(i also have a feeling this is NOT the final FINAL version I sent off, because that one had a Velvet Goldmine quote on the front, which is not there in this one. but it's pretty close.
the fireworks affair
strong pg-13, maybe? kissing and swearing.
julian casablancas (the strokes)/courtney taylor-taylor (the dandy warhols)
warning: postmodern wankery ahead. exploration of fangirl/writer psyche as well as one of the most indie pairings you're likely to meet.
thanks to: aquandrian for the beta, alison_12 (rip, much missed), for the original idea for the pairing, rhoppo for not chucking a spack about teh ghey. (that one's a long story, let's not even go into why i have a roleplaying journal for my old english teacher.)
Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite:
“Fool,” said my Muse to me “look in thy heart and write!”
Philip Sidney, Astrophel and Stella
[I had seven faces
thought I knew which one to wear…[i] ]
Julian walks the streets of the glitteringly dirty city that he’s called home for as long as he can remember.
It doesn’t feel like home tonight. Or any of the nights he’s spent lately, walking, wondering. It’s perverse, like he’s doing that other, uneasy w-word as he stumbles slightly drunken over the gritty pavements. Like he’s trying desperately to find that higher place only accessible to the post-coital. Only it’s not a place he’s seeking. It’s the person who gets him to that place.
Julian spins around, stares wildly for the source of the echoing shout. It's a somewhat sleazy looking club manager ushering a smoking drag queen back into a club.
“It’s not good enough, Courtney, not another break! The patrons want their money’s worth!”
The irony of this mix up is not lost on Julian.
“Courtney? Isn’t that a girl’s name?”
“You think I don’t get that 10 times a day? Seriously, one day my mom and dad are gonna pay for that one…”
“I didn’t, y’know, mean it in a bad way. I was just…y’know, curious.”
“You look it.”
Light catches the shimmering residue.
Move back in for more.
Julian contemplates going to Nick’s place, Fab’s place, anyone’s place…but then he thinks that they all have somebody there. Everyone except him.
I have somebody. He corrects himself. Somebody who is everybody, really.
somebody on the other side of the country, his sub-conscious tells him in that annoyingly right way.
Shut up. Julian hates himself sometimes.
“Awww, shut up.”
Laughs. “It’s so true, Court. Maybe you’ve done it too many times to notice anymore.”
“Since when do you know what a male prostitute looks like anyway?”
“I don’t have to know to know that you look like one when you do that thing…See, you’re doing it again!”
Lets out a very unmanly scream as his stomach and chest are pummelled mercilessly.
“Argh! Okay…stop it…”
Chokes slightly as he is used as a chair of sorts, pinned to the bed.
“Yes, yes, give…”
Smiles as he watches the victorious grin turn into a slight pout.
“You’re too easy.”
“You should know, my little whore…”
Winces as he is slapped for this little comment.
“Why do I stay with you when all you do is abuse me?”
Spicy, wet, hot, intoxicating.
“Because you know you love it, Julian Casablancas.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too. More than anything.”
An earth shattering bang makes Julian start out of his reverie. Sparkling fragments fall from the sky, and he can hear the “oooh, aahh” response of the people nearby. He watches as another of these man made comets arches across the sky with trails of shimmering green brilliance. Another, silvery-grey, explodes in a blossom of stardust light. As the sparks fall, Julian thinks of sparkling deep grey-blue eyes, sweaty honey and white chocolate skin entwined and kisses that taste similar, with just a hint of red wine and cigarettes to deflower those innocent, childlike sensations.
“Is that really it?”
“Yeah. Totally. Big, Fourth of July fireworks. Lots of sparks, hot, always that little bit of summer in them.”
“For me, it’s…it’s like the best song you’ve ever heard. Does that make sense?”
“Like, imagine if you could write a song with lyrics that spoke to everyone, and yet were so personal you can’t imagine anyone understanding them. Melodies that just…fit, y’know? The perfect drum beat. Not too fast, not too slow. That’s it for me, right there. The song I’ll never be able to write.”
Even the air has stopped breathing.
Relieved laugh; he gets it.
