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13 August 2005 @ 12:46 am
 
Woo. I finally finished something! It's the OMGANGST type of something, but it's a something. Of course, I started it about eight months ago, but I abandoned it as a lost cause until today. XP




Countdown

By Cate

Summary: New Year's Eve, 1973. He's the man who has everything: a past that he can't forget, a present he'd give anything to remember, and a future that he'd love to change.

Rating: R.

Word Count: 2,130.

A dark haired, dark eyed man in a heavy blue overcoat leaned against the wall of a building, arms folded over his chest, staring up at a great glittering ball suspended high above the heads of the mass of people packed like sardines in the roped off area. I hate crowds, he thought, scowling a bit at the loudly chattering, brightly dressed folks around him, and particularly at a very inebriated aviation blond woman wearing eight inch neon orange platform heels, a bright green jumpsuit, and turquoise eyeshadow and speaking at the top of her lungs in a nasal, whingy voice to a portly, equally drunken man (who reminded him a bit of one of his old teachers) who was talking even louder, right over the top of her words. Paul's boyish, cherubic face didn't carry such an expression too well, even with his thick five-- no, not five, eleven-- o'clock shadow. He didn't much care.

The peacock woman suddenly rounded on him, bottle blond hair sticking a bit to the sweat and rouge on her young but worn face. "Hey!" she slurred, "you're Paul McCartney, ain't you?" He could hear a thick New Jersey accent in her voice. The scent of gin washed over him and he closed his eyes, sinuses quite offended by the sudden attack.

"No," he said shortly, reopening his eyes and running a long fingered, callused hand through his hair. He raised an indignant brow at the woman.

She took a moment to process the curt response. "Yes you are," she replied with a hiccup. "If you ain't Paul McCartney I'm the Queen of England!"

Rolling his eyes, he took a knee in front of her. "Your Majesty," he muttered, then stood. She turned to the fat man and started yammering at him again about Beatles, and Paul made a quick escape, slipping into an alleyway. A fire escape ladder hung down in front of him, bottom rung at chest level, and he thought for a moment before jumping, grabbing onto the third rung, and pulling himself up by it with surprisingly strong arms.

He climbed the ladder quickly and took the mesh steel stairs as high as they went, all the way to the roof. His lips curved into a slight smile and he held his arms out for balance, walking to the middle of the roof and sitting down. He reclined against the dark shingles, staring up into oblivion. The city lights made the sky a muddy brown, drowning out the piercing white light of the stars to a faint yellowish glow.

I hate big cities.

It wasn't exactly true, but it was no secret that the bassist indeed preferred a country home to the smog, skyscrapers, and honking car horns of the city. He yawned and folded his arms behind his head, wondering for a second why the hell anyone even cared about the start of a new year, why it was such a big event. It was just another day.

It was not his style to be bitter, but he was too tired and annoyed to realise that his ponderances sounded exactly like his old mate, John. He closed his eyes, breathing in the scent of tar from the rooftop he was currently lying on.

He felt a gentle but firm hand on his shoulder and jumped, eyes snapping open. "What!?"

"Shut up," said an all too familiar voice, and Paul looked up. The speaker was crouched near his head, staring down at him. He wore round gold-framed spectacles over hazel eyes, perched on the bridge of a relatively large nose. His grey wool coat brushed the shingles of the rooftop as he leaned back a bit to keep from falling.

Paul's eyes widened, dark eyebrows arching high. "John?" he whispered, in awe.

"Told you to shut up," he laughed. His breath smelled of Scotch. If he wasn't drunk, he was getting that way. He slid down on the roof to lie next to Paul.

The dark haired man sighed. "I don't follow orders," he said, brushing John's words off. "What are you doing here?"

"I live here. Well. When I've not been kicked out of my flat, at least." John scratched his neck. "The more pressing question is what you're doing here."

I wanted to see if you'd come back. Running a hand through his hair, Paul shrugged. "I... came to see you. But I got to the Dakota and... and Yoko told me you were off sulking in England. I'd heard about... that... but I didn't know if it was true or not. Uhm... I was already here, so I, er, decided to stay. I already had the room booked. And all that."

