Rick Dalton always hoped to rekindle his fame. Preferably through movies, but hell, even a Bounty Law revival would work. But almost being murdered was the last thing he’d thought he’d be most famous for now.
And the weirdest part of all? It suddenly made The 14 Fists of McCluskey a cult film of sorts. Where as Jake Cahill’s lines used to be the most quoted Rick got out in public, it suddenly switched to Sgt. Mike Lewis almost overnight, with some tweaks. “BURN YOU HIPPIE BASTARDS! HAHAHAHA!!!” as a flame thrower was mimed. It was old by the third time he saw it.
Rick didn’t know why he was speaking at a commemorative gathering for the 30th anniversary of the end of WWII, other than that film. And none of these veterans were laughing or reciting the script back at him; fuck, Rick was pratically embarassed that he was even asked to come. These guys were heroes, he was just pretending to be one. He wasn’t even in the same league, not even close.
There were a couple veterans he found he could talk to at the reception and if he didn’t already feel bad enough for being there, their stories made him feel even smaller. Rick would never have the guts to do what these people did, and he was thankful everyday that he was young enough to miss the draft. And yet, he remembered Cliff telling him he had to sneak in because he was underaged. Fuck, Cliff was always the bigger man.
Speaking of bigger man… Rick was really starting to let himself go as of late. Happens when you’ve been married to an Italian the past six years, he guessed. He wasn’t obeased by any means but those fifteen pounds from those six months in Italy decided to double instead of going away. And now the buffet was calling to him as he loaded up his plate with shrimp and cookies.
Rick nearly had whiplash with how fast his head turned around, cookie hanging from his mouth and looked wide-eye when he saw that yes, it was indeed Cliff Booth, dressed head to toe in his military outfit, who said those words. A silver fox Cliff Booth, that is. Jesus, has it been that long without seeing him for him to grey out that fast?
“Why, I’m sorry. Didn’t realize I caught you at a bad time.” Cliff doesn’t make any movement like he’s going to leave but instead takes the cookie from Rick’s mouth and sets it on the plate. “Sure you need to be eating more of those?”
“Y-you fucking c-calling me fat, Cliff?” Rick Dalton’s first words to Cliff Booth after six years was that. Fucking unreal. It’s almost like they were never apart that long.
“Nah, I dig the love handles.”
There he goes, getting flustered by Cliff again. Deep down, a part of him missed it. “Sh-sh-shut up.”
Cliff just laughs softly and pulls a paper out of his pocket. “Here’s the motel I’m staying at. Come by in an hour. Hey! Bill!” And as if on cue, Cliff turned his attention towards an old comrade and was off talking to him.
“Bastard,” Rick whispers under his breath as he pockets the address.
Rick was still annoyed at Cliff for appearing and disappearing as he did. It’s been six fucking years, how could he just come back into his life like that and act like it’s only been six days? Fuck him.
He recited the whole speech he was going to give Cliff as soon as he got to the motel on the cab ride over. All the dramatic yelling, the inevitable tears. Maybe he’d slap him. Fuck him. Fuck him so much. Not a word on where he’s been, what he’s been doing. Nothing. That anger was building as he stepped out of the cab, climbed the stairs to room 7, and pounded on the door. This bastard was going to get it.
And there that bastard stood in the open door, in his boxers, white tank, and his dog tags hanging around his neck. And it was like the script Rick had written out vanished, which in the end, didn’t matter anyways since he couldn’t even stammer an “I-I-” before Cliff had pulled him, shut the door, and had him shoved him up against the wall, mouth roughly kissing and biting at his neck with Cliff’s own six year pent-up frustration of being kept away so long. And as much as Rick wanted this, and my god, he wanted it so fucking bad, a simple turtle neck wasn’t going to work anymore to cover the markings up when there’s another person he’s living with.
“C-Cliff…. Cliff, Francesca will n-n-notice…”
Cliff growls almost animalistically as he debates internally, but he knows he can’t continue. “Damnit. Was hoping you’d be divorced by now.”
“Yeah, me, too.”
They stood in silence a little bit longer until Cliff finally let up his grip and looked Rick over. “Don’t think I broke skin. But… could always tell her a dog did it.”
