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like there's no tomorrow, for janie_tangerine [Dec. 24th, 2011|10:21 am]
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[janie_tangerine]
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Title: Like There’s No Tomorrow
Author: hitlikehammers
Recipient: janie_tangerine
Rating: R
Pairing: Charlie/Richard
Warnings: Sexual situations, mentions of drug use
Summary: Since before he can remember, all Charlie’s ever needed was the music, the beat.
Author notes: I tried to work in a (pre)-S1 feel with your prompt of “Meeting at a concert” -- I just hope you’ll 1) forgive my rustiness with this fandom, and 2) not hate the somewhat-unorthodox pairing I pulled out of your favorite characters list. Either way, though, I hope you enjoy it, and Happy Holidays!




Like There’s No Tomorrow

Since before he can remember -- as in really remember: more than yellowed photographs or his granddad's half-mad stories come Christmas holidays at his Aunt Moureen's place down in Surrey; since before he can even rightly say, the music's been what moves him, what thrums faster and hotter and harder in his veins than any of his brother’s highs, and it's what takes him, consumes him and brings him up, fuller and deeper than he knows how to get on his own, than he suspects even Liam can promise with the drugs -- when he's playing a sold-out show in front of rows of screaming girls, crowd peppered with the kind of jailbait you can't even dream up on the best of nights, that he knows, fucking knows his bandmates can’t hardly touch with a needle near their arms and a hand on their dicks; when the music's got him he doesn't see the fans. When the music's got him, none of it matters: the sex, the money and the fame, the way Liam asks him every fucking night once he’s too far gone to remember, to bloody fucking think; the way Liam asks him to take a hit, just one -- all of that shit just waits at the door.

When he's playing to the stars, to the skies overhead, all he knows is the cadence, the relentlessness of the beat.

So there's no precedent, really; there's no explaining why every time he hits a chord, every time he wraps up a finger-bleeding solo or catches his breath off the chorus, pulls back from Liam's mic, his eyes wander to the same slip of chest, the same peek of skin inching out from an unbuttoned oxford, the collar of it wrinkled and limp at the sides of a lean, sinewy neck, shirt the color of mesas and old rust, of sunsets and certain kinds of sand -- eyes hooded, but Charlie thinks they're likely dark.

But the fact is that there's no explanation for why Charlie fucking Pace can't keep his gaze from wandering, can’t keep his hands from nearly missing their mark here and there, all because of a tall, dark, yet largely unremarkable stranger standing, motionless -- never even moving to the beat -- just at the left of the stacks.

There's no explanation, no precedent, but suddenly the music isn't all that Charlie knows; the music alone's not enough.

________________________________

Roderick tells him about a score he’s landed, waiting in the van, but Charlie’s preoccupied once the show’s done with, Charlie’s buzzing with something different, something the rest of them can’t touch.

So he waves Rod off, saying he needs a drink; which he does, to be honest -- he really fucking needs a drink, he needs to get pissed like there’s no tomorrow, if he’s frank about it, but what he’s hoping for more than oblivion -- more than the reason below the reason why he tells Rod to sod off and take his pussies and scag with him, because he needs but he won’t, not yet --

What he’s really hoping for is to run into the stranger in the blood-red shirt on his way through the venue; he’s hoping to plough straight into him, solid chest against him, breathe him in unnoticed before he pulls away and stares.

So he shrugs on a nondescript grey sweatshirt in hopes of evading attention, in hopes of sliding through the crowd unnoticed -- covers his ink and hikes the hood up around his head, keeps his chin down and his eyes up. He hits the edge of the bar at the back of the club with his hip and slides onto a vacated stool, and he’s a fucking moron, really, because he could get a goddamned drink with the guys, with the girls they’ve picked up for the night, but he’s out here, out here alone, and vulnerable, and gesturing for a drink, any drink, like he’s a goddamned beggar, like he’s got no taste, no discretion, no care; and the barkeep’s turned away and walking when a glass, from out of nowhere, settles cold, slick into his outstretched hand.

