Title: Black Leaf Falls
Length: ~2000 words
Warnings: Slash, Depression, Unbeta’d (as per usual)
Summary: Marcus returns to Black Leaf Falls and all the memories it holds. Modern AU
A/N: I wrote this fic a while back now, but it never really got any attention, and that makes me really sad. I like it rather a lot out of all The Eagle stuff that I’ve written, this one’s a personal favorite.
This fic is based off of Black Leaf Falls by Sea Wolf and I highly recommend listening to it before/after/during reading. I know a lot of people are really wary of songfics, but give it a chance por favor?
Marcus pulls into the nearly empty parking lot and kills the ignition, the cold outside immediately beginning to permeate the artificially dry heat of the car. Without the throaty wheeze of his engine, the area is eerily quiet and it sets him on edge, jumping at the slightest sound. He stares out the window at the dense, damp woods that surround the building. They are meant to give the upscale hotel a sense of calm seclusion, but all he feels is caged and perhaps even a little threatened. He knows he should leave the car and head to check in, get out of the frigid fall air before he catches something, but his limbs feel heavy and his mind is foggy- occupied with other things.
2 years ago
Marcus stands in the corner of the crowded ball room. A mass of bodies occupies the center of the humid room, all undulating with the beat pumping out of the stereos housed on either side of the stage at the front of the room. Several people have tried to draw him into the crowd, coming over to his secluded corner and trying their most winning smiles and flashing provocative eyes, only to turn away seconds later when he ushers them away with his surly demeanor.
A year ago he wouldn’t have been caught dead nursing a drink in the back like those kids that were too socially inept to find a dancing partner, but a year ago he was the starting quarter back in his junior year of high school- a real up and comer. Then he had gotten into that horrible car accident while out drinking and celebrating a victory with his friends. Now, he was just the anti-social gimp scowling at everyone from his self-imposed isolation. He couldn’t stand the pity in their eyes when they compared him to what he once was when he returned to school for his senior year, and he couldn’t stand the way everyone immediately greeted him with an apology here at Black Leaf Falls hotel.
Marcus finally makes it to his room and drops his duffel bag unceremoniously onto the garish paisley carpet. The room is done up in deep reds, browns, and golds. He supposes it’s meant to make it look plush and grand, but he still thinks it makes everything seem musty and decrepit- just as he did during his first visit those two long years ago. He feels so exhausted he plops onto the bed, laying on top of the cover and pressing his face into the flat pillows that should have been replaced months ago. He is almost content when he thinks he’s finally going to get some much needed rest, but as he breathes deep, he realizes the cleaning service must still use the same kind of soap. The bed reeks of that artificial fresh linen scent with a faint hint of lavender and the whole thing pulls at his heart achingly. It reminds Marcus of him.
2 years ago
Tired of the overly synthesized music and watered down punch, Marcus finally works up the motivation to focus on heading outside as opposed to scowling at anyone who so much as looks his way. His good leg tingles, asleep from disuse and he has to shake it out before moving, needing at least one of them to work in order to keep his bulky frame upright. He struggles with the damnable thing for a good minute before he’s confident enough to rely on it and then limps out, relishing the fresh air, even if it is a shock to his lungs. He stands there for a moment, just letting the chill work through his sweat damp clothes, not caring much whether or not he gets sick. Perhaps his parents won’t drag him through the rest of the “spontaneous” trip that he knows full well was meant to raise his dwindling spirits.
After debating the pros and cons of a mild case of pneumonia he starts walking back to his room, deciding he had enough of a hospital room to last him a life-time. He limps through the dimly lit parking lot, one hand clutching at his scarred thigh, the other jammed deep into his pocket. He thinks he’ll lie in bed and watch some trashy reality tv with a bit the alcohol he’d managed to pilfer from the various events going on around hotel. Perhaps if his parents aren’t back yet he’ll make it an even trashier porno. That’s what you do in hotel rooms by yourself right? He pauses for a moment to let out a low hiss and massage his thigh as his leg screams in protest at the too sudden change of temperature.
Just as he’s coming to decision on the second rate cable, fingers massaging the lumpy scar tissue, a stilted shadow throws itself across the lot. He looks up, ready to properly cow whatever poor bastard happened to catch him in a moment of weakness. What he sees makes his breath catch in his throat and his mouth go inexplicably dry. A relatively short boy leans against the bathroom door, his hip just touching the beige metal to keep him steady as he cups his hands around the cherry glow of a fresh cigarette. The boy is wearing baggy cargo pants and a worn sweater, the collar sagging and exposing much of his shoulders, the sleeves too long, stretches across his knuckles. Time seems to slow and the moment goes on for what seems like forever. The red glow emanating from his palms emphasizes the stubble that peppers his cheeks and jaw, turning the bangs that hang in his eyes a warm bronze. His eyes are a fierce blue, his chapped lips a muted pink, wrapped firmly around the filter. After a moment too long Marcus remembers to breathe.