There’s the smell of smoke in the air: of excitement, joy, extreme happiness. Julian struggles to feel anything but desolation; he doesn’t want his crushing depression to seep into these oblivious, undeserving people.
[And New York City’s very pretty in the nighttime…[ii] ]
I deserve it. he tells himself. I fell in love with him…I let myself get dragged in.
yes, you deserve it. you deserve to be loved.
Julian pushes aside that little voice again, repeating what so many others have said to him before.
“You think too much.”
“So I’ve been told.”
“You need to do less thinking, more spontaneous doing.”
Deep, intense, so easy to get lost in.
“You weren’t thinking then, I can tell. Not everything is as complex as you’d imagine, Jules.”
“You made that simple.”
You look at that ending, the end of the beginning of your piece de resistance. Some people might call this a misplaced fangirl fantasy, you know.
Shut up, you tell me sternly. It’s art. Writing is an art form, however you come to do it. And people tell me it’s beautifully written.
Never told you it wasn’t. Note: some people.
Would I be writing this if I thought you were just another rabid fangirl?
Of course you’re not. You’re a rabid fangirl who happens to have a way with words and access to a word processor.
Probably not, you concede.
Good. Let’s get on with it.
You save your masterpiece, copy it all, and open up your little connection that assures you you’re not alone, that other people share your fantasies.
Log in. What’s your name? Oh no…you’re not serious…
Stop laughing! It’s not funny!
Oh, I’m sorry. But…court_julesislove? And you say you’re not a fangirl…
How did I end up with such a sarcastic composer?
You didn’t. I’m deadly serious at all times, baby.
You roll your eyes. My point is proven.
You load your update page, paste it in.
Of course. Who else, you couldn’t write without Courtney drawling there with you, could you?
Not when Julian hears him too.
How can you tell?
He talks to me. They both do. Like you do, bubs.
Hmm. And here I thought I was being original.
[it’s a better way to feel
don’t be real, be postmodern…[iii] ]
No, you’re not original, just trapped in a postmodern paradigm where you feel the need to be constantly self-reflexive and referential. I am you, when we come down to it.
I don’t think I like this thread. I’m feeling a little insecure.
Well, while you’ve been fretting, I’ve been posting. So now I’m going to bed, whether you like it or not.
Wait wait! Did you disclaimer?
Yeaah! When do I not?
What did you say?
You load up the page where your mind has been displayed for all and sundry to view. I read:
The Fireworks Affair
AUTHOR: Addie, aka [Bad username: court_julesislove]
FANDOM: Strokes/Dandy Warhols
PAIRING: Julian Casablancas/Courtney Taylor Taylor
RATING: a strong PG-13, maybe. there's assumed boylove, and some kissing.
DISCLAIMER: Swear to God, they're not mine. If they were, this wouldn't be happening. It wouldn't have been written, i wouldn't have time to write dirty stories about them, i'd be too busy using them as my own personal sex toys *g*.
Aha, good. I was wondering if you’d forgotten with all that arguing.
No, I didn’t! You sound outraged.
I shake my head. Paranoia: a writer’s most endearing trait.
You smirk. Spose you’d know about that, huh?
Weren’t you going to bed?
[you’re not that social, just a good drinker.[iv] ]
Courtney looks up at the swirling, somewhat menacing clouds. They tumble and roll over each other so thickly, soupy like that last bit of ice cream in the bottom of a milkshake, or the fruit pulp at the bottom of a cocktail.
“Remind me never to let you make me anything more complicated than a straight vodka again.”
“Aww, c’mon, it wasn’t that bad!”
“Jules, who puts plums and apricots in a blender with gin and expects it to taste good?”
“That’s what the butterscotch schnapps was for!”
Shakes head. “You’re crazy.”
Has to smile at the goofy grin.
“But likeably so, right?”
Downs a shot of said schnapps, plants a kiss of sugarcoated fire on those lips that immediately absorb any trace of the sticky burn.
Tastes those bloody apricots on the back of the kiss.
The clouds, Courtney decides, are dancing. But it’s not a happy jig or some sort of lively tap dance; it’s more of a slow, perfectly choreographed ballet, not one unnecessary movement or step out of place. Everything and everyone today seems to know their steps, their place…they can all hear the music, except him.
