Title: Trains and Pains
Fandom: Wild Wild West
Pairing: Jim/Artie implied
Feedback: justblackchaps at yahoo dot com
Summary: Jim has regrets.
Disclaimer: All this belongs to CBS.
Note: This is part of a series.
Jim limped in the door, and Artemus made absolutely sure it didn't bump him. A foul mood didn't begin to describe Jim.
"Sit. I'll get you an ice bag."
"No," Jim growled softly. He limped straight through the parlor. Artemus tossed his hat aside and followed him. Jim looked over his shoulder. "No."
One little word that spoke volumes. Artemus shrugged and stopped. "I'll get the ice bag."
Jim muttered something that Artemus was certain was rude. Artemus went to the galley, chipped off a good amount of ice, and filled the rubber ice bag. It got plenty of use around this train. He laid it on his own face and winced at the cold. That cowboy had been stupid, but he knew how to throw a punch. He walked slowly back to the closet and went on inside. Jim was half-naked. He glared. Artemus handed him the ice bag and said nothing. He turned and left.
Artemus went to get another ice bag. His face throbbed. He sat down on the sofa, and he refused to consider starting the paper work. Perhaps this assignment could be tossed in the trash and forgotten quickly. Oh, they jailed the bad guys, but they'd looked stupid doing it; and Jim hated looking stupid--hated it. Artemus sighed and loosened his top buttons. He glanced at his trousers - filthy, of course. He'd change when he was certain that Jim was out of the closet.
"Your turn," Jim said, and Artemus watched him pour two fingers of whiskey.
"Thanks." Artemus took a step around Jim and headed up front. He'd take a bath too. Cleaning up was something he never rushed. Clean and naked, he stepped into the hallway.
Jim was coming from the stable car, limping. "Get some clothes on!"
Artemus turned and saluted. "Yes sir." He hadn't blushed in fifteen years, but he considered it. Jim's eyes were like bullets hitting skin. Artemus went to get dressed, and he didn't rush. That would make it seem like he cared. He slipped on some trousers and a plain white shirt, which he didn't tuck in. After a quick meal, he was for bed. His house shoes were a relief from boots. They always seemed to pinch; it didn't matter how much he spent on them. He retrieved his ice bag from the lavatory and went to the galley to pour out the water.
Jim was refilling his ice bag. Artemus didn't more than glance at the grouch. He started dinner. They deserved steaks, but only had stew in the larder. The stew wouldn't have meat, unfortunately.
"James, why don't you go shoot a rabbit?"
"I could ride to town and buy some meat," Jim said, rising with a small wince.
"You're willing to show your face in town? I'm not." Artemus peeled the potatoes with the expertise of years doing it. "Go ahead. Get steaks."
Jim glared at him. Artemus could feel the hair on the back of his neck stand to attention. He tossed the potato in the pot and tried to look unconcerned. Jim growled out three words before limping away. "Rabbit it is."
Artemus wondered if Jim would growl all the rest of the day. He hoped not. The job had been hard enough. He dropped in the last potato and dug out the carrots. Luckily, he found some turnips, too. They weren't his favorite, but he was hungry enough to eat them and smile. Onions were next. He sniffed a little.
"Crying over a rabbit?" Jim dropped the skinned and gutted rabbit on the cutting board. "That's over the top."
"Funny, James." Artemus quickly sliced off the meat and added it to the stew. "Bury it."
Jim grumbled and took it away. Eating would cheer him up. Artemus added salt and pepper and a few herbs he had saved. That done, he made sure the fire had enough wood to last and went to nurse a whiskey. Jim was already doing the same.
"We moving on tonight?"
"Casey says in the morning." Jim didn't look up from his drink. "Colonel Fairchild wants us in San--"
"Francisco! That's fabulous!" Artemus couldn't help but exclaim. He loved that town.
Jim favored him with another glare. "Santa Fe, knucklehead." He sighed. "It'll be hell."
"I can't wait," Artemus deadpanned. He wanted to curse and throw his whiskey, but that would be a terrible waste. This whiskey cost some money. "I hate the desert."
Jim grunted his reply. He still hadn't more than glanced at Artemus. It was odd. What was going on? Artemus decided to push the issue. He moved next to Jim, abandoning his whiskey.
"There are other chairs on this train."
Artemus shrugged. "I want to check your leg. That horse let you have it."
"I'm fine, or I will be after an ice bag or two," Jim said. "Don't worry."
"You're sure it's not broken?"
"Leave off, Artie." Jim fumbled up and limped to a sofa.
Artemus got the message. He went back to his whiskey and then his galley. Jim had never refused that sort of attention. Artemus stirred the stew. It was bubbling. It smelled good. He had some biscuits from yesterday that would go fine with it. Anything else? Nope. But it would be enough. He'd stop at some town along the way and buy supplies. Not even the promise of a whore would get him back to this town. He grinned and remembered Glenda. She wasn't really a whore, and she'd been so good. He touched his lips and smiled. Jim had tasted delicious too, better than this stew.