‘No one’s dumb enough to fall for that, Cliff. So where the hell have you been? What have you been up to? Tell me everything.”
“No? Fucking tell me why the hell not! I haven’t seen you in six fucking years.”
“And I’m not going to waste that time filling you in with the couple hours I have with you. I can call you and talk if you want, but you’re here. And I just want to be with you, like we used to, even if just for a moment.”
“Why? Shit’s n-n-never going to be like it used to be again. Why remember?”
“Damnit, Rick. You talk too damn much.” Cliff cups Rick’s face with one hand and gives him a softer kiss, hoping to shut him up. He smirks a bit when he hears Rick moan in reply; he always knew Rick liked the soft stuff as much as he tried to pretend he didn’t. “Wanna cuddle for a bit?”
“You make us sound like a couple of fucking queers.”
“Well… I kinda hate to break it to you… but cuddling is probably the least queer thing we’ve done,” Cliff says in a slight teasing tone. “Come on. Just for a bit.”
“Ten minutes. That’s it.”
Ten minutes had turned into two hours, and yet Rick wasn’t complaining about it. He forgot how much he loved being held; he couldn’t really do that with Francesca. But fuck, the way Cliff held him was the most comforting, most secure feeling in the world, as if nothing could hurt him as long as Cliff Booth was around.
He also forgot how much he just loved making out with this man. Cliff was rough in appearance but surprisingly gentle when he wanted to be. Cliff made sure to cover each rough bite he made earlier with feather kisses before covering his mouth over Rick's. Rick could feel the desire being restrained in Cliff, which only made him want him more. But they had to behave; coming home smelling like sex to the wife was just asking for trouble.
Rick also didn’t realize how much he liked his hair being touched until Cliff commented on how he was still keeping the longer locks from Italy and felt his fingers comb through it. Fucking hell, he was starting to regret not realizing this sooner and the time he could of had being pampered like this. “That feels real, real fucking good.”
“I know. Ladies love it when I do it.”
Rick didn’t know if he should be jealous of Cliff's with these ladies, or be mad that Cliff was implying he’s a lady because he loved it. Cliff kinda sense Rick was thinking about that.
“I’ve had guys do it to me as well, not just me to others.”
That just made it worse.
“I don’t like thinking of you with anyone else, Cliff. I just don’t.
“I know. I feel the same.”
Rick felt guilty, but he didn’t know what to do at the time and still didn’t. A single man his age at the time who has never been married was not a good look, and something had to be done. Appearances had to be kept up but it was just so draining at times. And being reminded of how good they had it? It hurt. A lot.
“You can pet mine too, ya know.”
The thought didn’t cross Rick’s mind, but he was being offered the chance to that he might as well take it. He wrapped his hand around the back of Cliff’s neck and slipped his fingers up into the grey mane and let them run through. Seeing Cliff closing his eyes and smiling in content encouraged him to continue. “You sure you-you like this?”
So Rick continued until his arm got sore, which frankly wasn’t long. He just let it limply fall on Cliff’s shoulder and slowly slide down on it’s own until it got caught on Cliff’s dog tags. “What were these for again?”
“Identify my body if I’m killed in action.”
“Well that’s fucking blunt.”
“Well, you asked. One tag would stay one me, the other gets taken off. Here…” Cliff reaches up and pulls one of them off and hands it to Rick. “You can take it, I don’t need it anymore, right? Still got this one here as a keepsake.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t die, Cliff. Won’t they think that if they see one is missing?”
I died the day I had to leave you. “Nah.”
Rick smiles softly as he runs his finger over the raised information, reading it silently to himself. “B positive blood type, huh?”
“Guess that’s why I always try to be positive.”
“Jesus, Cliff, that’s bad. So fucking bad.”
Those words seemed to echo that time long ago as Rick watched Cliff’s ambulance pull away down Cielo Drive. A different time indeed.
“You probably best be gettin’ on home. Don’t want Francesca to worry about ya. Already past when the event ended.”
“Guess I better.”
Cliff knew he’d have to be the one to push Rick towards the door, as reluctant as he was to do so. “Call you a cab or drive you home?”
“Drive me. Like old times.”