FIC: Finding the Reasons [R, 1/1]

Title: Finding the Reasons
Author: [info]dmitchell1985
Fandom: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Pairing: Abraham Lincoln/Henry Sturges
Rating: R
Summary: Though doubt can dog one’s steps, sometimes it isn’t enough to halt the progression of one’s feet and decide the course of one’s mind.
Word Count: 3,541
Disclaimer: I don’t own any part of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
Author’s Notes: This was written for montislupus for the Abery 100 Celebration on GuidedAxe who wanted ‘internal conflict’.




PROLOGUE



Abe could hear the crackle of flames behind them as it consumed the wooden boards of Henry’s cabin. The sounds of shattering glass crept amongst the snap and pop of the fire as it sang out its certain victory and Abe pushed himself to run faster still away from the mob that pursued them.

He could not believe that he had allowed his lust for knowledge and revenge to get the better of him. He could not believe that he had allowed his curiosity and Henry to lead him astray. And, he could not believe just how easily he had given in to very things he had always been warned against.

When he looked back on this night years later, Abraham hoped he would be able to make sense of the reason why he had chosen this path.



***




Sexual deviant!

Sinner!

Pervert!

Abe had heard the ugly slurs and seen the punishment meted out to those men that lay together like man and wife. To some, there could be no baser crime than to permit a man’s lips to touch that of another man, to permit men to find any measure of forbidden comfort in one another’s bodies.

Abe had once believed as his mother and father did about the ways of men that consorted in a manner that defied the word of God. He had held their teachings to be absolute truth up until the evening he had espied two of his father’s visiting travelers behind their barn from his nightly perch. The initial disgust rose in his throat as he watched them kiss one another, while their hands fumbled in the fabric of each other’s clothing.

He wondered then if they knew that God would smite them for their unnatural transgressions against him. The longer he watched them together, the more intimate their touches became and the more articles of their clothing fell to ground to be forgotten. Their touches were so gentle, like they were afraid of hurting one another. It was a sweetness that Abe had only seen in the times that Mother and Father thought themselves to be out of their children’s sight.

Abraham had felt the first stirrings of doubt forming in his mind as he found himself helplessly comparing these strange men to Mother and Father. He wondered if it would be him that would incur the wrath of the Lord for witnessing their shame. He wondered if perhaps he, Mother, Father, and the rest of their town were the ones in need of punishment for judging men like Father’s visitors so harshly.

He couldn’t find the answers to these questions in himself and his turmoil was not lessened by turning away from the sight of one of the men sinking to his knees in front of the other. He’d pressed his eyes closed against the sight of that man’s head bobbing in between the other’s legs and the faint moans that followed in its wake.

***


It chilled him to be discovered in the same predicament by a boy no older than he had been that night not nearly long enough ago. Flustered as he was, it took Abe only moments to recognize Micah, who lived in the town nearest to Henry’s cabin. He saw the same doubt and disgust warring in the boy’s eyes that he’d felt clash inside his own chest. It was the very same doubt and disgust that he could feel trying to reassert themselves inside of him as he drew a breath, and then the next.

Henry jerked back as far as he could on his knees as he turned and met the accusing stare of the boy before them. Abe felt his body lurch back defensively at the sneer that was slowly forming on Micah’s face. The wisps of a cool breeze spread across his exposed flesh that was still slick with Henry’s spit and he hurriedly scrambled to conceal his body from view with his hands, but he knew that it was already too late.

The boy had seen so much more than Abraham had ever wanted anyone to see of him.

Abe reached for his tangled drawers and trousers as he watched Micah turn and run back the way he’d come through the trees. With the briefest glance back at him, Abe watched Henry dash off after the boy to slow him from his direct course back to town. Abe could only sigh in frustration with each slip of every button into its rightful place. He turned to give chase after Henry and his prey, but was stopped by the sight of Micah’s abandoned axe upon the ground.