John looked a bit skeptical, but shrugged. "Well fancy that."

"Yeah."

The pair sat in a slightly uncomfortable silence, during which Paul's eyes fell upon the glimmering ball again. The older man watched him with interest. "Paulie the magpie," he teased, in an effort to lighten the mood.

"Hm." Paul folded his arms over his chest, shivering despite his warm clothing.

Turning on his side, John put a hand on Paul's arm. "We're not violating any secret codes by actually speaking to each other, Macca. You know that, right?"

Paul opened his mouth to reply, but closed it again when he found no words. He sighed and glanced over at the older man after a moment's thought. "John... I... it's just... I feel weird. Talking to you like a friend or whatever. It's... it's weird," he finished lamely, rubbing at his thigh with the heel of his hand. Last time I tried to talk to you like this, I'm the one who got kicked out of your flat.

"Don't talk to me as a friend, then," muttered John. "Talk to me as a John Lennon." Didn't I love you once? Feels like it, but I don't think I remember, quite.

With a huge sigh, Paul put a hand over his face. "John... things between us were... rough. Really rough, especially toward the end of it all. You can't just expect me to be able to think of something entertaining to talk about without digging up some damn memory or other that's either going to make us cry or make us scream at each other." He paused. "That's just... the way it is."

John groaned. "Paul, tell me about some book you've read. Tell me about... about the weather. Just talk to me. Please...."

"Oh... John...." He clicked his tongue and turned over to face the guitarist. He's lonely, isn't he? Hell, I would be. Resting a hand on John's arm and wracking his brain for painless discussion topics, he closed his eyes. "Hm... um... oh! Okay. I, uh... I have a little girl. Stella. She's two." He paused and blinked; John was giving him a Look. "What?"

"Congratulations, but I already know. How could I not? I read the daily rag once in a while, you know."

"... Oh, right." Paul's cheeks flushed and he turned onto his back again, staring up at the sky.

Another silence took them, this one even more uncomfortable than the last. Paul cleared his throat a couple of times, then realised he had nothing to say.

John finally spoke. "Paul?"

Taking a deep breath, Paul nodded as though expecting the older man to go. "John."

"... No, I'm not leaving," he mumbled. "It's just...." He lapsed into silence again, briefly, grasping desperately for something to say. "I can barely remember what it was like before we split. The band."

Paul blinked. "What, just before?"

"All of it," sighed John. It wasn't true-- he thought of Paul at least thrice daily, about long nights spent writing shoulder to shoulder, eye to eye, and often lip to lip; about being walked in on in the middle of a long, tender kiss by Brian (who had been quite understanding, as they'd expected, but it'd been embarrassing in any case); about making each other sick because they couldn't keep their hands off each other, couldn't stop kissing even when one was ill; about their long conversations as lads; about falling asleep together, almost mid-word, and waking up comfortably in each other's arms. They'd never intended to be in such positions, but they'd ended up there more often than not. Once in a while, it became awkward; they were teenage boys, and teenage boys, of course, are prone to bouts of hormonal interference. And it didn't help that their dreams hadn't been about "Brigitte" and "Marilyn," as they'd oft mumbled to the gentle touch of callused, awkward hands.

One day, John had groaned Paul's name against his neck during one of these sessions. He remembered that as plain as day. They'd fallen asleep on a lazy afternoon and he'd awoken from a particularly intense dream. Paul was spooned behind him, holding him tight. John woke him with a soft but urgent kiss, and they'd gotten to it, murmuring quiet words and unintelligible gibberish alike, hips rocking and twitching as they touched and panted, feeling each other out, pleasure amplified tenfold by the fantasies in their heads. John had always kept his mind on Something Else before, but the feeling of Paul's hands-- this was not just anyone, but Paul here in his arms, holding him, touching him-- was particularly strong today. He held it back, but as he finished, he heard himself cry out "oh yes, Paul!", and found that saying it made the sensations a hundred times better. It embarrassed him, but it was the most amazing revelation he'd ever had.

Paul had blushed afterward and they'd cleaned up, eyes averted from each other, but he confessed afterward that he'd been thinking the same. And John had smiled quietly and kept about his business.

