Yep, I finished it. Told you so.
I have to admit that when I started this story, I had in mind for it a certain mood or point, like many of my paintings. But, like every painting I've done, when the last brushstroke was completed I was left with something totally different from the scene in my head--and somewhat disappointing too. I was going to wipe it clean with a few good waves of water and just forget it, but, however, since I know myself to be my own worse critic I've decided to let the shrewd eye of the public take a glance. So, lemme know, yeah, I plan on scribbling out a continuation if the Mistress Muse is kind. In that part I hope to include some of the emotional issues that somehow never even touched base in this fic--for my own satisfaction, if no one else's.
Title: Whatever You Desire
Part: 1 of 2--I think.
Rating: NC-17. Y'know. . .for naughty language and stuff.
Archiving: Share and share alike!
Warnings: De-fi-nite-LY some homoerotic stuff going on here, yo. Strap the
kiddies with cowbells.
Disclaimer: I don't own them. Woe, woe is me. Ellroy is a mightily envied man. And though I make no insinuations to owning them, I will borrow them for a spell and they WILL sing and dance to my tune. (No Crowes or Pearces were harmed in the making of this fic.) Don't sue because legal confrontation makes me skittish.
Spoilers: Define. . .'spoiler.' Yeah, a few here and there, I think. Either from the movie or the book, a bit o' White Jazz info about Exley also included somewhere.
Summary: Bud White makes his presence in L.A. known by winding up in the Big House for a night. Guess who comes along? Dialogue ensues as does personal interaction and smut.
Notes: I tried not to slip into Ellroy's threadbare sentence structure' I really did. And, for the most part, I think I did fairly well in being descriptive. But it just seemed to fit in certain areas. Yo, deal with it, yeah?
Plus, the book only gave the M.I. I just tagged three more letters to it. Other details not included in the book or movie are strictly bullshit courtesy of me--as are all spelling and grammar mistakes.
Shitbird: insult of the era, apparently.
It's amazing how desolate the color gray can be. Cold, plaster-like cement that seems so weak that a sharp stare could chip it away. The heels of spit-polished loafers clacked out hollowed sounds along the walls. His strides purposeful. Hell, he was a man of purpose, wasn't he? Hurrying toward his destination with a little more vigor than was needed... But, how could he not look? That scribbled report bearing that name that jumped out at him. A name that had gone unspoken for years. …A leopard tightening its jaws about his throat and throttling. How could he not look? It'd be foolish not to look.
A deep breath to quash the illusion that the walls are creeping inward on him. A cursory glance at his watch for that preferred "preoccupied" look. Ed slowed, his fingers suddenly numb… Eyeing the tiger-striped, due to steel bars, scene.
The body lay prone upon the ragged cot. Tie crumpled up under the chin. A dark curl of mistreated silk on the stain-dappled shirt. How long has it been? He had his arm draped over his eyes in an effort to smother some of the severe light that bleached the cell walls. Heavy, well muscled limbs underlined with an eerie thread of elegance. His gray, tweed blazer coat lay caught beneath his feet at the end of the cot, cast aside in favor of comfort. The smell of souring alcohol was faint in the air.
"White?" He asked, or meant to ask. The breath exhaled to push his voice forth seemed to cower there at his lips, unwilling to leave his throat. Exley swallowed and leaned up against the cell bars. "White?" His question rattled sharply through the tiny cubicle, and the body upon the bed jerked slightly. Exley winced inwardly. Needles and pins…
With the sluggish movement that signifies a terribly cripplingly hangover, Bud adjusted his arm to squint at his inquisitor. So cocky, standing there that way, leaning up against the bars like a teen confident that the zoo animals wouldn't bite. Bud paused mid-thought and took a closer look. Well, if hell just wasn't full of surprises.
"Exley." The voice was rough and altered with sleep, sounded like gravel being gargled. A cough or two to clear the throat. Those mirror water eyes passed over him once. A smile. Just a slight one. Bud eased his feet over the bed and slowly sat up.
"It's been a while."
"Yeah." Bud rubbed at the back of his neck, feeling an arrow of pain ripple down the ladder of his spine. There was a moment of silence as White glanced about his cell then looked up with a faint smirk written over his lips. "Moving up in the world?"