People bustle past him; hippies, artists, the usual flotsam of society that often inhabit Portland. But today, even the stoners seem to have some sort of purpose to their travels. Lately Courtney’s been feeling like he’s swimming, floundering his way through his days. Playing his guitar, writing…both of these pursuits lead to the sort of sappy, craptastically clichéd love songs he swore he’d never write.
“Do you feel like it’s…I don’t know…”
“Yeah! Like, they all think they know, but you know they’ll never really understand?”
“No one will ever interpret your music the same way you do. It’s a fact that everyone will respond differently.”
“Logical, but annoying.”
“That’s my job. Now don’t get all cynical on me…as long as they’re touched somehow, it’s all good, right?”
“Y’know, I’m kinda glad people don’t see what I see when I hear my songs. I don’t think they’d want to.”
The first raindrop hits his nose, and Courtney frowns, his reverie broken. The prospect of being wet, cold and sniffle-ridden propels him, not alone, into motion. Normally he wouldn’t mind a little rain, but he doesn’t feel like facing the wrath of his bandmates when this sodden trek results in his usually smooth, cool cat voice being drowned by a gravely raspy cough. Particularly as this might lead to questions as to why he was out walking by himself in the rain, a favourite pastime of the moment, which then might lead to queries about his brooding that, of late, would make Heathcliff proud. Courtney considered his own equivalent -a large drinking/drugs session, resulting in a huge, horrible hangover the next day, but decided against it, as this would definitely draw unwanted attention to his current state.
[I retreat into self-pity, it’s so easy
when they patronise my misery…[v] ]
His bandmates, he fears, won’t understand.
Won’t understand why he left that nice, stable relationship with that lovely, well-balanced, sane yoga instructor with enough good karma to start selling it off to others (not that she would…that’s more Courtney’s style than hers)…just so he could be with that drunken, highly unbalanced mess of a rockstar named Julian they happened to cross paths with not that long ago…
He prances across the stage; owning it, the crowd…you soon realise it’s you too, he’s got you under the same spell he’s weaving over them.
Is it because they’re brilliant?
Because they’re different from all New York indie kids who start up a band out of boredom and a need to rebel?
Not so much.
Is it because you want to run your hands over his caramel skin and feel if it’s as smooth as his liquid toffee voice?
Inner monologues, you decide, are just too right sometimes.
Courtney thinks that maybe, if Julian were here, the rain would seem more…picturesque, perhaps? Currently it just seems like flat, bleak sheets of varying opacity, covering the city like a discarded shower curtain…desolate, morose, tragic. The great grey day reflects as much in Courtney’s eyes as it does in the empty space of his heart.
Melodrama’s always been his speciality.
Sighting the large warehouse up ahead, Courtney decides to run the rest of the way through the rain to get inside.
There’s a sort of tragedy in all this, you know…
You look startled. A tragedy?
That all this will never mean anything. You could never get this published, and showing it to anyone apart from those kindred souls on the internet would probably cause you a great deal of ridicule you don’t really need, hmm?
There’s no copyright on them as people, you know.
But what if they read it, and considered it defamation? And sued you?
You snort. Not like they’d get much…
Doesn’t matter. It’s the principle of the thing, really.
Anyway. Time for an email check, I think…
You open up your communication tunnel of sorts, look through the subject lines. PENIS ENLARGEMENT PILLS!, Livejournal comments aplenty…hang on, what’s that?
What, from the DST? It’s probably just news about the Australian Strokes tour.
You realise very rapidly what it isn’t when you read it.
From : email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent : Wednesday, 31 December 2003 8:45:43 AM
Reply to : "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Congratulations, I’m so happy to tell you that you’ve won our “Meet The Strokes In Oz” competition! I’ll be sending out your Access All Areas pass to the Strokes’ show at the Horden Pavilion on 21st January this week, and there’ll be more information in the letter inclosed about the after party.
Congratulations again, and hoping you have an awesome time with the guys,
You stare at this short, mind-boggling, bemusing note in disbelief.
Oh, it’s got to be a joke. One of your friends is having you on!