In his shock to find himself and Henry caught unawares by any footfalls or twigs broken by the boy, he hadn’t noticed what Micah had been carrying or why he had been out in the furthest woods from the town. He could only guess that the boy had been searching for a fallen tree to chop for firewood when he must have followed the sounds he and Henry made no attempts to quiet. For who would possibly find them this far out in the woods in the middle of the day?

Abraham could hear the answer to their carelessness noisily stomping through the woods in a vain attempt to outrun Henry. Seeing that he had no hope for any other option, Abe knelt down to retrieve the fallen axe, sighed once more, and took off after the pair.

***


Abe ducked around reaching tree branches and prickly bushes that tore at his clothes and hair. He jumped over slight pits along the ground and errant animal tracks alike. Still, he could not find the place where Henry and Micah had disappeared to. He turned in a slow, tight circle to search for any tracks or disturbed foliage he might have missed in his blind pursuit.

Seeing none around him, Abe retraced his steps and came to two sets of footprints that curved off to his right and had been overlooked in his flight. He carefully stepped over the crushed flowers and blades of grass that were mashed into the imprints of a man’s feet and that of a child’s to follow their lead. He could only hope that Henry had caught up to Micah before he made it back to town with his provocative tale.

Abe found that he needn’t have worried for a second, because he could hear the low, but clear, tones of Henry and Micah whispering to one another.

He pushed through the last of the bushes to find Henry kneeling at Micah’s eye level.

“Micah, it is very important that you do not tell others what you saw me and my friend, Abraham, doing out here in the woods,” Henry said gently and gave Micah’s shoulder a squeeze for emphasis.

Micah’s eyes flickered to Henry’s hand and back at his face in revulsion. He raised his chin and put his shoulders back before parting his lips to respond.

“If it’s so important for no one to know what you were doing, why were you doing it out in the middle of the woods? Why has no one ever seen your friend before the last two weeks?” Micah quirked his eyebrows when he was done speaking, as if to ward off any excuses they might provide.

“You haven’t seen Abraham before, because he’s only visiting me for a short time,” Henry stated evenly. “And we were out in the woods, because what we do privately is not for everyone else’s eyes. There are some things that adults do that are not for children to see and are not the business of other adults. Do you understand?”

Micah shook off Henry’s hand and took several shaky steps backward before responding. “I understand that what you were doing was a sin before the Lord and disgusting. You wait until I tell my father!” Micah’s voice rose with every word and his cheeks blushed bright pink in his agitation.

Abe looked from the boy to Henry and back again. He was sorely tempted to reach a hand out to give the child the smack to the mouth he would have received if he had ever spoken to his father, or any adult, that way. He glanced at Henry to see which path he should take and noted the seeming calm that caused Henry’s jaw to tic in time to the heartbeat he had long since lost.

Abe closed his eyes and let out a strained breath to soothe his temper. There was so much that he wished he could do, so much that he wished he could go back and change. The first change on his list would be letting Henry kiss him that first night he’d been untied. He had thought that allowing Henry a small concession in exchange for a lifetime of knowledge would be so simple a thing. So simple, that it wouldn’t ever matter and wouldn’t ever go any further.

As they slid further and further along the dangerous territory they casually courted with each kiss that pressed forth into a lingering hug and every hug that devolved into Henry’s hands sliding over his body to touches and the discarding of clothing, Abe had wondered to himself why he had allowed it. Why had he allowed himself to get caught up in the little things that felt good that turned into huge things he did not know how to comprehend? Why had he allowed Henry to get close enough to him that he found himself sharing Henry’s bed instead of the spare that was being lent to him? He disregarded everything he had ever been taught and now he had to pay for his forays into the unknown.

“Micah, please,” Henry begged quietly, “I am asking you this as a favor to me. Have I not always been a friend to you and your family when I come into town to shop at your father’s store? Has Abraham not been kind to you when he helped you mend your broken toys and explained the meanings of difficult words in your books?

Have I not shown myself to be someone worthy of your respect and your silence in this one thing alone?”