Exley fished a set of keys from his pocket, shaking his head slightly. Exley slid the key into the lock: White stepped out as the cell door swung open, coat bunched in the nook of his arm.
The next procession of events entered a droll fusion: Firm handshake- Bud's hand cool against Exley's palm. A first good look at an almost crescent shaped scar perched on a cheek. "Lookin' good." "Wish I could say the same." Light, uncomfortable laughter. "How's Lynn?" Shadowed glance with shadowed eyes. Pausing to read each other's expression… "Glamour doesn't come in packages tied up in ribbon and lace. Neither does patience. People are who they are." Confusion fluttering on Exley's brow. Bud with cool detachment: "How 'bout a drink, cap?" "Chief, actually. And isn't that why I found you here in the first place…?" …Bud led the way down the hall, giving his overwrought coat a shake. Exley followed in silence.
Two years and a half hadn't changed Bud much, Ed decided. His hair no longer than before-he either had it cut constantly or it just didn't grow very much-, his eyes hard chips of sapphire, his mere presence intimidating and mountain immovable, as always. A solid contribution to a hard day's work. Still the guy they bring in to make Muscle Joe drool teeth and cry for his mother. Rehabilitation, Exley supposed, had went along just fine.
Two years or so had done a world of change for Ex, as far as Bud could figure. His hair longer, wisps of it straying here and there, those ludicrous glasses traded in for a more slender pair--something a little more conservative, something a little more concise. Not the same person he'd left him--The end of result of the person he'd seen budding through that night on the tufted carpet of the Victory Motel. A new persona formed under the duress of strenuous circumstances. Testing the moral fiber.
Mentally the two were sizing each other up--the hallway was coming to an abrupt end.
Exley's eyes, with nowhere else to go, watched the fluid movement of White's steps… One, after another, after another--the soft swish-swish of pant material. Ed had noticed, and yet, never really knew he noticed. The stride, that is… The way White carried himself. He had such an odd way of moving himself through open space; it was awkward yet inexplicably graceful at the same time. It was the barreled jaunt of a predator. Quick, clipped steps… And how it turned into a challenging swagger of a gait with arms swinging back when he was oozing with the confidence of physical superiority… //"Yeah? Oh, you think it means getting your picture in the paper? Why don't you go after criminals for a change instead of cops?" *Thump*//
Bud threw a questioning look over his shoulder. "Supposing you're through holding me."
Exley, summoned from his reverie: "Yeah. Just a little paperwork. You know how it goes."
A pause. A left down another hallway, then: "Unfortunately."
People flowing to and fro, phones rattling on their hooks at random intervals, the murmur of mingled voices rising and falling like the tide--smell of coffee slinking about the air reminiscent of cigarette smoke in a pool hall. When they had finally waded through detectives and desks alike into Exley's office, Bud had managed to ease out some of the kinks from his muscles. His neck as if it were bubble wrapper, popping fast with a sharp tug to the left. Edmund slipping behind his desk, shuffling through papers--risk of paper cut running high. White plopping down in a chair to ride out the wait. Seemed like the H.Q. of activity. The hubcap of the L.A.P.D. Things had changed here at the station--all except for the boys in blue scurrying around to make an honest, or dishonest, buck and maybe taking a bullet in the process. Lucky stiffs, all in all, as far as White was concerned. And Exley, he thought, reaping the benefits.
He glanced up to take notice of Exley who had his pen working, water swift, over numerous bottom lines. A tiny electric fan whirred its little heart away on top of a file cabinet--Bud imagined little tendrils of paper stuck to its grill. Anything to make the time pass. For reasons he couldn't quite conjure, Bud wondered if this was Exley's sole goings-on for the day. Playing desk jockey and running that pen, as he often did his mouth--pulling strings with the stir of paper. Then again, why did White even care? Didn't, just wonderin'.
Exley looked up suddenly, an air of professionalism being worn like a suit. "Causing a disturbance and destroying public property?"
White blinked, tilted his head to the side. "Fucker said something smart to the waitress, I rearranged his face with a beer bottle. A table got in the way."
"Delightful," Edmund said.
"Was at the time."
A soft chuckle. The fan in the corner: whir-whir. Someone picked up a muffled telephone somewhere beyond the door.
