightning bugs all around them. There was an edge to Boyd even when he seemed relaxed, something alive and unpredictable beneath the surface. Volatile, Raylan thought.
"Things sure seemed a whole lot simpler then, didn't they, Raylan?" Boyd looked at him with something like pleading in his eyes.
"Seemed, yeah," Raylan said. But when you had a daddy who beat on you, it was a lot more confusing at the age of eight or ten than when you were seventeen and knew it was because your daddy was an asshole who didn't care about anybody but himself.
Boyd leaned in and kissed Raylan then, swift and sudden, because Boyd was the kind of person who had to make everything complicated, no matter how someone else might have wanted it to be.
Still, it must have meant something that Raylan didn't say No. "It's just the two of us out here, Raylan," Boyd whispered.
Complicated was looking about as simple as anything, just then. Raylan decided he was willing to take a chance on it, even if it turned out later that he was wrong.
-------- fin --------