Title: Night Talk|
Author: Juxian Tang
Fandom: Lord of the Rings
Pairing: Boromir/Faramir, Aragorn
Warning: implied rape, implied incest, hurt/comfort
Disclaimer: The characters don't belong to me. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: Boromir needs to tell something. Aragorn can't help but listen.
"I'm so cold."
"Shh... I know. I'm sorry. We can't make a fire." Aragorn shifts closer to him carefully, pulling the cloak around him tighter. Boromir feels the source of heat of the other's body at his left side, where Aragorn settles against him gently, trying not to hurt him. This heat seems distant, not going inside his body. It doesn't help. But he knows Aragorn is right. It's too dangerous to start a fire. And he shouldn't behave like a baby. Does he have no patience at all - complaining like that?
He won't complain any more. He clenches his teeth because he's shivering so hugely that they chatter. It does little good, he just bites his lip through and tastes blood.
A warm, calloused palm touches his face. Brushes his hair away. And keeps touching, stroking. The fingertips are rough and the palm is hardened with a sword hilt but it is warm and very careful. Boromir didn't know Aragorn could touch so gently. Touch *him* so gently. There was gentleness in him for others - for the halflings, for his elven friends. Not for someone who defied him, and was a constant threat to the Fellowship, and finally brought them all into danger.
"Be quiet, Boromir." He's grown restless, and the hand strokes his face, in quick, light motions, reaching for him in his agitation. "Calm down. Look at me."
He opens his eyes. Stars are blue and distant far away above him. Aragorn's eyes are blue and close, looking down at his face and burning so brightly. His knuckles touch Boromir's face and the hand stills.
"It'll be all right. You'll be all right. In the morning everything will be better."
He doesn't think so. Aragorn shouldn't be here; others shouldn't be here. A short distance away, he hears the dwarf turn in his sleep, sighing loudly. Somewhere there, the elf must be as well, so quiet Boromir doesn't hear him, keeping the watch. And Aragorn is with him. Talking. Holding. And it's wrong.
Aragorn should leave. Should be chasing orcs to help Pippin and Merry, not wasting time - on him.
He wants to say that, and his breath is caught. Boromir has learned to know the price of every intake of breath for the last days. Almost every one of them is like a blade turning in his lung, yet the air is so sweet that he can't resist taking it. The arrows are removed from his body but it feels almost as if the arrowheads stay, and he can feel them every heartbeat.
Half a smile of Aragorn's lips, that has appeared there when he's opened his eyes, vanishes. Boromir struggles with his breath that doesn't want to go the right way, chokes him. Finally he copes with it - and says eventually something quite different from what he was going to.
"How... how can you touch me?"
Boromir feels a grasp tighten on his right shoulder, the unwounded one. Aragorn tries to hold him in such a way not to bother his injuries, not to touch where his shoulders are swollen from being twisted up for too long as he half-hanged on his wrists, half-knelt on the ground.
The hand touches his face briefly, before the answer comes.
"Would you feel more comfortable - if I didn't touch you? Would you like Gimli to come instead?"
Aragorn's arm stays half-wrapped around his body, solid and warm, even as he waits for an answer.
"No," Boromir whispers. "How can you... aren't you disgusted?"
It comes out hoarse, and shame is like a heat wave, going through his body and then leaving his even colder and more tired.
The back of the hand brushes against his cheek, touching his split lips.
There is so much in Aragorn's voice; he can say so much, just only with his name. Wariness, reproach, warning not to do anything stupid. Like that time when Boromir picked up the Ring on the snow - it was Aragorn's voice that made him snap out of the Ring's spell, not his hand on the sword hilt.
Too bad Aragorn was not there to stop him when he harassed Frodo, when he tried to take the Ring.
He hasn't paid enough for it yet.
This thought is bitter, so violent that his body contracts. A wave of self-hatred washes over him. What he's done... nothing would be enough to pay for it. He already knew it when the arrows entered his body, and knew that despite pain, despite death coming closer - it still was not enough to become redemption.