"I'm doubting you came back into town to thrash bar mongrels, so... what does bring you back this way?" The unvoiced: Where's Lynn? What happened? How is she?
The air in the room itself seemed to assume a somber tone. The bustle outside sounding more muffled than before--the steel fan sounding far less spry...
His brow marred by a crease of concentration, Bud worked at the pliable material of the chair's arm--searching for an answer that didn't sound quite so much like a cop-out. An answer that would make the fact that he was a vengeance-driven, heartless coward sound like a nicely turned phrase. An answer that would take the true-blue concept that he was a bastard and somehow make it debatable...
"It... It just didn't work out." Cryptic. Simple. Exley could make what he wanted of it. White didn't give a fuck. Exley was the last person he needed to explain himself to--or was he? Either way, Bud wished he had a bit of grandpa's 'cough syrup' to wash that statement down with.
Exley, thinking it over. It just didn't work out. Puzzling why his heart feathered an extra beat at that little bit of divulged information.
Ed, pushing the oddity aside for further examination at a later time, shifting a set of papers toward Bud--handed him the pen.
"Your John Hancock on the appropriate lines," Exley said, digging through his desk drawers now.
White snorted quietly, almost a scoff, and then made chicken scratch of his name a few times.
Exley sat up and slid White his wallet and car keys--hand lingering, too long, just a bit too long.
"Here, I'll walk you to your car. I had some of my boys drive it up to the station when I saw your name on the report." Exley had boys. Imagine that.
Edmund shoving signed papers into an unnamed folder--if he carried any methods over from his predecessors, maybe into file 13. Unlikely, however.
Bud stood up, straightened his coat and tie, and then proceeded to let Exley escort him to the front of the station. Out the glass doors, down the steps, spying out his '49 Dodge--a half lemon he'd purchased somewhere between here and Bisbee, Arizona. It was a god awful brown, and the radio didn't work, but it got him wherever the wind fancied he should be. The wind blew here, of all places--L.A. City of the angels. And maybe a few of the devils, too.
"So, where you staying?"
Bud looked up, a partial grin, just a little glint of teeth. "Right here." Rap-tap on the hood of the clunker he called his vehicle. Exley wasn't sure whether this was a jest or not.
"You're not serious."
"Yeah. I am." Bud leaning in the driver's side door, tossing a box-his belongings?-in the back.
Exley pictured Bud cramped up in back seat: pillow over his head to block the streetlamp, socked feet pressed up to the window, rousing in the morning bitchin' about neck cramps. Ed turned the idea over in his head, once, twice... Blurted out: "It's not like I don't own a couch."
Bud White leaned up--stared at him from over the car's roof, one eyebrow creeping up his forehead in something that looked like amusement. Exley scratching short-cropped hairs at the back of his neck, swallowing, feeling he'd stepped the line. Stupidity. "I mean, well, if you get tired of bunking down in the Hilton here." A gesture toward the Ford arm in arm with a sickly smile. Trying to play it off as a joke--he looked like his shoes were near to being polished with his breakfast.
Bud tilted his head back, his eyes dancing with a spark of mirth. One could almost hear the "Ah..." to accompany that movement.
Exely: on tenterhooks.
"Sure," Bud said.
"Sure," Exley echoed, sounding a bit on the stupefied end. He fumbled with a scrap of paper-a napkin from an earlier meal-and a click pen ferreted from his person. Leaning up against the automobile, scribbling fast. Looking awful nervous there, Sunny Jim. Ed jammed the pen in his pants and held out the slip of paper, swallowing visibly.
Bud eyed him for a moment, accepted the address, balled it in his fist, and then shoved it deep in his pocket--bemused smile on his face. "Yeah." Bud slid behind the steering wheel, door snapping fast behind him.
"Good to see you again." Exley pushing his extra eyes back up his nose.
Bud raised an idle hand behind the dusty glass to acknowledge the fact--swerved out into traffic. A brutal slap on the horn and a colorful word or two for the shitbird that nearly blindsided him.
White: driving off with Edmund Exley's address burning in his pocket. Exley: sweating, flushed, and jittery on the sun washed corner--stomach a-churning.
Twilight approached in a diluted display of pastel blue and purple inks, flaxen strands of cloud for personality. Warm crimson and lucid orange in the west giving away grudgingly to the unavoidable wake of night. From somewhere beyond Edmund Exley's window a briny breeze whispered through the trees, curtailed only slightly by the cityscape.
