thanksgiving was the same as every other holiday, going to play baseball with my dad and brothers and getting run off the field halfway into the second round, just when i'd begun to throw each ball for a strike. for christmas, i've asked for a bat, because the smaller has a crack in it, as i think has been mentioned, and also some batting gloves, because there's a blister on the inside of my thumb that makes things difficult.
i need to attach my posters to the wall again. yo, don't cut corners and buy the walgreens brand of sticky tack. because your posters will fall, and you will get irritated, and you'll need to stack cases of soda on top of each other because the step stool has gone missing, and it's more trouble than it's worth.
the boy in rochester, i think maybe i sorta like this boy. for those keeping track, he's the one who told me a year and a half ago that i could pretend he was zito. which, you know. awww. he's kind of a textbook case of something, though, whatever it is when you're in a place where you're not exactly happy and you're romanticizing that which you've left behind. because honestly, we had one good summer in the same timezone, but we're hardly soulmates. at least, not yet.
i'm also asking for a digital camera for christmas, so soon you will see what a kid named candle looks like, as well as the pretty pretty nature of this city and other things of interest, like the posters on the wall. ah, posters.
because mulder-as-a-cardinal is proving to be more difficult than originally assumed, this is for rickenbacker, though she may call me a heretic and would not be wrong in doing so. title's by john.
above us only sky
by candle beck
They spend weeks in Paul’s bedroom, the little house belonging to his father, the dirty-cloud side of town where the boats rattle like tin cans on a string. They smoke cigarettes in the backyard, John tapping his feet impatiently, the half-broken stone flower pot overflowing with ash and ends.
His Aunt Milly, ever visiting since Paul’s mother died quickly two years earlier, calls them in for tea and sandwiches, and John pushes his hair up and back, greasing it down with whatever’s available. Paul thinks that for all the time John spends dealing with his hair, he might as well be a girl.
John chips pieces of varnish off the kitchen table with his penknife when Milly’s back is turned. Paul is still kinda scared of him, and so says nothing.
They put on their records from America, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis, always Elvis, forever and ever. They lie on the floor, their sticky hair touching, and John’s fingers move in Paul’s peripheral vision, picking out the smallest and cleanest parts of the guitar riffs. John’s got skinny fingers with ink under his nails, powder burns on his palms. He was an artist before they met, and sometimes he still is, but Paul doesn’t think of him like that.
When John’s in a particularly good mood, he hops up and dances on Paul’s bed, making his hips shiver, jerking his head, blasting percussive sounds out of his mouth and clapping his hands. Paul sits cross-legged on the thin carpet and yells at him for messing up the sheets, because his father’s just gonna blame it on Paul once John goes home, but Paul can’t really stay mad at him.
Sometimes John pounces on him and straddles his chest, knees pinning Paul’s shoulders down. Above him, John looks wild and strange and immortal, and Paul’s heart feels out of control, like the music, like the youth of his life running flatly away.
They see each other on the street sometimes, John with his friends and Paul with his own, and John catches his eye but doesn’t nod. Paul is too clean for John, too kind, his face scrubbed too often. Of course, he’s also two years younger, but the faster crowd that John runs with is not restricted by age, only by the limits of courage.
Paul is tired of being so good, and he smokes until his chest feels staved, and drinks until the world flutters like a dying bird, and then he’s getting sick in the alley behind the Cavern, and John is there, floating at the mouth of the street, laughing at him and saying, “Who’s getting you home, then?”
John is slick and fast and dressed in black leather, darker by the minute in the stubborn gray rain fading over Liverpool. He picks Paul up and pushes his hair up and back, clearing his forehead. John gives him a few swallows of something freezing and painful from a silver flask to clean his mouth out. John will pretend not to know him tomorrow, but he’ll take care of him tonight.
John’s hands are cold. Charcoal pencils and guitar strings, and Paul has seen him play until blood rolls down his wrists and catches in the pockets of his elbows, but all they are now is pale. Ice-pale, lined with soot, and John’s arm is around his shoulders, his fist clenched in Paul’s jacket.
It’s too late to work on their music, and Paul tries to tell John this as John is shouldering through the loose plank in the back fence and leading him across the short yard. John just curses at him to shut up, and Paul presses his face into John’s shoulder, the leather creaking under his cheek. The leather tastes good, like vinyl records and metal-tipped boots.
The backdoor is locked, and John has jammed his knife under Paul’s bedroom window, slowly working it open with Paul slouched on his back, breathing shallowly on the nape of John’s neck, the smell of hair grease sliding down his throat. Paul is listening to the music that trails John like a stray dog, the dizzying ascent of guitars and the ride of the bass. You can hear it if you lean in, if it’s quiet around John, which it hardly ever is, but Paul will follow him to the end of the world to hear it just one more time.
John goes through the window first and then pulls Paul in after him. They land in a smash on the floor, Paul’s hard chin dug into John’s chest, John slippery and burring with energy beneath him. John likes the red pills that can be bought for ten pence in the loo at the Cavern. Paul doesn’t; they make his eyes feel too big.
They’re on the floor here and Paul just doesn’t want to be left behind. It’s something they have in common, one of the few things besides the music and their hometown and their vanished mothers. He latches onto John’s hips and knows in his heart that John will never be forgotten, and John is twitching and pushing up carefully. Paul bites his collarbone but it doesn’t really work because there is still leather and shirt between his teeth and John’s skin.
John has perfect skin. Paul remembers seeing him run out of some bird’s house with his shirt and shoes in his hands, leaving screams and broken plates behind him. Now Paul opens John’s jacket and his shirt and can see again that none of John’s hard life has left a mark on him. Paul’s head is afire, and he wishes he could write a song that feels like this.
John is shaking. John is mostly crazy and has these eyes that it hurts to look at, and his trousers are tight, stiff fabric under Paul’s fingers. He’s saying, “macca,” over and over again like his chest is collapsing, but he’s not telling Paul to stop.
Paul kisses each of John’s ribs and scratches his name with his teeth onto John’s stomach. He shifts down and his foot kicks his guitar, knocking it over with a hollow strum. John jerks and his head comes up, his eyes glittering down the streaked path of his own body to where Paul is blinking back at him, wet-mouthed. John sneers.
“That’s the prettiest sound to come out of that bloody thing I ever heard you make.” John makes something like a grin, but none of John’s smiles ever look real.
Paul clutches John’s hips in both hands and swallows, thinking that it doesn’t matter what becomes of the two of them, as long as he can get John to stop talking, as long as he can just make John buck up and bruise his shoulder blades, as long as he’s careful enough not to break his guitar.
endnotes: yes, i am a total beatles nerd. what, you are surprised? you should see the walls of the room where i grew up. covered in pictures. they are now, as ever, the best band in the world.
beatles slash presents the problem, obviously, of no room at all for baseball. one of the big reasons why i only wrote one gattaca fic. interestingly, only like two people ever made mention of the fact that pretty much all of my west wing stories make at least an oblique reference to the game. somebody who's followed me all the way from there to here said to me, you know, if a person was paying attention, you can kind of see it coming.