Abe could hear the honest plea for their sakes in Henry voice and knew that if he had been Micah, those hopes would have more than likely fallen on deaf ears, just as he was certain that Micah would do the same. Right was right and wrong was wrong, or so they were all told from the word of God to the doctor’s medical journals Abraham only read in passing.

He opened his eyes at the sound of Micah surprising reply.

Wellll . . . when you put it that way, I guess so. But I don’t know why you were doing that to Abraham? Isn’t that gross?” Here, Micah wrinkled his nose in thought at what he had seen.

Henry chuckled and rubbed his hands together. “I suppose that it could be if I were doing it to just anyone, but I care about Abraham. When you get older, you will understand that things loving adults do together will not seem so scary or gross. One day, God willing, you will find someone that you enjoy spending your time with as much as I enjoy spending my time with Abraham.”

Henry turned then to gaze up at Abe with a spark of admiration that his heart could not bear to see. While he was confused and conflicted about what they should do next, Henry had no such reservations. Was it all a lie to Abraham? Was he simply trading on what Henry wanted to get what he needed in return?

Abraham didn’t know, but he pushed his internal wariness aside to pick up where Henry left off.

“I, too, hope that you find someone you enjoy when you are older. But, I have to ask you as well to keep what you saw to yourself as a special favor to all of us. Our lives and your own will be easier if what you saw were simply forgotten and were replaced with happier memories. What do you say to me helping you build a fort for you and your friends?” Abraham gave a tentative smile to show Micah that he meant no harm and would be good as his word.

Micah’s eyes were guarded as he nodded his head up and down. Henry rose from his crouch and smiled to see Micah’s acquiescence.

“What do you say we walk you back to town?” Henry offered and gestured between himself and Abraham.

Micah’s eyes grew large and he shook his head rapidly from side to side. “No! That’s okay! I can take myself back to town! I just need my axe. My father won’t be happy if I leave it out here.”

Abe glanced down at the axe resting against his palm and offered the tool to the boy with an encouraging smile. He barely suppressed a reactive flinch at the quickness the boy used to snatch the axe handle away from him. He understood that Micah was shaken up by his discovery and his race through the forest, but there was something in his eyes and the way he held himself that made Abraham skeptical that Micah would be able to keep his promise to keep their secret to himself.

Seeing that there was little either of them could do, Abraham silently stood by Henry’s side as he watched Micah slowly make his way through the trees back to the town.

***


“Do you think that Micah will keep his word?” Abe asked Henry as they wrestled in a clearing not far from Henry’s cabin. He attempted to shake off Henry’s hold around his chest and neck, but found himself flat on his back instead.

Henry pressed Abe’s wrists firmly to the forest floor, his knees tightly on either side of Abraham’s thighs, and peered down at him through his dark lenses. “No, I do not, but I can always hope that he will see reason and understand that we mean him no harm.”

Abraham grunted in his efforts to throw off Henry and only dug himself deeper into the moist dirt and scratchy grass beneath him. He squinted up at his captor and wanted nothing more than to be released at that moment. This was how it always started, and look where it had gotten them.

Henry leaned down and kissed the side of Abe’s mouth as he squirmed in Henry’s grip. Abe hated how quickly he gave in to Henry’s wordless requests and his body’s desire to experience Henry’s touch once more. He hated that as much as he knew he should put a stop to their extra training, as Henry sometimes called it, he could not find the will within himself to do so. How could something that felt so good and so right be despised by so many?

Abraham wished that he knew, because the little boy inside of him that watched those two men, who could have easily been himself and Henry, sorely wanted to know.

***


Dusk had fallen on them as they lay together in the forest, their real training abandoned for more pleasing sport. Henry had handily divested Abe of his clothing and then shed his own with little regard for where their belongings landed.

Without saying a word, Henry slid down Abe’s body to pick up where he had left off before they had gained their most unwelcome audience. Abraham tried once more to dig up the smallest measure of resolve to stick to their training just this once, but it was no use. Henry’s wicked tongue curled around the head of his cock and Abraham surrendered all thought of resistance. Why deny himself such a little thing when Henry was gladly offering it up?