He said "I love you" the next day, and again, Paul blushed. This time he confided "I love you too."

Back in the present, Paul sighed and chewed his lip. "Johnny, it was rough. It didn't work, it never did."

You motherfucker.

"I loved you, but...."

Fucking bastard.

"... But it didn't work out, Johnny. I thought we got past this."

What the fuck is wrong with you, you sick fuck?

"Don't look at me like that, John."

Sometimes I forget why I hate you. I don't know how.

"... I love you," Paul said, not faltering under John's silent stare.

Never say that again. John sighed and sat up. "Just don't. I'm sorry I insisted on talking to you."

"I stayed here because I wanted you to come back, John! Every night since I got here, I begged for it! You told me a million times in February '64 alone, John, say it and I'll go!"

Caught off-guard, John looked over his shoulder, eyebrows lifted. "Say what?"

Paul's face was red and there were unshed tears in his eyes. "'I love you'."

John found his own eyes wet; he blinked and cursed the tear that slipped out and rolled down his cheek. "I love you, Paul." He paused. "Now, leave."

"Kiss me."

"I'm about to hit you, Paul, get the fuck away before I do."

"Kiss me, damn you!" demanded the dark-haired man, grabbing John's arm forcefully and yanking him onto the roof beside him, moving to lean over him. "You want me to fuck off, then kiss me goodbye! Tell me you don't wish it'd ended differently! I need to fucking hear that so I can go about my God damned business, John! I love you!"

"You motherfucker, I hated you until I saw you again tonight, why the fuck couldn't you leave me alone!?"

"Fuck you!"

"You'd love to, don't deny it!"

"Cunt!"

"Narcissistic son of a bitch!"

"Queer!"

Paul yelped as John smacked him across the face, hard, but refused to give in to the rough treatment.

"... I was never queer for anyone but you," said John in a dangerous whisper. "That's over."

Five.

"Show me," said Paul, keeping back the tears brimming in his eyes in favour of a furious glare. "Show me it's over. Are you afraid to kiss an old lover goodbye?"

Four.

If I kiss you, I'll never want to stop, you fucker. John swallowed and shook his head. "No. I love you," he muttered quietly, standing awkwardly on the rooftop and starting to walk away. "That can serve as 'goodbye' enough for now."

Three.

"Johnny!" cried the younger man, lying on the tar in shock, legs too weak to stand and follow him, tears flowing freely, dark lips parted in suprise, breath coming in sharp pants.

Two.

The guitarist turned and motioned as if tipping his hat. "Paul."

One.

As the ball dropped and the crowd below screamed joyously, John strode away into the light, blurred in Paul's vision by wet lashes and long-withheld tears.

- End.




Cate
 
 
Current Mood: crankycranky
Current Music: I have no CDs. ;_; I left them at work.
 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
Il Gatto Puzzolonecatnip_martini on August 13th, 2005 08:06 am (UTC)
Oh luv, thank you very much. ♥

All I really write is what I see: two men with so much passion and fear and heartache and, above all, love. A volatile mix. When it's good, it's very good. When it's bad, things get frightening. But they really had a beautiful story. In any case, I really, really appreciate the feedback. Thank you.

And I just posted another chapter of "Soldier". *poke* You're reading my mind, wtf. :)

Cate
oh_johnny_oh_johnny_ on August 13th, 2005 11:27 am (UTC)
Oh. My. God.

Well, I suppose turnabout is fair play. Now you've broken me.

This is beautiful, and the way they swear at each other, the way they love and hate simultaneously, and, oh god, the way they don't kiss - perfect.


Il Gatto Puzzolonecatnip_martini on August 14th, 2005 02:37 am (UTC)
*offers glue and chocolate* ♥

Thank you very much, luv. God, this fic was so different originally in my head. I've grown up a lot as a person in the past few months, and I think this is the product of that. I'm so glad you liked it-- you're one of the best (if not the best) writers on here, so it means a lot coming from you.

Cate
oh_johnny_oh_johnny_ on August 14th, 2005 03:02 am (UTC)
*blush* Thank you.


whatsherass on August 13th, 2005 03:15 pm (UTC)
YEOW!! That was GREAT! I LURVED all the conflicted emotions... the angst was sweet. Your dialogue was super, too! I could hear it all coming out of their mouths. You have a v. good ear for the way they speak.

