Author: Juxian Tang
Fandom: Harsh Realm
Disclaimer: Harsh Realm and its characters belong to Chris Carter, 1013
Productions and Fox Entertainment. No copyright infringement is intended.
Spoilers/timing: Reunion, the last scene, after the death of Hobbes' mother
Summary: Something doesn't happen.
Snow was floating down on his upturned palm; he saw it melt, the big
shapeless flakes shrinking and turning into little pools of water, but he
didn't feel the prickling of cold on his skin. He turned, reached his arm and
put it around Pinocchio's neck.
He knew what he was doing; it didn't happen spontaneously - nothing done
despite himself - and yet his mind seemed to be too numb to define his motives
clearly. He decided to leave it till some better moment; some moment when he
wouldn't feel as if there was a great, ever-encompassing emptiness inside him.
Emptiness that saved him from pain because there was nothing to hurt; but he
knew it wouldn't always be like this.
There was no indecision in his movement - he pulled Pinocchio closer almost
forcefully and pulled himself into the proximity of the other's body. So
deliberately - Hobbes knew it - nothing that could be interpreted as if he was
not realizing what he was doing, not controlling himself. No reason for
Pinocchio to take it as a matter of course.
And he was ready to be pushed away; nearly thought that it would be good if
it happened, that it might be what he wanted. To make Pinocchio be angry with
him - since he himself was not able to feel anger. There was something terrible
inside him, the realization of his own helplessness and pathetic inability to
change anything - there had to be - but it was kept deep down, buried there -
and it was choking him.
He'd let his mother die... he who was arrogant enough to almost believe that
he could save the world.
But yes, the world could be saved... it was cancer that couldn't be fought.
Hobbes understood it; a sober, intelligent part of him realized it. The very
part that couldn't hurt. The very part that made him reach for Pinocchio in
this intentional, almost obscene way. Mike didn't deserve it - Hobbes didn't
have the right to put his arms on his friend like something had told him he
wouldn't mind. Like there had ever been a sign of anything else between them
other than friendship.
It was too dark to see Pinocchio's face clearly; and Hobbes was too close
for it, anyway, holding him like this, in his clutching, too tightly wrapped
arms. It would be ugly if they started struggling - a silly fight; but, maybe,
he wanted silly. Maybe, it would make him feel better, feel anything. He braced
his body for it half-consciously and waited.
Nothing happened. Not for a moment that could be written off on Pinocchio
taken out of surprise, not for two or three. Seconds dropped in silence that
was so complete, snow-cloaked - until suddenly Hobbes understood he could hear
the fast light sound of Pinocchio's heartbeat.
Were they so close? That despite the layers of clothes - and despite Hobbes'
shame at his own half-hearted attempt of manipulation that was putting a
barrier between them not measured in inches - he could hear the sound of
Pinocchio's heart the same well as his own? It frightened him - and it
frightened him even more to realize that it made him feel something, he just
couldn't point exactly what, only that it was scalding. A brief glimpse of what
would be with him after his self-induced anesthesia leaving; one hell of hurt
under it. Unwise to wish for it, right? Yet he wished.
It all didn't make sense; standing like this under the snow - that started
thicker, flakes landing on Hobbes' eyelashes, making them heavy and sticky -
just in a few steps away from the house. With him clinging to Pinocchio like he
was holding on for his dear life. And with no response from Pinocchio; no push,
no hug. No movement at all.
But, maybe, Hobbes thought, it was the response. Moving was breaking
something. He didn't dare to do it; and Pinocchio didn't do it... for him.
He moved just enough to tilt his face up slightly and put his opened lips on
Pinocchio's mouth. Taking another step towards the point of no return. Friends
hug, don't they? Especially if one of them is wrecked by a loss. But friends
don't kiss each other with open mouths.
He'll ask me if I think he's a fag. Hobbes could imagine Pinocchio
say that; he would deserve the disgust in the tone for the assumption he'd
apparently made. For thinking that Mike wouldn't mind if Hobbes embraced him -
thinking that he could do it since he needed it.
But of course Pinocchio didn't say anything. How could he, with his mouth
locked on Hobbes', opened for his tongue - kissing back? Gone too far... Hobbes
knew it - they both had gone too far; but he wanted to stop nothing.
The taste of Pinocchio's mouth was unfamiliar - unusual; male - the lips
soft and yet the feeling of the skin where their chins touched rough. More
salt, more tang - more real, if it could be said so - no mint of chewing gum or
toothpaste. But Hobbes kissed as he'd kissed mouths of the girls he'd known. It
was not so different, after all.
And it was not so important whom he kissed. A man... a friend... not
Sophie... In this world where he could see Sophie looking at him from the eyes
of his dying mother - was there anything as it seemed? Was he the one who he
thought he was?