And so, they had passed the time taking turns exploring one another’s bodies and letting their wrestling matches serve a purpose that Abe was coming to know and love best.

It was with these lighthearted thoughts in his mind and the shared smile of contentment that he and Henry made their way back to the cabin. Henry had stopped short first and listened for what felt like an age. When Abe attempted to ask why they had stopped and what Henry had heard, all he received was a bid to be quiet in return.

Henry’s face fell in on itself the longer he listened and Abe could feel his heartbeat speeding up in fear of what his friend would say next. If what Henry could hear could crush even his spirit, Abe knew that it had to be bad. It had to be really and truly more awful than he could imagine to see the agony on his friend’s face.

“What-“ Abe began once more.

“Abraham, please,” Henry whispered.

Henry screwed his eyes shut in painful concentration to listen to whatever was troubling him. As he stood dumbly at Henry’s side, Abe decide that waiting was no longer an option and darted away in the direction of Henry’s hilltop cabin. He could hear Henry calling for him to come back, but he didn’t care. If Henry would not tell him what was wrong, he would find out for himself.

Abraham heard the high-pitched whine of the flames and their gluttonous consumption of Henry’s home before he saw the destruction with his own eyes. He could hear the yelling of numerous voices taunting the ‘poofs’ that deserved to burn in Hell. He could also hear the frightened shrieks of Micah among the discord.

Abraham peered between the close trunks of trees and crowded undergrowth to confirm his worse fears. There must have been 20 or 30 men at least gathered on Henry’s hilltop surrounding his friend’s home with torches. He could just make out the shaking of Micah’s shoulders as he sobbed at the edge of the clearing away from the fire and felt himself grow angry.

If only they hadn’t been caught!

If only the damned boy had kept his word to keep his mouth shut!

But they had.

And he hadn’t.

Abe balled his fists up and did his best to restrain himself. There was little he could do to salvage Henry’s home or fight off the mob that was guarding its communal fire. Rationally understand his limitations did not temper the crowing rage that was swiftly devouring his reasoning and encouraging Abraham to face their would-be attackers head-on.

In an instant, Henry was by Abraham’s side weaving his arm around the crook of Abraham’s elbow to pull him away. Abe could hear him whispering platitudes about picking their battles and living to fight another day, but none of it mattered to Abe. Nothing mattered outside of the choices he’d made and the home of his friend he was watching burn to the ground. He wanted nothing more than to show these simpletons the error of their ways. And he could, so easily, if only Henry would help him.

How could a few handfuls of men stand against their joint might?

As though reading his thoughts, Henry stressed that rushing into a fight was not always the answer. Sometimes, he as a vampire and a lover of humans regardless of their gender had to accept the horrible parts of humanity with that of the good.

Abraham took a step out of the tree line and into the edge of the clearing. Perhaps if he could inspire Henry to fight, he might see things his way. This strike could not go unmet. They couldn’t simply run, because Henry felt it best to do so.

It didn’t take long for the mob to spot them and take up a cry for their heads. It took even less time for Henry to yank him back into the cover of the trees and into the darkening forest away from the flames and the angry faces of the men that had come to punish them.

It tore at him to turn and run, but there was little Abe could do to loosen Henry’s grip on his arm or to slow his feet from pounding the earth underneath him. He tried in vain to yank himself free as he simultaneously tried to convince himself that Henry had been worth it. He tried to convince himself that his time with Henry had been worth the mob that was now hunting them and had gleefully destroyed everything he and Henry owned, except for the clothes they had on.

Most of all, he tried to find the reasons why any of them had ended up like this. As he raced through the forest for the second time that day, Abe searched within himself for the reasons why what they had done was so wrong and why it should enflame the townsfolk enough to force their hands. He could not clearly see why, but he ran on regardless at the insistent pull of Henry’s hold upon him.

Though he could not soundly understand the mania of a simple book overtaking so many men at once, Abe swore not to rest until he discovered the truth of why for himself.

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April 2015

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