Marcus takes a walk around the halls and lobby, hoping it’ll tire his mind and allow him the sleep he so desperately needs. Whatever peace he thought he might find eludes him as nearly every room, ever piece of furniture, every fixture on the walls and ceiling bring him back to better days. He moves deeper and deeper into the bowels of the hotel, the places he passes becoming less and less frequented by the other patrons. The hotel isn’t as popular as it once was and their increasing lack of income comes out through the upkeep of the place. Marcus soon comes across dusty table tops and carpet with dead, brown leaves ground into it.
Off in the distance he hears rain start to beat against the windows and hobbles to the nearest one. Outside the day is grey and tired, mirroring his inner self. A single, perfect leaf sits in the window sill, turned black and rotten with age. He remembers placing it there what seems like a small eternity ago, stealing it from Esca’s careful hands and twirling it about by the stem. Back then it had been a vibrant orange and the harmless teasing had earned him half-hearted punch to his shoulder and a mischievous grin. When he picks it up and twirls it now, the edges start to crumble, but there’s no chastising words or playful blow. He misses the lilt of the voice, the crisp accent and he would give anything to hear it again. He presses his face to the cool glass and asks ‘Why?’ to no one in particular. He is disappointed but not surprised when no reply comes.
2 years ago
One of the kid’s arms drops away from his face as he takes a long drag from the cigarette and lets the smoke curl out of his mouth and nose in smooth, writhing tendrils. For the first time he seems to notice Marcus staring at him from across the lot. His eyes are harsh, a sneer pulling at his lips, his stance pulling out of relaxed and moving straight into predatory. He looks downright feral and it sends a hot shiver racing down Marcus’ spine. “Oi! You!” For some reason Marcus isn’t surprised by the accent or the threatening tone it rides on. He is no longer cold as he stands up as straight as he can manage and does his best to lessen the limp in his gait.
He waits for recognition to cloud over those impossibly clear eyes, for the other boy’s posture to change, his face to grow apologetic, but it never does. When he finally reaches the other boy he’s just as wary and skittish as before, looking like he’s going to strike out or possibly run, he just hasn’t decided yet. Marcus thinks he sees a flush cross his face as the wiry boy gives him a lingering once-over, but he can’t be sure. And he thinks that this isn’t the kind of guy that he should be taking too many risks with. “You make a habit of staring at folks like that? All creepy and menacing under street lamps like that?” the question seems so unbearably genuine that Marcus can’t help but laugh. It’s loud and ugly and probably inappropriate and it feels good. Marcus hasn’t felt this good for nearly a year now. After looking a little taken aback, the other boy can’t keep away the grin that is splitting his face, no matter how hard he’s trying. “Well if you’re gonna be starin’ at me like that I suppose you’ll want my name at least.” Marcus wipes away the tears that have gathered at the corners of his eyes and nods, out of breath. “‘M Esca.”
Marcus isn’t sure why he’s here, why he felt compelled to do this, but now he’s squatting at the edge of the nearly frozen river on the edge of the forest. He’s cradling the pathetic, dead leaf in his hands as gently as Esca did, certain the sad, little thing is supposed to be symbolizing something. If he thinks hard enough, he can still remember the feel of his skin, rubbing smooth and insistent against his own. He can remember the warmth of his wild locks as he buries his face in the sun-heated tresses after an evening watching the sun set. He remembers the ghostly tickle of his breath as he whispers secrets against Marcus’ chest, blue eyes vulnerable as they only are when they’re alone. He remembers all the ways Esca said ‘I love you’ without uttering a single word.
But it’s been a year now and everything’s slipping. It’s all pulling away from him and he doesn’t know how to get it back. The feeling is terrifying and he feels like he’s drowning. He’s struggling, fighting, giving it his all, but he can’t break the surface and sooner or later he’s going to run out of air. With one last touch he places the leaf on the surface of the water and watches as it sails away, staying crouched there until he can’t see it anymore.
2 years ago
That first night they did many things- some wild and crazy, some slightly illegal, and some quiet and poetic in their rebellion, but what he remembers most is laying on a bed of leaves, staring up at the night sky. Esca lies beside him, blowing smoke rings more for Marcus’ entertainment than his own. They don’t say anything, just lying with their knees bumping and shoulders rubbing together. Marcus can hear a river babbling somewhere off in the distance and he resolves to take Esca to see it tomorrow, remembering a particularly fiery orange tree growing on its bank that he thinks the smaller boy will appreciate. Something warm is blooming in his chest and he feels sappy for thinking it, but it makes him smile nonetheless. He doesn’t remember how long they stayed there, just reveling in the presence of a kindred spirit, but at some point Esca’s knuckles brushed against his and he lightly takes a few of his fingers in hand. He thinks maybe things are gonna be okay.