He knew it was not enough even as he fell into darkness, crumbling on the ground in front of the creature that aimed at him, hearing pitiful cries of the halflings being carried away.
"Boromir." Aragorn's voice is soft and quiet, and it is the only thing that can reach for him when those images threaten to overwhelm him, to become the only thing real to him. "I can never be disgusted with you. What was your fault - you redeemed it, fighting bravely. And the rest... it is not your fault."
But it taints him as much as his broken oath does.
He takes a shuddering breath, hands moving convulsively, in a strange motion that is half an attempt of shielding himself, half of pushing something away, something that is not there.
"Shh." Aragorn's arm wraps around his chest, trying to prevent him from moving. "Careful. You'll hurt yourself."
Under the cloak, Aragorn's hand catches his, holding it slackly. It's odd; a while ago Boromir hasn't felt his own hands at all. He could see them, in a dull light of the moon - swollen, claw-like, unclenching, skin on the wrists taken off completely. But now it feels like a thousand needles enter them - and they throb, and feel huge and even more swollen.
But he also feels Aragorn's thumb running softly over the heel of his palm.
He takes a breath, deep, one more, getting dizzy with pain. Shouldn't shame himself even more. Shouldn't make a show out of himself. Shouldn't make it more difficult for Aragorn.
"I'm sorry," he says.
The hand strokes his face.
"My brother," he says, "Faramir... you know my brother... I told you about him."
"Yes," Aragorn nods, "of course I know."
It hurts to talk, and he should stop talking nonsense, should let Aragorn rest, not be more a nuisance than he already is. But he needs to say it.
"He is not... like me. You'll love him when you meet him. Please... be kind to him."
"We'll meet him together."
Oh how much he wants to. It's tearing him apart, the thought of it, the wish to see Faramir again. To feel Faramir holding him in his arms, his chest warm, his hair soft and messed up, his eyes grey, serious and gentle.
Yes; gentle... Faramir won't look gently at him any more. Faramir seems to be able to look right into your heart.
"I... I can't."
"There is no reason why you can't, Boromir."
"No, you don't understand..."
Faramir will know; will know everything. No one will even have to tell him. He will just know, just from one look.
He's desperate to make Aragorn understand. Every breath feels as if he's breathing in embers. Or needles. But he still talks. Maybe Aragorn will understand.
"He thinks I will do everything right. I... I promised him. I can't meet him... when I've done everything wrong. When I failed so much."
He knows death was too good for him. But death would have made everything so much easier. He hoped for it every hour and every minute, after coming round in the orcs' camp, two nights ago, his hands bound and a bitter potion trickling into his mouth. And the Uruk-Hai that had sent those arrows at him stood over him, smiling his crooked smile of yellow fangs, his foot pressing on Boromir's shoulder.
He hoped for death when being prodded and marched by the orcs on their way - and inhaling needles with his every breath - and waves of darkness washed over him at every step. But there was no escape. No escape from everything he'd done. Frodo's horrified face looking up from the ground at him as he attacked him - the small hobbit, not bigger than a child - how could he try to harm him? And Pippin and Merry, their faces white with shock as he couldn't, couldn't get up on his feet any more, no matter how he tried - as he left them without protection.
He kept seeing it, the visions etched into his mind and never really leaving him alone.
But there were moments when his mind played even crueler tricks to him. And then he was with Faramir, back home, seeing his reflection in his brother's smiling eyes, seeing Faramir come running to meet him. And nothing was wrong yet, nothing was broken. His oath was not broken, and he was not broken yet.
But then he came round and knew the truth: nothing could be undone. He'd done it. Destroyed everything.
"I want to see my brother," he whispers. The words come ragged because he shivers too hard and because he doesn't want to say them. "I miss him so much."
"I know," Aragorn says.
Aragorn's hand is kind touching his cheek, and something in Boromir craves for this kindness, even though he knows he doesn't deserve it and has no right to receive it.
"But I don't know if he wants to see me," he says. "Like that."