The teenage memories were H-O-T. HOT, HOT. Can I bribe you into writing some more horny-teen-boy, Liverpool-era fics? :)
Il Gatto Puzzolonecatnip_martini on August 14th, 2005 02:51 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm always glad to hear opinions on my dialogue, because my writing style has really changed a lot over the past year, and I'm always worrying about the dialogue. But to hear that several times over really makes my day. XD

ZOMG. Teensex? You perv! (In other words, I require no bribes-- I'd love to, but I can't think of any good storylines at the mo'. D'you have anything in particular you'd like me to build it on?)

Cate
whatsherass on August 15th, 2005 12:59 am (UTC)
Heh! Yeah, I realized afterwards that my comment sounded a little pervy... Well, how bout something that is only minorly (no pun intended) explicit? Honestly, the incident you described (accidental name-moaning) was pretty brilliant. That one by itself could make a great story.

By the way this: "prone to bouts of hormonal interference" was the most awesome turn of phrase eva. ;)
banburytalebanburytale on August 13th, 2005 06:03 pm (UTC)
Simply lovely. John and Paul's romance was tragic and exquisite and you've captured it so well. And you've left us just a tiny opening for hope when John says goodbye "for now."
Il Gatto Puzzolonecatnip_martini on August 14th, 2005 03:12 am (UTC)
Thank you very much, luv! ♥ Very glad you enjoyed it.

And aye, I was hoping people would catch the "for now" drift. Because, as Paul said, everything was indeed resolved before John died. It can't end here.

Cate
apartment42bapartment42b on August 13th, 2005 08:41 pm (UTC)
Oooh. This is really great, love! All the details and the build-up is incredible, and I love the way the end bleeds off the page, so to speak; it's the end of this event, but there's stuff on either end of things that we don't see but we kinda feel is there. It's cinematic, too... somehow reminds me of a made-for-TV movie, but not in a bad way, lol.

Very cool, baby :)
Il Gatto Puzzolonecatnip_martini on August 14th, 2005 03:21 am (UTC)
Thanks, baby!

Ahh, I'm so very glad that the ending worked, and I'm very happy you liked it! ♥

As for made-for-TV movie, think about this and then think about "Two Of Us". I've never seen it, but I think subconsciously that I was trying to write this to be like a prologue to it.

*tacklehugs*

Cate
whatsherass on August 14th, 2005 11:14 pm (UTC)
Sorry for the cheesy plug, but dude you should see "Two of Us." It's very very well done (writing, acting, directing, the whole nine yards). It has plently of delicious subtext, as well; I certainly don't think it suggests they were "just friends."
shine on you crazy diamondistarnie on August 13th, 2005 09:05 pm (UTC)
There's something depressingly satisfying about an angsty ending that's so believeable. You write them very well, and you seem to know exactly the right emotions and words to insert, and where. The development worked very well, John being reminded he's still in love with him, and just not being able to handle it. Paul not wanting to talk because he knows what will happen, and then, indeed, having it happen. Beautiful angst.
Il Gatto Puzzolonecatnip_martini on August 14th, 2005 03:36 am (UTC)
Aw... thanks, luv. ♥ I really appreciate that. I've always liked to put a bit of a not quite cowardly but definitely fearful tinge on John's personality when I write him in situations like this, and Paul's definitely the stronger one till it comes down to it.

Thanks again. :)

Cate
oceanchild808oceanchild808 on August 13th, 2005 09:54 pm (UTC)
Oooh, this was lovely. I agree with previous comments--you write with such believablility and the subtext is palpable. Beautiful, beautiful work.
Il Gatto Puzzolonecatnip_martini on August 14th, 2005 03:52 am (UTC)
♥ Thank you, luv. I'm very glad you enjoyed it. :)

Cate
hollywood_song on August 16th, 2005 04:36 pm (UTC)
There's nothing I can add that hasn't already been said. Except that you're brilliant. And you made me cry. Excellent, amazing, wonderful, insertnewadjectivehere job.