Ed hummed quietly to the radio, some piano tune without vocals interrupted here and there with a clip of static, rubbing a dish reflection-clean in the sink. Cleanliness next to Godliness, or so they say. The silvery notes entered a crescendo--interfering with the rappa-tap upon the door? Exley paused, dried his fingers on a nearby towel, and then killed the volume. Again, with a certain degree of gusto this time: knock-*knock*.
Having wiped suds from his hands, Exley made his way to the door.
The sight that greeted him: Bud White, one hand clutching a white paper sack, the other balancing two bottles of scotch between fingers, an almost tattered coverlet under one arm, a lumpy pillow under the other--the wind tugging at his clothing. He looked... goofy.
Bud, eyebrows high: "The couch?"
Ed paused then nodded. "The couch."
"Yeah," Bud said, sidling pass Exley. Belying the compressed front of the house, the insides sprawled out like a plague. Living room, dining room, and kitchen seamlessly joined as one--the tiled kitchen counter also serving as a bar to boot, stools included. The far wall behind the table in the corner, adorned with only a single painting of a seascape, slid right and vanished into an arch crested hallway. The carpeting was a soft cream hue; the furniture was white for the most part--the faint lighting giving the entire place an ambiance of sophistication. It reminded Bud a lot of Lynn... Intestines: gripped vice-firm and *twisting.*
"Uh, you can throw your things on the couch there... and, uh, I'll get these." Exley stepped forward-not too close-and carefully extracted the bottles of scotch from White's fingers. As he found a place for them upon his counter, Bud sauntered over to the couch. Slung his blanket and pillow down. Exley turned, glancing at Bud who was holding up the mysterious white sack. His heart: thumpa-thump-thump. So, here he was, with White. Bud White. Wendell Alan White. In. His. House.
White cleared his throat, tossing the sack unceremoniously on the counter. "Burger left over from dinner. Figured you might want it."
White might as well have been chattering in Greek. Blink. Blink.
White motioned to the bag. "A burger."
Oh… Yeah, thanks."
"Em." White was tugging something out of his wallet. A step forward-breath close-White shoving a 20 in Ed's front pocket; he'd long ago traded his button-up in for a more comfortable t-shirt. Bud sidestepping him now, snatching the first available cup, glass, whatever. A cheap, blue plastic mug. Freshly cleaned. Popping the top and tossing back one, two, three gulps of liquid heat. Exley: fingering the bill in his pocket as if it holds all the perplexity of a Rubic's cube.
Exley stepped around the counter, gathering two crystal cut glasses-more appropriate drinking equipment-his eyes on White. Pushing a filled tumbler across the tile, throwing the plastic mug in the sink, and then laying his inquisitive eyes on the 20 note he'd placed on the counter.
"What's that for?"
Bud gave him a critical stare--a smirk. "Consider it couch rental."
The thought to refuse crossed his mind, then uncrossed it as Bud swallowed the contents of his glass without so much as wince.
Bud, scrubbing at his mouth with the back of his hand: "Sorry to put you out. But, you did offer."
"I wouldn't have offered if it were going to put me out."
A mischievous sparkle in watery depths: "No lady friend coming over?"
"Obviously not. Besides, that's none of your business." Bud ignored the slight thrill that coursed through him at learning this, partly because he didn't understand it.
Bud grinned--a rare sight. Curiously pleasing.
"We didn't get to talk much back at the station... How're things going?" Translation: I couldn't think of anything to say then, nor now, but gimmie the lowdown anyway.
Bud's eyes cut into thin slivers of blue ice. Trying to decide the intent behind the fairly innocent probing tone. Exley shifted as that penetrating gaze raked him over once, then twice... White turned away and threw back another portion of scotch in a swallow. The sound of the rocks glass cracked out like a gun report when it slammed onto the counter. Lightly clearing his throat, White looked to Exley with a snag of a smile lingering thoughtfully at the corners of his lips.