He isn't the same any more. He isn't the man who left Minas Tirith all those months ago - the man his brother was seeing off. That man was not an oath-breaker.
That man was not a plaything for Uruk-Hais.
He didn't expect to live after that. After all, it's why they did it. They said he would die by the morning anyway, so there was no reason why not to damage him more.
He remembered icy air on his skin, and how his shoulders were wrenched up as if there were two daggers thrust into them, and the rope cut into his wrists bone deep. He remembered grass and sharp pebbles under his knees, cutting deeper as another body thrust its weight over him. He remembered how every breath became more and more difficult to take, and he wanted it to stop altogether but something in him didn't let go and he couldn't help but breathe. And he remembered pain.
He doesn't want to think about it.
He is so tired but he can't close his eyes because then he starts seeing it. He doesn't think it will ever go away but he is too weak to dwell on it right now.
He wants to see something else. Aragorn's face looking down at him is pale and tired against the starry sky. There are dark streaks of blood on it, smeared - Boromir doesn't know whether it is Aragorn's blood or orcs. His hair is sticky and looks almost black. He can't smell orcs' blood on Aragorn even though he knows it must be here. And he doesn't know if Aragorn can smell them - all over him.
The palm is warm cupping his cheek.
"Of course your brother will want to see you," Aragorn says, and despite softness there is complete certainty in his voice. "I know he will."
There is something in Aragorn's voice that he can't resist. When did it get such power over him? Boromir can't help it - he can't disobey.
It's Aragorn's voice that brought him back - brought him back when he thought he was already free to go.
He remembered another body over his, the additional weight nearly twisting his shoulders from the sockets, claws entering his upper arms to hold him in place. He didn't know which one of the creatures it was. He thought he wouldn't cry, again, and failed again, a harsh sound wrenched from him at the first moment, even if later he managed to keep silent through the rest of it.
He'd never known it could be like this. He'd never been on the receiving end before. Not the elder son of the Steward. It would be improper, wouldn't it? He always was on top - on top of things, everything always was as he wanted to.
And Faramir... If they had ever come to doing it, what they were going to - he knew Faramir would submit to him. Because it was this way between them, Faramir always gave in. But he would have never hurt his brother like that, would he?
It didn't make sense, all these thoughts, because he was not going to see Faramir. Because when it was over, he would be dead.
And it helped him to keep his mind from snapping.
And then the claws tightened on his shoulders, and he felt the creature behind him jerk, and heard its roar, felt it tear out of him.
It was all over very quickly. The soft buzz of arrows, and clashing of swords that looked like lightnings in the darkness that stepped around him. And a sword whooshed above him, and the rope was cut, and his arms fell...
He crumbled over his knees, having no strength left, and the burning blade in his lung cut so deeply that it seemed impossible to make another effort to take a breath.
And he felt relieved.
Then shaking hands brought him back, touching, patting, pulling at him. Aragorn was in front of him, kneeling, and his hands were locked on Boromir's face, raising it, holding him so tightly that he couldn't slip away, no matter how he wanted to.
"No, Boromir, no, don't do it to me." The hands were insistent - but not so much as the brightest eyes that stared at his face, not letting him go. He thought at that moment that Aragorn looked almost desperate, and it was not how he'd ever seen him before. And Aragorn talked. "I can't lose you now, look at me, look at me, yes, that's all right, that's good, Boromir, everything will be all right..."
He couldn't disappoint Aragorn. He let himself give in to this voice.
And now he is there, wrapped in Aragorn's cloak, and Aragorn is with him, holding him, for hours.
"I'll bring you to your brother," Aragorn says. "I swear."
Boromir wants to say something else and knows that if nothing else has made Aragorn start away from him, then it will. But does it matter? Yes, it does; he doesn't think he'll be able to bear Aragorn breaking away from him, to be left alone in this impossibly cold night.
"Faramir kissed me," he says. "Or maybe I kissed him. Not like brothers, you know."
