Title: You're so Sweet to Try
Genre: Slash, Meta-ish, RPF-ish
Disclaimer: I don't own Band of Brothers nor do I mean any disrespect to the real men in E company, their families. This is based on the actors' portrayal of real men in a fictional setting not the actual men of Easy themselves.
Summary: Liebgott can never quite figure Webster out. Years later, it'll hit him why.
A/N: Beta'd by binni, even though this fic was kind of done as a request to her--the woes of having one person being your beta. This story has literally taken more than six months to be written. It's an old, old, wip, I blame the Pacific because it came in and danced around like a two-bit whore with Emily Browning's face and Christina Hendrick's body and I just couldn't look away. This is another experiment in 2nd person p.o.v. Be warned it jumps a little and I have a hard time relating to Liebgott. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Incidentally this fic gets ALL it's inspiration and title from what I feel is the quintessential webgott song: Whistle for the Choir by the Fratellis.
This is how it begins.
You're not sure how it came up, you can barely remember why you were sitting there idly resting against the brick wall of some shelled out building, and then...
"I can't dance."
Hell, it's more than a random exchange, it came out of fucking nowhere. You've barely drained the bottle between you two and didn't they drink a lot up where he's from?
Web's not drunk, and he's certainly more than aware of what he said. Whatever the fuck it means, of course, he's not saying. Just like him, to keep things locked away in that contradictory head of his then get all riled up cause none of ya understand him or his thoughts.
You're not psychic and you try to remind him that but he still does these things anyways.
Inwardly you're weary for some reason, but outwardly you snort around your cigarette, your fingers reaching for the shared stolen bottle of some kind of firewater. You don't play his games, try not to at least.
"How the fuck does that happen? Ain't you supposed to be some rich boy back home?" He doesn't even flinch, cool and collected and just leans against the wall. You're not used to this--it's not familiar and you feel your stare lock onto the orange of your fading lucky strike. It feels safer somehow.
"Never was one for dancing, " He's still so young and yet that tone sounds so old, almost as old as you, "always was told I had 'two left feet'. I don't mind usually, I'm better at swimming."
You didn't have to be a genius to figure that one out, one of the first times you'd met him, back on the ship, back when you were still whole, he'd been staring out at the water. He stood out so plainly then, everyone else staring at the fading stretch of home and here this guy was, ogling the one thing that separated you from the war. Still, even with all the pretty girls in your head, you'd stopped. His eyes had been exactly the same as the water, and his smile...for some reason, you couldn't find words.
Even now, you still can't.
It's silent and he's waiting.
You hate it when he does this, you still don't know what the phrase was supposed to FUCKING mean in the first place. Guessing into Web's head is like trying to make sense of some kind of elaborate story. One full of words with double meanings, subtext, and irony. You let out another drag and offer: "Suits you better."
It's not exactly the correct answer because he turns away from you and shrugs, almost petulant. You'd be more upset if you weren't used to it.
"I suppose," Even the tone seems to have reverted to something else, and you wonder briefly he's going to be like this when he gets back, back to the big fancy house and big fancy school, "I'm more of a talker than a dancer."
"Damn straight," You mumble as soon as you can, because hell it's true and for some reason that makes him shift but you continue to savor the last piece of your lucky strike, "don't know how well your 'talking works' but shouldn't dancing and all that poetic shit go together?"
"Not necessarily," You must be on a roll tonight because he almost looks pink under the flickering street lamp, so far so good, "they can have the same motivations but...well, like I said, two left feet. They don't exactly follow orders sometimes."
"Huh, for once your mighty intellect fails you?" That gets you a frown and if you squint it could be a pout, you're down to the stub but you still keep smoking, "jesus, it's not even that HARD to do."
"And you can dance?" If it wasn't for the fact every other word that comes out of his big mouth often sounds condescending you'd probably pop him one, instead you snort, "course I fucking can."
And once again, you revel in being able to accomplish what he can't. It's childish but then again, you need something to keep your mind off the grave circumstances around you.
"Really?" And you're on some kind of lucky streak because he looks almost unsure, "you...can dance?"
"Contrary to popular belief, the lower class don't eat with their hands." You have no idea where you pulled that from, but it's a good hit because Web looks off put. Like the train of thought in that complicated brain of his just got derailed. Game set match.
"Like...real dances?" You stub the final bit of cigarette out, you're your mother's son, the first relocated from the homeland.
"Yes Webster, 'real' dances. Girls tend to like a guy who can do more than the Charleston." Your fingers itch for the cool burn of gin and you give in, ignoring how eagerly he wants to press you for information. Probably going to go down in that book of his, you're almost tempted to see how he'd romanticize it. Web seems the kind to add big words and elaborate sentences to a simple exchange.
"Who taught you?" You haven't even put down the fucking bottle and he's on your case, pressing against your elbow, and curiosity out and about. A cynical part of you thinks, that Web's curiosity isn't very pure. He hates change, and when you give him new information, he almost always wants to cling to his precious 'learned beliefs', only absorbing new information to look for holes. Ways that can prove that change isn't needed and he's right all along.
Sometimes he is, and sometimes he isn't.
You've almost made it a game on several occasions.