And if everything was going wrong - what was so wrong with kissing his
friend in the dark misted by the white swirls of snow? Doesn't reckon. It was
not his realm, anyway. Never would be.
He moved his arms slowly, unclasping them - knowing that now he could: his
lips wouldn't let Pinocchio go all the same. And sensed a slight tremble, an
uncomfortable shift of Pinocchio's body reminding him with a pang of guilt how
battered the guy must have been. Hobbes' arms around him hardly made him feel
better - yet he hadn't done anything to show it.
He didn't unlock his arms completely, just made the tight ring a gentle one
and his tongue that tasted blood from Pinocchio's split lip slid lightly along
He was afraid to stop kissing; afraid of what might be said between them, of
questions asked that he didn't want to answer - and he knew Pinocchio wouldn't
want to hear answers Hobbes could give. He should've felt more shame for what
he was doing; using his friend, playing on what he'd taken for the attraction
in a sudden, unusual insight - and turned out to be right. He who had Sophie -
his child unborn yet - and it wouldn't ever change, no matter what. Just
because now he didn't have Sophie now - and his mother was gone, her body
vanishing in front of his eyes, her cooling hand dispersing in his grip. He
needed something to hold on - needed someone - warm and alive and flesh and
blood - or made of what stood for it in this realm. He wanted to feel again -
and Pinocchio was the one who had to help him.
Had to? Well, he could've pushed Hobbes away. He didn't. Only it didn't make
the things better either.
Hobbes broke the kiss suddenly, preparing himself to what was going to be.
Let it be. If they needed to look in each other's eyes, he was ready... He
didn't stand it. The deprivation of the contact was suddenly splitting painful,
something unthinkable, much beyond anything he could expect. His hands locked
on the back of Pinocchio's neck violently, pulling him closer again, his lips
moving frenziedly over Mike's face - his blinking eyes, his cheeks, his
forehead, the stitched gash, making Pinocchio give out a small sigh of pain.
There was the warmth and salt of his skin on Hobbes' lips and wet flakes of
snow, cold and tasteless - and Hobbes wanted it all and forever, even if he
knew that forever could go on just for minutes for him.
And that was when Pinocchio's hands locked on his shoulders, painfully
tight. The same tight as Hobbes had hold him just a little while ago, fingers
digging deeply into his muscles. Seeming frozen between the equal vectors of
trying to tear him away and pull him even closer.
He'll ask me if I am sure I know what I am doing, Hobbes thought.
Maybe, he wouldn't need to ask if he could see better, if it was not so dark
there. He knew Pinocchio was looking at him - and didn't want to know it.
What was he doing, really? Manipulating his friend ruthlessly? Trying to
resume a phantom of control - at least over that, over his own body. Ready to
go as far as to having sex if Pinocchio goes this far with him?
Even if all his need was burning in his head and his chest, nothing in his
groin. Even if... how would they do it? In the house where his mother had died
just minutes ago, even if her body was not there any more? Him closing his eyes
and seeing Sophie, his love... his wife, his redemption? How more wrong could
Only not doing it wouldn't be right either.
He didn't know that while he hesitated, while he thought about it, his body
answered it. Still so close to Pinocchio, their lips still in half-kiss. But
moving no more.
He didn't know it before Pinocchio let him go.
The grip on his arms slackened suddenly. And when he realized what it meant,
a wave of regret flooded him. Illogically; later he would think about it and
understand he should be glad. But he was not glad then.
For a moment between Pinocchio letting him go and taking him in the warm hug
of his arms Hobbes felt as if he'd lost something. Something else plus to all
Then it was just a hug - a right one - friendly - given and taken for
comfort. Hobbes' face was stuck in Pinocchio's collar-bone, the smell of Mike's
jacket leather and smoke and wetness - and gritting his teeth, Hobbes still
couldn't cope with a small growling sound.
The emptiness was gone; both of his hands and his heart. Now it was all
He felt Pinocchio's hands pat lightly over his shoulder-blades, an
embarrassed gesture, as awkward as it could be - and Hobbes could barely
believe that a few minutes ago it was so different. So free - and so intense
that it had sliced his mind open and left him bleeding. Bleeding and alive.
He felt snow falling behind the collar of his jacket, cold trickles feeling
uncomfortably before they soaked into his clothes. And he needed just one
moment more; rolling his forehead against Pinocchio's shoulder - just one
moment more of feeling him so close - his smell, his warmth - of holding on
him. And then he would be able to go on.
I am sorry, he wanted to say and didn't; the things like that - you
don't say them unless you want to evoke all the awkwardness of what happened
and didn't happen. He unclenched his fists from Pinocchio's jacket and
untangled himself, the breath of cold on his face almost burning. He saw
Pinocchio looking - not at him but somewhere in the midst of falling snow.
"It's time to go," he said softly and absently.
"Yes," Hobbes answered and was startled with hoarseness of his own