Using the Strokes mailing list’s email address? I remember entering that competition…I didn’t ever imagine I’d win…
Hey, looks like you have. All your fangirl fantasies are about to come true. You’re going to meet Julian.
Saying this seems to drive it home for you, and you suddenly squeal in a scarily girlish manner.
Oh my God, oh my God, what am I going to wear?? Who am I going to take??
Decide that sort of thing later. Right now, go gloat somewhere. Message boards, communities, everywhere you can.
It’s the night of the concert. It’s the night you’ve been waiting for. It’s you and Tabitha, your equally Strokes-obsessed best friend, jumping the queue of people already lined up outside the Horden. You count Chuck Taylor sneakers as you walk past; sixty-two, and there’s only about 120 people there. Pretty boys in blazers and ripped jeans, several guys with afro-esque mops in honour of their patron saints, Albert Hammond Jnr. and Fabrizio Moretti, girls with indie-flick hair cuts and ironically kitschy shirts that all seem to announce, “I can pull this off in a way you know you never could, because of just how much cooler than you I am”, even the odd older person who looks like they might have come just to see if these guys are in fact, what the NME says they are, the next Velvet Underground perhaps. These “saviours of rock”, one of the bigger of the “The” band phenomenon, they have a lot of people’s dreams riding on their trendily dressed shoulders.
Especially, you think, yours.
Because you want this to live up to how you’ve imagined it. You have imagined meeting them so many times. There’ll be an instant connection, your dream begins, because how could there not be? Their music is the soundtrack to your life, you know exactly how Julian felt while writing each word, each riff, each well-structured collection of chords…you sometimes feel they’re almost as much yours as they are his. And you want to explain this to him, what you can’t even word to yourself, let alone to others. But you’re confident the words will come when the two of you start talking, because…because…well, that’s how it has to happen! It’s destiny. Fate. Things you normally wouldn’t believe in, except in exceptional circumstances such as this.
And, unlike the many other “groupies” he has (you’re not a groupie, you tell yourself constantly), you’re not looking to have a night of hot sex with him. You want to talk, to discuss everything, the world, his music, your own writing attempts, what his life’s like, all of it…and then, maybe you’d kiss him or something. But no, sex isn’t top of your list of things you want to experience with Julian F. Casablancas.
So those magical little laminates you and Tabitha hold turn out to be virtual magic carpets as far as getting backstage is concerned. You fly by security, cruise through to the VIP viewing area right next to the stage, and wait. They’ll be here soon, won’t they? They have to play not that long from now, they’ll have to get here a little early at least. The opening band goes on, and, disappointingly, there’s still no sign of them. But you figure it’s rude to not listen to the openers, just because they’re not the Strokes. So you watch the trio carry off a reasonable set, and once they’ve finished, compliment them as they’re walking off. They all seem genuinely excited to have played to a crowd that big, and this makes you smile. You smile even more when the gorgeous lead singer tells you how that was the largest gig they’ve ever played, and that it was also the most excited a crowd has ever got over them as an opening act. He’s like a little boy just given a new puppy, or some sort of wonderful treat: shining eyes, huge, beaming grin, frenetically twitching feet. It’s endearing, you have to admit. And you’re not unhappy when he joins the two of you for the next band, the Strokes’ touring openers. But your thoughts jolt away from him when you spot something familiar in the crowd.
You’ve only seen one person with a mohawk that incredibly loosely styled before. And your suspicions are confirmed when said coiffured head looks up, and you catch cynical, slightly clouded dark eyes surveying the stage, the crowd, the general vicinity with a sort of detached indifference that you know only he could pull off believably in a crowd of indie scenesters.
You excitedly nudge Tabitha and the boy whose name you’re yet to learn and ask them who they think it is down there. Tabitha’s mouth falls open, and she looks at you in awed shock, but the boy seems merely curious and slightly entertained by this new observation.
“Hey, that’s the guy from the Dandy Warhols, isn’t it? The one with the double barrelled last name?”
Hyperventilating slightly, you nod. It’s a little too much for one night. Julian and Courtney both this close to you at the same time? It’s overwhelmingly strange.