Artemus sipped his drink and got out the dishes. He puttered around the parlor and galley, cleaning this and that until the stew was ready. The potatoes took the longest. When they were soft, he filled bowls and called Jim. "Come get your bowl, James."
Jim limped in the galley and took it. "Thanks."
Artemus nodded and took his to the little table. He went back for the biscuits and his whiskey. Jim ate. He didn't look right or left. He ate. It was impolite. He had a partner, damn it. Artemus cleared his throat. "Too bad there's no Glenda in this town."
Jim's head snapped up. "I've tried very hard to forget her."
"Why? Because she spanked your ass or wanted to tie you up?" Artemus smirked.
Jim choked on his bite. He washed it down with whiskey and coughed once or twice. Artemus thought it was hilarious, but he was careful not to laugh. Jim might shoot him. "She wouldn't have tied me up."
"It was on the list," Artemus said and ate some more stew. Jim didn't answer. He went back to eating and ignored his partner. Artemus sighed and ate another biscuit. He refilled his bowl twice. Jim went back for thirds and finished the biscuits. Artemus refreshed both of their drinks. "Want me to rub your back tonight?"
"Glenda charged three dollars. How much do you charge?" Jim's eyes were sharp and mean.
Artemus wiped his mouth and stood up. "Go to hell, Jim." He left the parlor. Jim could sit alone and wallow in whatever was bothering him. Artemus wasn't going to take that from anyone. He'd given a few backrubs over the years. It was no big deal. He stopped in the closet and undressed, finding some drawers to sleep in. It wasn't late in the evening, but he was tired. Jim could clean up the table, or leave it until morning. Artemus didn't care. He found his book and tried to decide where to sleep. There was a big bed in the stateroom that they usually shared, but tonight he'd be damned if he'd sleep with Jim. Jim snored and took up way too much room.
"Forget it!" Artemus marched down to his laboratory. He'd pull out the little cot and sleep there. Jim could sleep alone. He obviously didn't care for company. Artemus lit a lamp, arranged the cot to his liking, and lay down to read.
"Sorry, Artie." Jim stood over him. His hands were fisted onto his hips. "You shouldn't tease."
"You had a rough day. I was trying to be nice." Artemus opened the book. "You're an ass. Take it elsewhere."
Jim glared, said nothing, and turned on his heel, slamming the door behind him. Artemus sighed and began to read about nitroglycerine. The movement of the train snapped him awake. He jumped up and made sure everything was stowed away. The last thing they needed was a big explosion to start the day. That done, he slumped down on his cot and rubbed his face. Slowly, he picked up his book. He was still tired, but the lavatory was going to be necessary.
"Yeah," Artemus said. He moved to the door and past Jim. "I have to piss."
Jim disappeared, and Artemus cleaned up. He rubbed his eyes and glanced in the stateroom. The bed was empty, so he made himself comfortable. His eyes drifted shut.
"You gonna sleep all day?"
"I might. Hey, there's the door, don't let it hit your ass," Artemus growled. Glenda should have spanked Jim so much harder.
"I'll make toast."
Artemus raised an eyelid. Jim was staring at his boots. Toast was an apology. "I want it right here."
Jim glared at him. "You're pushing it."
Artemus rolled over and said nothing. He didn't want to get up, not even for food. Jim shut the door behind him, not quietly either. Artemus sighed. They weren't really fighting, but Jim would make this train trip hell if Artemus didn't eat toast and thank him. Artemus struggled up and out of bed. He stumbled to the table and sat down heavily. Jim came in with a plate of toast. They ate quietly. Artemus didn't quite know what to say. Jim just ate, again. When breakfast was finished, Artemus cleaned the galley, but not quickly.
"Thanks for breakfast." Artemus felt Jim's eyes avoiding him.
"You're welcome. You getting dressed today?"
"Does my bare skin bother you?" Artemus wiped down the stove. He was finished with the galley, but not with needling Jim. "I'm not over-muscled like you, but I look fine."
"Over-muscled?" Jim's mouth fell open. He snapped it shut and pointed a finger at Artemus. "Clothes are considered polite."
"Well, yesterday you were a rude bastard - not without cause, I might add. Today - it's my turn." Artemus scratched his belly, belched loudly, and frowned. "I have drawers on."
Jim rubbed a quick hand through his hair. "I'm going to ice my leg and do the paperwork."
"You do that." Artemus shrugged. "I say we forget the damn assignment ever happened. Tell them it was a lie and nothing came of it."
Jim sighed. "I can't do that, even though I'd like to, believe me."
"They'll laugh at you more than me."
"I know." Jim left the galley, limping and grumbling.
Artemus took himself back to bed. He was going to sleep. Nothing good could come of telling the truth. Staring at the ceiling, he adjusted his cock and wished Glenda was in bed with him. He frowned. It hadn't been Glenda that had made that night so much fun. It had been Jim. Jim was a great kisser. He knew how to make it feel so good. Artemus rolled to his stomach and told his cock to go back to bed. He shut his eyes and drifted away.