He shifts his glance, follows fingers -- long ones, elegant but not smooth -- up a wrist, forearm -- subtly tanned, the color different under the neons, the fluorescents at the bar -- to the rolled-up cuff of a shirt: rust-red, sanguine, and;

“That was one hell of a set.”

And that’s not the voice he’s expecting -- he doesn’t know what he was expecting instead, exactly, just that this isn’t quite it; it’s a little bit rougher, a little less deep, and those eyes, when he looks, are something more, lined darker than Charlie’d thought up in his head.

“Cheers,” Charlie says around a swallow, bringing the stranger’s gift to his lips, and his throat’s suddenly raw, suddenly sore and swollen with more than the screaming and the singing and the way he draws in breath, fast and shallow, frantic and full on the stage -- the way he draws in breath now, no reason for it, no sense in it except for how close this man is, how near and how the warmth in him’s right there, tangible and too slight, cool and yet magnetic inside the heat of the club, the bodies filing out. Charlie can feel his pulse in the pads of his fingers, slippery and unclean on the glass.

The stranger takes Charlie’s drink, the one he’d actually ordered, when it arrives, and Charlie can’t help but watch the way his throat works when he gulps it down, the way the swallow itself moves the muscles, pushes out against his carotid and give Charlie a glimpse of the pump of his blood below the skin, the pulse-point at his neck visible for an instant, a throb and then a give, and then gone.

And Christ, Charlie hasn’t felt this off-balance, this on-point, about to tumble or surge or combust -- he hasn’t felt this way in ages; more than.

“It’s been longer than I care to admit since I’ve been to a show like this,” the stranger tells him, doesn’t smile, looks kind of sad, and the way he talks is like a song in itself -- drives Charlie to an edge he doesn’t recognize, can’t quite identify, didn’t even know was there.

And Charlie, well -- Charlie’s had to look twice in the mirror more often than not, these days; doesn’t recognize himself at first-glance all the time, like he should. He’s turning into something he doesn’t really know, he can feel it, can sense it, and he prays his fucking rosary in the morning and at night, but it’s empty, he’s empty, and the world’s collapsing, the band’s pulling at the seams, and Charlie stares at his brother’s syringes, sometimes, and thinks what if and why not before he vomits in the tour bus’s toilet. Charlie’s falling to goddamned pieces, and he doesn’t have time to play games.

But come the day when he doesn’t have time to follow, to match a song, a symphony as keen as the one this man’s got playing behind his words, behind his eyes, well; that’s the day that Charlie Pace may as fucking well be dead.

“You wanna get out of here?” he asks, because that’s what he wants, and the stranger doesn’t smile, but his limbs move like grace itself when he sets his glass down, takes Charlie’s from his hand and settles it just beside.

“You know?” the stranger says, and it’s a change of tempo, a shift in the composition that makes Charlie’s heart beat harder at the bone; “I think I just might.”

Charlie’s fingers itch for a string, for a note, so he slides off the stool and walks, listens for the rhythm of their footfalls in the night and follows it, lets it spell out the rest.

________________________________

Charlie’s grateful for a lot of things in his miserable, marvelous, half-fucked little life. He’s grateful for his brother -- grateful for that the shit his brother shoots into his veins hasn’t killed him yet. He’s grateful for the band, though he knows, knows in a place and a way that’s bigger and bolder than words or explanations, that they’re on their way out, that this will be it for them, and that whatever waits after might simply just not be enough. He’s grateful for his family, far as they are, little as he sees them. He’s grateful for his faith, as hollow as she sounds these days.

And most of all, in this moment, he’s grateful for this stranger in this rented hotel bed -- he’s grateful for this stranger’s long, elegant fingers, rough in all the creases, stroking at his skin; grateful for this stranger’s slightly-sharp, only-a-tad-bit-crooked teeth, grazing his neck, this stranger’s full lips sucking marks into his flesh as he pants, as he feels like his veins are going to burst and his soul’s gonna come undone in the interim, the interlude that builds between them as Charlie gropes, cups, teases the edge of a fingernail down his length and keens up, swallows down a moan and a gasp and a prayer he doesn’t understand as he cants, as he thrusts his hips up, catches friction in between them at the hips and trails his wet mouth down the stranger’s chin, drags his tongue against the stubble there, and relishes the build, moves his lips without words, gasps, gasps;