So strange, you don’t even notice the act onstage…you’re too busy trying to keep your eye on Courtney’s easily spottable head as he moves through the crowd, occasionally stopping for the usual rabid fan business. And, until Tabitha nudges you back, you didn’t even notice the neatly pressed suit and tie topped by the mop of hair sauntering past you to watch beside you.
Albert Hammond Jnr, guitarist for the Strokes. They’re here.
None of you say anything – you don’t know about the others, but it’s too remarkably surreal for you to think of anything that could ever express the thoughts going through your head. Instead, you watch the band onstage wail and bend their way through their set, occasionally spotting the telltale quiff of hair that tells you that Mr C.A. Taylor-Taylor is still in the building.
And when Albert disappears into the depths of the backstage beast, and the singer onstage announces that yes, sadly, this is their last song, it’s been great being here, hope to come back soon, all that, you feel something inside jump oddly. That moment you’ve been waiting for since…well, you don’t even remember when this became a daily fantasy, but it’s finally becoming a reality.
Daunting? Yes, just a little.
The crowd is restless. You can hear the babble of puzzled discussion about the delay in the otherwise fairly organised night, floating above the slight jangle-thump of the nondescript indie rock tunes being piped into the auditorium – the sort of tune that sounds familiar to everyone who listens to this sort of music, but that isn’t distinctive enough to have its own identity or to leave a lasting impression, rubbed out of memory like cheap lipstick from a cheek at the end of a night out.
Tabitha and the beautiful band boy (you congratulate yourself on some brilliant alliteration there) have struck up a conversation about their favourite bands, the best concerts they’ve been to, you and Tabitha, the boy’s band, everything. You occasionally throw in a comment of your own, but your preoccupied disposition and the distraction of trying to keep track of Courtney in the crowd (he’s now talking to a group of girls near the front) is keeping true interaction out of reach.
And then, unexpectedly, a singleted figure's arm collides with your shoulder as he strides past. It should have been your shoulder had he not been over six feet tall.
“Sorry,” he mumbles, equally distracted. Doesn’t pause, lopes across to the rim of the stage, picks up a guitar from one of the racks and slings it round his neck with a sort of careless grace, then checks the tuning briefly before turning his back on the stage, pulling his cigarettes out of his pocket and lighting one up. Now that he’s facing you, this mysterious figure is easily recognisable as Albert’s opposite number, Nick Valensi. He looks suitably disinterested in the bustle around him, but perks up somewhat when the rest of the band materialise next to him, and the four of them engage in a low discussion – wait, four? You look closer. You spot two afros, Nick’s greasy dark brown locks and a head of neatly brushed light brown hair…none of them seem concerned about the absence of their frontman, and simply pick up their instruments then walk out onto the stage to face the wall of screams and applause that greets their appearance.
A wave to the crowd from each them, and they quickly check their instruments in the way you’ve just seen Nick do; with a sort of love that only comes when someone is deeply involved with something or someone. Although Fab’s relationship with his drums seems a little more abusive.
So enthralled by this ritual, you barely notice someone run past you, straight onto the stage, dressed entirely in black and swaying with slight intoxication. It thwacks you in the head when said personage steps up to the microphone and looks back at his fellow stage occupants before they launch into that Clash cover they’ve been playing lately.
Julian just touched you. Brushed past you, nearly knocked you over, whatever you want to call it.
It wasn’t as exciting as you imagined it was going to be.
But never mind, there’s still the show and afterwards, so you settle in to watch the boys do what they do best. But soon, you notice something that you’ll wish you hadn’t for quite some time afterwards.
About the third song in, Julian is staring fixedly at the front part of the crowd. He has all but stopped moving, and his glare looks like he could cut whoever it is he’s so fixated by in half like a laser. You follow the line of his vision down, until you spot the exact spot he’s glaring at.
He’s kissing a girl.
And not in a just-friends, peck on the cheek way, either.
Right. He’s a grown man, quite entitled to kiss whoever he wants. Maybe Julian’s just angry because he had his eye on that girl, and that Courtney got there first.
This explanation works, except for what you notice when you look closer.
Courtney isn’t watching the girl.