Just before he left Minas Tirith - he was already on his way, and then Faramir called for him - and he turned the horse and jumped down. And Faramir stood too close, and somehow... there were people around, but Faramir pushed him to a small shadowy niche in the wall - or maybe Boromir did it? And then there were Faramir's arms around him, tight like a lock and almost desperate, and his lips were on Boromir's lips, and their mouths joined - and it felt right.
It felt right, it all snapped in place then. As if an empty place in his chest was finally filled. It all made sense - years of his being alone, seeking for someone - and he was over forty - never having time for romance, for settling down - or maybe it's what he was telling himself... and Faramir, as lonely, as unattached... waiting for someone.
Now it was all made right, in this half a minute of their mouths linked.
He remembered how Faramir's mouth tasted, sweetness and ginger. Sometimes as he traveled, when it seemed there was nothing but woods or plains around him, Boromir thought about it. He carried this memory with him all those months as he searched for Rivendell.
In the snows of Caradhras, when the voice of the Ring started sounding in his ears louder and louder, he started forgetting it. But even then, trying very hard, he still could recall how soft Faramir's hair was plaited through his fingers.
Then, as their lips parted, Boromir said: "We don't have time now," - and he didn't need to say more because they both knew the rest of it.
"When you return, then, brother," Faramir said.
This promise was all he had - and now he was losing it.
Hate me, Aragorn, he almost wanted to beg. Because I can't hate myself enough. Hate me for what I've done and for what I let happen to myself, and for what I was going to do.
More than once, when another Uruk-Hai entered his body, he thought if a part of it was because he wanted something that he was forbidden. What if it was his payment for it too?
But then he would want to pay, if only Faramir were spared.
"Because I can't bear if something would happen to him..."
He says it aloud. Aragorn probably thinks him mad. And he's said too much anyway.
Aragorn's palm lies on his forehead, restraining him and strangely soothing.
"Quiet, Boromir, quiet," he says, and his eyes are sad and glowing. "Everything will be all right."
Has he even heard? Boromir has just told him that he is in love with his brother and wants more of it. How can it be all right? But there is something about Aragorn that makes him believe it.
"You will think about it when time comes," Aragon says. "When we come to our city and you see your brother."
And his voice is so soft and so promising, and it is almost impossible to resist it. It is the only thing Boromir wants to think about, wants to see the pictures that Aragorn's voice draws for him, the pictures of impossible attractiveness. The White City - and his brother who is so gentle and beautiful that it makes his heart ache.
Will he ever come there - will he ever see them? Flawed as he is, tainted, will he feel Faramir's arms around him again?
"We'll go there... together?"
"Yes," Aragorn says.
"And the halflings? Will we find them?"
"Yes. Of course."
"I have delayed you."
"No. We're following the tracks. Trust me."
He so wants to trust. To believe that everything will be fine, Pippin and Merry will be safe, and Frodo will succeed. He wants to believe that he hasn't destroyed everything. That he himself isn't destroyed.
Aragorn's face is like a pale star looking down at him, so bright it's painful to look at it. Boromir takes a hitching breath, feeling as if a blade twists in his lung again, and pain spreads from it in a dizzying, agonizing wave. He raises his hand, his fingers looking black and deformed - an ugly hand that reaches to Aragorn's glowing face.
"I trust you," he says.
His king's face is a star, even with the streaks of orcs' blood on it, and Boromir brushes his fingers over it, trying to wipe the blood. It doesn't come off, and his motion is shaky, and he is too weak even to keep his hand up.
But before it falls, Aragorn's hand captures it, squeezing just slightly, more cradling than holding - and brings it up, to his own face, pressing it to his cheek and to his lips, briefly.
"Thank you," he says.
For a moment Boromir can't understand why Aragorn is saying it, and then he can't believe. His hand jerks but as gentle as Aragorn's fingers are, they don't let it go.
"Rest," he says. "Rest, Boromir. Everything will be different in the morning."
It seems to him that the stars above have become a little paler, the sky growing dark grey instead of black. It's not such a long time to wait till morning, and he thinks he can do it. He can rest, for a while.
"I will stay with you," Aragorn says.