"The world is my oyster, Ed. My oyster..." He murmured as he fingered the rim of his crystal tumbler. Breathing out a soft chuckle from the back of his throat, Bud nodded to himself, staring down into the wetted glass bottom. What a fine situation we've wandered ourselves into, yeah? Sometimes people can't separate themselves from the world around them. They get so intricately entangled with the inconsequential they can't remember which way is fucking up. Bud tried to keep everything within the limited scale of black and white, eliminating whatever grays he could. The thing of it was, *nothing* was ever simply sketched in black and white. Nothing. For the nth time, on the screen of his mind's eye: 'What the fuck am I doing here?'
And thinking of Exley: Still Daddy's boy, huh? That reflection from silver painted plastic. Slick and vivid in the afternoon sun. Click, clickety-click... Who do you think you are anyway? Exley... "Shotgun Ed." A philosophical snort.
All things in perspective, lounging in a room caked with palpable tension wasn't quite the way Exley wanted to spend the evening out. Apparently, Bud wasn't interested in reliving the past couple of years, and his whole attitude screamed it. The idea to probe for information pushed aside, thinking fast. What would interest Bud White?
"D'you play cards?"
Bud White blinking at him almost owlishly. "As in?"
The liquor ran like water--matching sip to card, tumbler to hand, bottle to game. World was starting to tilt upon its axis. Vertigo. Spades blending into hearts, hearts to diamonds--narrowed eyes to decipher cards scribed in Chinese. A nice encompassing buzz to take the edge off though. The night was wearing on easily enough--better than expected.
White puzzling and cursing softly over a particular hand--second bottle of scotch gone dry. Exley ventured to the kitchen-having to steady and reroute his direction more than once-to find another. Uncovered a half bottle stuffed in the back of a cabinet, leftovers from a silent Christmas celebration last year--buried treasure.
Edmund half wobbled, half walked his way back to the table--sat the bottle down over Bud's shoulder. A surreptitious peek: maybe a full boat?
After making his way about to his seat, Exley made to sit down, miscalculated the distance, and then dragged his hand across the table, knocking the deck of cards askew in his vain attempt to keep from falling. He landed with a stifled thump on the carpet, cards fluttering down about him. Blink. Blink.
For a bleary moment everything was pin-drop silent. Two to three second assessment of the situation--Bud White broke into laughter. Deep genuine laughter. Shoulders shaking, gripping the table's edge for support, and laughing…
Edmund, on the other hand, didn't see the humor in this at all. Moving chairs, indeed. The salesman had mentioned nothing of mobile chairs. How was anyone to concentrate on anything with all this furniture jumping about, dammit? In the pickled haze that was his thinking, Exley made a mental note to request stationary seating next time.
As Ed clambered back into his chair, he watched White collect the scattered cards and arrange them back into some semblance of a deck. Bud was clutching the table with one hand, tip of his tie brushing the carpet: he'd remained fully attired throughout the night save for his blazer. So close. Smell of scotch, long dried sweat, still-fading cologne, and something else. Something... something uniquely Wendell White.
Ed thought it over for a moment--squinting at Bud ponderously. Even the voice in his head sounded slurred. Beside the matter... What would that mouth taste like? A vague thought. Unexpected. A two second toying idea. Yet, when Bud stood up, Exley leaned up... His tongue gently nudged apart liquor-slicked lips. Sweet and yet not... A breath hitching in the throat. Odd...
Exley wasn't prepared. Couldn't have it been. But it came anyway... And when it did, it was like taking a towel wrapped brick to the side of the face. Pain-numbing-spread through Ed's jaw, liquid quick. Muscle and bone sang as one, the floor found his rear again, and his glasses dangled precariously from one ear. Now, Exley had always considered the phrase "seeing stars" a figure of speech. This was a hell of a way to be brought around to the contrary, 'cause stars there were and stars he did see. They flitted and sparked before his dazed vision. And, if that weren't enough, they were actually giggling at him. Giggling at him like children or some sort of demented star-shaped sprites. Tittering at him for being foolish enough to be on the receiving end of ex-officer Wendell Alan White's short-fused temper. A shotgun. Hair-trigger. Never in all his years…
As his vision began to swim back into focus, Exley could see Bud, four or five versions of him actually, pacing back and forth above him--fists clenched and curling at the thighs, eyes animal wild, lips moving subtly. White's images melting back into one again. Through the hum-buzz in his ears: snatches of sentences consisting mainly of various profanities. Boy, was he ever pissed...