He’s looking straight at Julian, and you can’t believe it at first, but the look he’s giving Julian is definitely a triumphant, smug sneer, which doesn’t include his mouth (already occupied, obviously).
A “take that” glare.
The vengeful, mocking stare of the jilted, hurt lover.
That’s the only way you can describe it. You suddenly see exactly what this visual battle of dark, sparkling eyes is about; revenge.
Which means…that your disclaimer quite clearly wasn’t necessary. All your writing…it’s true. Except it seems there’s been an extra scene you weren’t privy to. Somewhere along the line, someone seems to have added a fight scene to your romantic masterpiece, and it’s ended badly.
The rest of the show is a blur of skittery guitar, train track solid drumming and Julian’s deep, crooning voice, which has now, somehow, taken on a new meaning of sorts, as he seems at times to be berating his cynical ex-whatever they considered themselves for whatever he did, and at times trying to cajole him into coming back to him, the little signs you pick up on that Julian obviously misses his former companion.
[At the beginning and at the end of love the two lovers are embarrassed to find themselves alone[iv] ]
And then, too suddenly for your liking, it’s over, and the band are saying goodnight, heading off the stage (they’re famous for the way they’ll never do an encore), walking straight back past you, and it’s then you notice, as Julian brushes past you, the overbright hint of tears about to spill from his eyes and the genuinely upset look spread quite clearly over his face. You wonder, feeling so incredibly sad for him, if his bandmates know, if they’ll try and comfort him in the way you would if one of your friends had just seen someone she loved pashing someone else…You very much doubt it.
Which is what pushes you to do it. You slip away from the others; in the direction Julian has just taken, back towards their dressing room. As you pass the main backstage entrance, the one that feeds from the main auditorium, you don’t count on ending up, bizarrely enough, Courtney down the corridor.
Or having to quickly hide when he irately knocks on the door labelled “THE STROKES” in large black texta letters, staring behind him uncomfortably as he waits, as if he’s worried someone will come and tell him off for being back here. When Julian answers the door, that exhausted, rattled look is still all over his face, and you can see Courtney actually looks slightly regretful at how tragic Julian really looks right now.
Julian sighs heavily. “Look, Court, I seriously can’t do this right now. The rest of the band’s in there, I’m so tired, and I don’t feel like having another huge bust-up over this.”
“I gotta ask, Julian…do you feel like anything anymore? Because it sure feels like nothing really ever matters to you these days.”
He seems to have struck a nerve there. Julian stiffens slightly, draws himself up to his full height, so he’s almost towering over Courtney in a sort of last-ditch intimidation attempt.
“Yes, Courtney, things matter to me. Like watching you try and get back at me by making out with random skanks in the crowd when you know I can’t say anything!”
The last part of the sentence is thundered out, and Julian punctuates it by pulling the door shut behind him with a loud *snap*. This seems to shock Courtney a little, that Julian could be that violent. However, he makes a swift comeback.
“Well, Julian, I wouldn’t have had anything to get back at you for if you hadn’t slept with her in the first place! Tell me, have you told Nick yet?”
Whoa, whoa, whoa…You want to back up a little here. Julian slept with Nick’s girlfriend?
Julian’s silence here is quite enough to answer that one.
“Thought so.” Courtney sounds resigned, a strange way for him to be after that angry outburst. “Are you ever going to, Jules? Because…if you don’t, she might. And Nick will never forgive you.”
Julian rubs his eyes wearily. “He won’t anyway. That’s why I haven’t told him. And she loves him too much to do that to him.”
“Would you have told me?”
The tension lies thick in the air; feeling like a blanket has been thrown over the area. You don’t dare breathe for fear they’ll hear you.
“You heard me. Would you have told me if I hadn’t caught you, quite literally speaking, with your pants down?”
“Court, that’s not fair…”
“Just fucking tell me, okay?! Would you have told me? Or would you just have pretended nothing had happened, go on lying to me, stay on your friggin’ high horse – “
“No, okay?! I wouldn’t have. Because you didn’t need to know. It was a mistake, and it would never and will never happen again. And you know why she’ll never tell Nick? Because he doesn’t need to know. If a little white lie was all I needed to keep you from getting hurt, I figured it was a safe bet.”