“Richard,” the stranger says, and Charlie doesn’t even care, just breathes back out;

“M’Charlie,” but;

“No,” the stranger says back as Charlie nips up his jawline, feels the tightness grow unbearable in his belly, at his groin, and all he can taste is himself between them, sweat from the stage and dried blood, coagulated, unhinged in the crease of his lip where he’d bitten it, where he’d fucking tried to regain focus and failed; and it's almost like this guy's got nothing, like he doesn't have a fucking prayer, not a pittance, not a scrap of life in him to spare, to give to this -- except that's not quite true, except Charlie’s coming hard, fast, messy and hot and the stranger is working him through the last of it, tonguing into his mouth at the cut in his lip and kissing him, devouring him like he hasn’t known in far too long.

Charlie’s lost in a haze for a second that lasts a good long while; he’s pressed loose into the man next to him, who’s sprawled there, sucking at the sweat, the callouses on his fingers, biting on the knuckles until the tape loses grip, until there's no fate in this except what happens, no intent expect what comes, and none of it's written, they're not meant for this, and Charlie doesn't read what's set in stone, because it lies, because nothing's that permanent, not a goddamn thing is made to hold.

“I meant me,” the man tells him, murmurs in undertones, in the sticky flesh of Charlie’s collarbone -- the end and beginning of the song that he sings; “My name is Richard.”

It means something more than Charlie can grasp hold of -- and maybe that’s the point of it all, maybe that’s what they get when things come apart and the innards spill out.

They’re both quiet, and Charlie’s bone-fuckin’ tired, and he can’t be sure of what’s real and what isn’t, what stanzas are sung in the world or his head, but his heart beats fast and furious and then slow and sluggish to its own rogue beat, and there are hands, gentle and true on his skin, all over -- up and down the lengths of his arms, dancing, shivering, and Charlie tenses and eases with every pass they make, because he’s dragged the tip of Liam’s needles over that skin, he’s sobbed and gasped and hated himself for the lines he can imagine there, just like his big brother, just like that. There are hands, then, that settle, hard and heavy at the middle of his chest, counting the measures, speaking something fierce.

“A day is going to come, Charlie,” and Charlie’s own hand doesn’t listen, doesn’t wait for a command, just comes to cover Richard’s where it sits above the muscle, the music, and Richard doesn’t finish the thought, doesn’t specify the when, because there are givens in this world that don’t need stone to settle in, a stake to claim, and Charlie understands. This is one of them.

“Play your heart out,” Richard speaks to the rhythm, just a half-step out of sync. “Play your heart out every time.”

Charlie drifts off, slips the rest of the way down, and he knows Richard will be gone come morning.

He doesn’t have it in him to fight; he knows that even the best tracks come to a close.
________________________________

Liam overdoses the next night, s’half dead by the time they get him to hospital; they cancel the last five dates on the tour, spend the days at his bedside and arranging rehab.

Charlie smells the stranger, smells Richard on his skin, on his clothes -- he doesn’t have time to change, with Liam, with everything -- for hours, for days after he’s gone, and Charlie wonders -- he wonders about days. Wonders when they’ll come.

And his heart’s a drum in the middle of his fucking chest, and he bites at his lip at the ghost, the specter left behind in the shape of a hand, the pressure of the world and gravity and hope and hate upon his ribs; his heart’s a drum in the middle of his chest, and he can taste blood on his tongue and fear in his pulse, and he only knows one thing as he settles a palm of his own above the beat.

Until the song gives out, until there’s no time left: he’s gonna play it like he’s meant to, like there’s no goddamned tomorrow.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: zelda_zee
2011-12-29 05:57 am (UTC)
This is fantastic! I really loved it. Great syncopation in your prose, weaving the theme of music throughout.

Richard's words, "A day is going to come..." and "Play your heart out" resonate so deeply knowing Charlie's eventual fate.

Love the sadness of this story, just a wonderful job, gorgeous!
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