Left a little more sober than before Bud's fists had found him, Exley gingerly brushed at the swollen, pounding ache in his jaw. He looked up, eyes watering, registering the look of horror-surprise on White's face. Brow furrowed. Menacing. So damn menacing. Panic flushing up through him, making his heart tattoo the inside of his ribcage. Before Exley could have the grace of another thought, Bud was on him, clutching the front of Ed's shirt and yanking him up along the wall. Eyeglasses finding shelter on the floor under the table. Bled knuckles tight... Anger radiating like heat.
Exley wondered if Bud White's looming face would be the last thing he saw... Pacing before him with that caged animal… anxiousness? Trembling with rage.
Time, it seemed stood still for a moment--just him, White, air, and opportunity... Then the breath was quashed from his lungs when lips crushed crudely against his own. Suddenly he was *there*, close and all personal like, hands splayed over the too-clean wallpaper on either side of Exley's head. The smell of alcohol clinging around them with the blinding effects of an early morning fog. The ache quickly draining from his jawbone.
There were no words, just the grudging, grunting exhale through Bud's nose as the fingers of his right hand coiled into a compressed fist. Tight jaws parted, slick tongues sliding together wet and hot. Bud let himself continue. The kiss deepened and a rigid knot of self-hate jumped up into his chest so violently, Bud found himself pounding the wall in rapid succession--lest he start pounding Edmund. Bud's wall bashing dislocating Exley from his thoughts as effectively as the bolt of arousal shooting up from his groin. Woozy. Intense. No thought, just feeling. The nameless tension between them-birthed from whatever source-exploding.
White could feel Ed's deft little fingers worming their way into the front of his pants to latch on. Exley. Curling. Pulling Bud into him. Latching. Quick and tight. They were moving now, knocking a picture awry with the slide of their bodies along the wall. Slim hips were bucking up against a solid waist. A tongue was weaseling its way into Bud's ear, and teeth were snatch-snatching at Exley's shoulder. It was all a blur. Just... happening. Frustrated fumbling, swift grasping for a knob and a door giving way to make room for a bed. Bed. Yeah, a bed's good.
Kissing, touching, pawing, grunting, groaning...
All the colors were bleeding together. Splatters of paint doused in water. Running... running all over his skin... running all down his spine. Seeping into his pores and driving him insane. IN-sane. He gasped. "Exley!"
A tie was wrapped about his knuckles. Fabric was tearing somewhere. Muffled and forceful. Buttons scattered, Bud's fingers found a belt buckle buried in a flurry of clothing. Air was rushing in, stippling flushed skin with gooseflesh. Or was it just the breeze? Flesh was slithering, shivering against his own. Lips were hungrily drawing at the lower portion of his throat. Disoriented, moaning, gasping, screaming, sweat in his eyes and daubed over his tongue. Exley's sweat, not his. Exley's... Dear God, Exley... Exley's limbs were steel tight with tension, draping-clutching and consuming-White's body. Bud forced his face in the warm curve of a neck, feeling a furious pulse reciprocating the pressure of his lips.
Supple fingers were in his hair, raking over his scalp and causing a flutter of pleasure in his chest, or stomach, or somewhere at his core. Suddenly the two of them were pushing, hoisting, grinding for better leverage. Jennings was crying out sharply in his ear now: it was the tight friction of two bodies melding into one. Hide striped up in curls under dull nails digging into his back. Moving, whimpering, pleasure pumping with him-at him, through him-thrusting into an excruciating heat that eagerly returned to him. Again and again and again... Again... Every nerve ending shattered... *In-TEN-se.* A brilliant white *sensation* ricocheting within the walls of his body... Eyes closed so tight. Fine sheen of perspiration on his visage. The smell of it, the taste of it. The thick moist air that carried it. Every muscle relaxed in exhaustion--freeing an apprehension so deep within he hadn't been aware of its existence. And that body beneath his squirming and writhing for just a few moments longer before ultimately tensing. Rippling with muscle. Spasmodic. Drawing him near. A mouth at his jaw, voicing a moan through his skin, and that scalding warmth erupting over his stomach. Thrumming as though his body were a thin metal rod shivering from a strong vibration... Thrumming. Just the vibration... And then it was over.
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