“That’s all I needed to know, Julian, really.” Courtney’s voice is quiet again; he sounds like he might be about to cry, and you suddenly realise that you don’t want to see this happening…you don’t want to see your ultimate couple breaking up, it’s like the walls of reality are crumbling, like having to wake up to a broken wine glass and a bad head the night after the most magical of parties. You want to creep back to Tabitha and the beautiful boy, go out and drink with them and Julian’s band mates, oblivious to the drama being played out here.
Unfortunately, you seem frozen to the spot.
What are you waiting for? Go back to your nice safe world where this sort of thing is only an idle nightmare!
That won’t get it out of my head…
Listen. You do physics, don’t you?
You look puzzled. What does this have to do with my physics class?
You’re right. Nothing. And everything. Remember that theory, that just by watching an object, you change it?
Vaguely. Physics isn’t my strong point.
At any rate, it’s true. If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to here it, does it make a sound, all that. And the same applies to what you’re watching right now as this emotional power struggle goes on. If you didn’t know it was happening, theoretically, it wouldn’t be, at least in your reality.
Great theory. The one flaw? I do know it’s happening. Even if I walked away, it would still be happening.
Not if I took you back to what led to this.
What, winning the competition?
No, not that far. Just enough…
[lovely girl you're the murder in my world
dressing coffins for the souls
I've left behind in time[vii] ]
…the gorgeous lead singer tells you how that was the largest gig they’ve ever played, and that it was also the most excited a crowd has ever got over them as an opening act. He seems like a little boy who has just been given a new puppy, or some sort of wonderful treat: shining eyes, huge, beaming grin, frenetically twitching feet. It’s endearing, you have to admit. And you’re not unhappy when he joins the two of you beside the stage for the next band, the Strokes’ touring openers. Because he’s beautiful; bright, laughing and intelligent, and you would truly love to have someone like him in your life permanently, and he’s not that much older than you, really…
You slip into easy conversation, and even though you feel dreadful for even thinking it, you seem to have a deeper connection with him than Tabitha does…you get what he’s babbling about, because you often feel the same way about music, life, whatever. And when he slips his arm around your waist, you don’t object, because right now, he could have put his hand down your top and you probably wouldn’t mind, because he’s so lovely.
You stay like that for the rest of the support bands set, and at the end of it, when they’re walking off, he tells them what a great job he thinks they did, then shyly leans over and kisses your cheek. This is so incredibly cute that you can’t help but lean closer to him, head on his shoulder, fitted into the crook of his neck like the pieces of a puzzle.
[last few months I’ve been living with this couple
you know, the kind who buy everything in doubles
they fit together like a puzzle
I love their love…[viii] ]
And then, unexpectedly, a singleted figure’s shoulder collides with yours as he strides purposefully past you, knocking you slightly away from your protector. Or it would have been his shoulder, had he not been over six foot tall – as it is, it’s more like his upper arm colliding with your shoulder.
“Sorry,” he mumbles, sounding very distracted. Without a pause, he continues his long, loping steps across to the edge of the stage, picks up a guitar from one of the racks and slings it round his neck with a sort of careless grace, then checks the tuning briefly before turning his back on the stage, pulling his cigarettes out of his pocket and lighting one up without removing the guitar from around his neck. Now that he’s facing you, this mysterious figure is easily recognisable as Albert’s opposite number, Nick Valensi. He looks suitably disinterested in the bustle and goings on around him, although he perks up somewhat when the rest of the band materialise next to him, and the four of them engage in a low discussion – wait, four? You look closer. You spot two afros, Nick’s greasy dark brown locks and a head of neatly brushed light brown hair…none of them seem concerned about the absence of their frontman, and simply pick up their instruments then walk out onto the stage to face the wall of screams and applause that greets their appearance.
A wave to the crowd from each them, and they quickly check their instruments in the way you’ve just watched Nick messing around with his; with a sort of love that only comes when someone is deeply involved with something or someone. Even Fab’s drums seems to get this sort of treatment, except his seems to be a more abusive relationship than the one the others have with their instruments.