"My parents," The omission feels weird coming from your mouth, like it's something that shouldn't be shared so freely, but you aren't going to let him win, this elaborate exchange that both of you share yet can't comprehend. You don't add how it was one of the few allowances they had from the mainland, how hard they tried to hide themselves and yet clung to the few traditions they could. Things they couldn't be hunted down for, small little things they could masquerade as common place, traditions with neighbors that would ultimately betray them.
Webster waits in patient silence, and you know from experience he's processing the information, trying to see if it was worth adding to his preset notion of you, worth adding another dab of paint to the finished painting he's constructed of you. You don't offer up anymore, the gin burning deep in your throat and deeper behind your eyelids. That pinprick feeling of alarm, of caution is thudding with the pulse in your head and straighten, if only to get your bearings.
Webster's eyes automatically lock onto yours and you're swallowed up in a barrage of blue. You wonder if the ocean under that boat so long ago that took you away from safety, took you away from your old self, has ever felt as suffocating and intoxicating. You feel that deep need in you to break contact, pull out before you're drowning in something that you can't handle, but the gin weighs you down like your gear in the sea and you just keep staring.
"Hey Joe?" He looks above you, considering, and you're released, you almost feel like gasping for breath, like you've been pulled out of the waves, spared for a moment longer. Instead you keep your grip on the gin bottle tight and try to keep yourself steady. You don't acknowledge his questioning glance because you know David Kenyon Webster, know that he's the most dangerous when he's thinking.
"What?" You'll play along till he gives off another tell, revealing his purpose in spades. Webster's mouth gives a little twitch, and you mark it mentally. That means he's about to ask something that he's not sure you'll agree to. He licks his lips distractedly, a flash of pink between chapped lips. Definitely something he's sure you'll disagree with.
"How easy is it to teach someone to dance?" It's asked innocent enough, conversationally even, but he tenses and you can feel something catch in your lungs. The gin makes you light-headed, keeps you unfocused, your mouth uncontrolled.
"Why, want me to teach ya?" This is dangerous, there's a war going on, you're soldiers--god-damn Paratroopers even--but you're getting caught up in his current, being led to wherever he wants you to drift, "I ain't that good of a teacher."
"I don't mind, not much of a student." Webster's voice isn't commanding, tone light, but you know better. He could care less that Shifty's fucking holed up nearby, that anyone could stumble upon you two. Webster is testing you, for what you don't know, but you're taking his challenge anyway. Your Ma always said you were hard-headed, never could learn your lesson.
You can't see Webster's expression, he shifts as he stands up, holding his hand out to you. You take his hand regardless, your mind can already fill in where the dark takes over--tries to paint in the lines of where Web's nose starts and his eyes dot the planes of his face.
Webster listens to you, allows himself to be the girl--a concession he's willing to give because in the end, he's already getting what he wants--twists and turns in your grip. You're a little shorter than him, but he doesn't comment about it, instead he just keeps his gaze on you constantly. It feels like back when you were ten, burning ants in the sidewalk under a magnify glass.
"Move like this," It's uncomfortable, Web is all bones and hard muscle where girls are soft and fitting, but you take the lead. Your pace is haphazard at best, hands linked, feeling the callouses mirror each other and the flex of his long fingers. Even with all that contrasts, the dance feels strange. You're moving with the flow and ebb of a song that you don't realize you're humming till you feel it bouncing around you.
"What song is that?" Webster doesn't so much ask, as prod, moving to gaze up at something above your head. It makes you feel shadowed, but you just shrug as nonchalant as you can holding another man's hand and with your arm around his waist.
"Not sure," It's a lie, you know this song from your Mother, know it from the snatches she would lull your sisters to sleep to, "just made it up." For some reason, you can't bring yourself to admit that to him.
"I see," He doesn't believe you, but he's pleased with the answer nonetheless. You count the time aloud after that and move, getting him to avoid stumbling his legs into yours. Time passes in a blur around you two, the whole world consisting of you, him, and your arms linked. He mis-steps, you adjust on your end so that you two can still move in unison. Somehow this feels familiar, and a small part of you recognizes that this dance, this test, may represent something that you won't recognize and he won't say.
Webster pauses and you jerk, covering up your surprise with a grimace. You two exchange glances and suddenly it hits you how very close Webster is, how all you can see in his eyes, in the dim light, is your reflection. It's not clear, almost indistinct, more of a shape than a reflection but you're there. The silence is heavy, only filled with your breathing. Something twists so hard in your gut that you feel it tug your hands from his. You break first, backing away feeling burned all over yet suddenly freezing without Webster's body heat.
"T-That's enough learnin' for today." You don't face Webster, something in you can't turn to see him. Instead you pick up the bottle of gin on the floor, on it's side and nearly empty, and down the rest of it. Webster doesn't say anything, when you turn around, his expression is covered. Neither of you say anything about it the rest of the night.
Years later, when you finally revisit that part of your life, when you open the door after you've spent so long keeping the War and everyone in it shut, you'll find a book. Webster will have been dead for a long time, you'll read his words, look for your name and see yourself in faint snippets. No one will think anything of it, but you'll know. You'll keep it with you till your dying days the knowledge that you were too coward to face Webster. Too afraid of the god-damn sea of his emotions to let him know you were already trapped in his waves a long time ago. You'll read his book and know, why, your existence is so faint, almost an after thought.
You'd failed his test.