So enthralled by this strangely compelling ritual, you barely notice someone run past you, straight onto the stage, dressed entirely in black and swaying slightly from intoxication. It thwacks you in the head when said personage steps up to the microphone and looks back at his fellow stage occupants before they launch into that Clash cover they’ve been playing lately.
Julian just touched you. Brushed past you, nearly knocked you over, whatever you want to call it.
It wasn’t as exciting as you imagined it was going to be, but maybe that’s because you’re enchanted by this adorable little boy who wants to hug you and possibly more if you want to…he’s distracting you. But he doesn’t distract you entirely from the show onstage; you’re amazed by the incredibly tightness they display as a band, more than anything. You expected a more messy, all-over-the-place performance, but they sound almost like you’re listening to the record, remarkably. Julian is a little more slurred than he sounds in recorded form, but that could be because he’s a bit drunken, and he looks like the reason for this state could be a need to drown the sorrow residing in his eyes in a sea of alcoholic depths.
But after the shows over, you see a slight glimmer of what could even be tears in Julian’s eyes as he walks off the stage, looking slumped and dejected, and you know the alcoholic haze hasn’t hidden whatever it is that’s weighing on him successfully enough. But you suspect someone will comfort him, feed him some more Jack Daniels, and all will be right in his world again.
However, as you, Tabitha and your burgeoning boyfriend of sorts walk into the after party (a posh bar of sorts that seems to have been booked out especially for the band and their guests), you don’t see Julian anywhere. After two or three drinks, you feel your inhibitions lower enough to let the new attachment to your hip lead you over to have a chat with some of the boys, and you find that you actually have a reasonable conversation with them. You mention some books you’ve read to Nikolai, and he seems excited you’ve even heard of them, led alone read and enjoyed them, which draws the two of you into a deep discussion about it. Then the beautiful boy tells Nick and Albert you play guitar, and they both pounce on you, asking what guitar you use, how long you’ve been playing, what style you play, everything you could possibly imagine. Some of it is a little too technical for you to understand, but they seem okay with your ignorance over string tension, and you feel less like an imbecile than you thought you would.
Over Nicks shoulder, you suddenly spot the real discussion you wanted to have sitting at the bar, staring gloomily into his drink. Something is so incredibly sad about Julian at the moment; like a dog whose master had abandoned him for a long period of time, or possibly like a discarded toy…or a betrayed lover. That was it; he looked like someone who’d had their heart ripped out and handed to them with a goodbye note.
Something, you realise, is niggling at you. A twinge of something, possibly why Julian looks so depressed. You’re not sure exactly what it is, but you decide that any comfort’s better than none, right? So you pull away from the beautiful boys embrace, tell him you’ll be right back, then go over to him, put your hand on his shoulder.
“It’ll be alright. He still loves you.”
You suddenly realise what you’ve said, and wonder why. Has the fanfiction gotten to you that strongly that you actually think he and Court are dating? It’s a little mortifying to think that you’ve just said something that embarrassing.
Julian jumps slightly. “Huh?”
“Erm…nothing. Just…whatever it is, it’ll be ok. He…She …whoever they are, they still love you, I can feel it.”
He looks at you strangely for a moment, but then a sudden calm, peaceful looks falls over his face, as if what you’ve said had tremendous weight on his state of mind.
“Yeah…I guess it might.”
[i] NYC, Interpol (Paul Banks)
[ii] The Boy Looked At Johnny, The Libertines (Carl Barat)
[iii] These Wooden Ideas, Idlewild (Roddy Ponter)
[iv] Not That Social, the Von Bondies (Jason Stollenheimer)
[v] La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh), Manic Street Preachers (Nicky Wire/Richey James)
[vi] Les Caracteres, La Bruyere
[vii] Ava Adora, the Smashing Pumpkins (Billy Corgan)
[viii] Waste Of Paint, Bright Eyes (Conor Oberst)
(if the coding on this is fucked up...oh GOD. it was excruciatingly fiddly.)
(it was. twice. let's hope third time lucky, yeah?)
AND, bringin' this journal back to the very few people who actually see it, it's becoming un-friends only again. TELL YOUR FRIENDS!