Punk Rock and Blue Jeans
by Casey Valhalla
"I should think that if people were to get the wrong impression of me, the one to which you so eloquently refer, it wouldn’t be the wrong impression in the slightest."
--Brian Slade, from Velvet Goldmine
"Any preoccupation with ideas of what is right or wrong in conduct shows an arrested intellectual development."
Corduroys. Wrinkled. No.
White t-shirt. Small stain on the left shoulder. No.
Dark blue-button down polyester. Smells like… how did that happen? No.
Shorts, no… laundry day shirt, the one with little smiley stars and the remains of some silk-screened phrase that was probably positive and inspirational at some point. Where the hell did I get this? No.
"Heero, what the hell are you doing?"
The voice behind me was muffled and annoyed. I turned away from my wardrobe to see Quatre standing with his arms folded, the t-shirt I had just tossed over my shoulder draped over his head. I chuckled nervously and tugged a corner of the fabric up to peer at one of his brilliant – and currently glaring – blue-green eyes.
"Cleaning out my closet?" I offered.
"You’re making a mess." He plucked the shirt off his head and tossed it into the growing pile against the wall. "If I were you, I’d chuck everything off to Goodwill and start fresh."
I raised an eyebrow at him. "What’s wrong with my clothes?"
He stepped back and looked me over with a frown, cradling his elbow in one hand, the other hand rubbing his chin. He was wearing a pair of dark gray slacks, form-fitting but not tight, and a crisp white dress shirt, untucked, all but three buttons undone. Thus, the collar displayed a good portion of a pale, creamy neckline, and a triangle at his waist offered the barest of peeks at his navel.
I wonder often if Quatre knows just how gorgeous he is.
He eyed my jeans-shirt-and-flannel ensemble with distaste. "It’s just so… nineties."
"Welcome to Generation X, Winner," I snorted.
Quatre shook his head. "That’s no excuse, Heero, and you know it." He abruptly dropped his arms and crossed the small room to his desk. "Why the sudden interest, anyhow?"
I shrugged. "I need something to wear tonight."
He cast me a puzzled look and slid into his chair, flicking the stereo on with an idle gesture. "Since when do you care what you’re wearing to a show?"
"I have a date."
Quatre’s hand hovered over the CD controls. His eyes widened a fraction. "With who?"
"But he’s…" Quatre’s hand faltered, then he sighed and pressed the play button. "Oh," he said, a knowing tone in his voice. "I see." Radiohead started playing. He called it his ‘study music.’ There’s no accounting for his odd tastes.
"That’s what Trowa’s been laughing about all week. I’m going too, by the way. He invited me."
I snickered. "That so?"
He shot me a glare before turning his attention to the pile of textbooks in front of him. "I have no idea *what* you’re insinuating, Yuy."
"At least give me some advice."
He canted his head in my direction and gave me another appraising look, then looked back down at his Chemistry notes. "The jeans are fine, but wear that nice black t-shirt, if it’s clean. Lose the flannel. Wear your denim jacket instead."
I nodded and dove back into the wardrobe, digging for the shirt. "What are you going to wear?"
"It doesn’t matter," he snorted. "I’m not the one on a date."
That’s what *you* think, I thought, and stifled a laugh.
After the pool game the weekend before – and the kiss afterwards, God I still melt every time I think about that – Duo stopped avoiding me. We started eating breakfast together in the Quad cafeteria, both of us having early classes. He talked to me, hesitantly at first, then with more gusto as the week progressed. He kept himself at arm’s length, which was fine; the chase wouldn’t be nearly as fun if he gave in this early in the game. He got skittish whenever the conversation turned to a more personal topic, that being whatever our relationship (or lack thereof) was turning into, and twice had all but fled the table muttering garbled excuses about being late or forgetting his homework.
Duo was unbelievably cute when he was flustered.
He had been particularly nervous at breakfast that morning, but doggedly stuck around and left with me. We walked across campus to the science building together, and I left him there with a light touch on his cheek and a promise to pick him up at six.
It was 5:55, and my stomach was in knots by the time I knocked on the door to his room. Hey, just because I have more experience than him at being not-so-straight doesn’t mean I don’t get butterflies. I really liked the guy, after all.
The door burst open, the posters pinned to either side of it fluttering with the movement. And there he stood, in black jeans and a tight white tank top, barefoot, with a green toothbrush sticking out of his mouth. His hair was loose, cascading down his back in waves, a few strands hanging down the sides of his face. Purple eyes widened as he took in my presence.
"You’re early," he commented, the toothbrush rattling against his teeth.
Remember that I mentioned how cute Duo was when he’s flustered? Add being rumpled, half-dressed and caught off guard, and he’s downright sexy.
I checked my watch. "Five minutes."
"Can you give me ten?" His mouth twitched a little, in a sensitive smile that made me want to grab him and kiss him soundly, toothbrush and all.
"Sure. Can I come in?"
He stepped aside to let me through, waving at the little couch against the right wall, and disappeared into the bathroom.
Sitting, I took the opportunity to look around. I’d only visited Duo’s dorm room a few times, and every time it seemed to change slightly. The furniture arrangement was different than the last time I was here; the bunks had been pushed against the left wall, with the desks on either side of the windows. Stacks of CD’s and recording equipment still took over most of Duo’s desk space that wasn’t already occupied by his computer. A few new posters adorned the walls, mostly indie band concert flyers. I don’t know where he gets them all, and I don’t recognize half the names. One in particular caught my eye, a shiny rectangle centered over his desk, in two-toned red and black. Belle and Sebasitan. What do you know, someone I’ve heard of.
"Ready." I heard the voice at the same time I heard the bathroom door click shut, and turned.
He had changed into a sleek black shirt, the top two buttons undone, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His hair was pulled back, a French braid starting at the back of his head and ending just below his shoulders, leaving the rest of his hair trailing loose behind him. He shuffled a bit, kicking the heels of his combat boots against the linoleum floor. He ducked his head and gazed at me shyly through his lashes. "How do I look?"
Good enough to eat, I thought, and briefly considered the possibility of staying in tonight. I managed to simply smile, and said, "Fantastic."
I was rewarded with a brilliant grin. "Let’s go, then." He spun on his heel and grabbed his bomber jacket out of the wardrobe, and paused suddenly. "We’re not riding with Wufei, are we?"
"No, I rather prefer the thought of living through the night," I replied, ushering him out the door with a hand on the small of his back. "We’ll take the bus."
The Show-Off is an independent all-ages venue run by some local kids, located in a small warehouse downtown. Their Friday night offerings usually consist of a number of local bands, fitting within a genre, and run for hours on end. The crowning glory of that night’s show would be Old Rawler, a punk band, who were either breaking up or leaving town, I don’t remember which. Duo was somewhat familiar with the local music scene, and rambled on about what he knew while we walked the ten blocks from the bus station to the warehouse.
The lights were still on inside, and a few people milled about, most of them part of the team that ran the place, shouting instructions to each other or carrying equipment to the small dais that served as a stage. A tiny girl with black hair stopped us at the door, and I pulled out my wallet. Duo started digging through his pockets, and I stopped him with a hand on his arm. "Don’t worry about it, I’ll cover."
He smiled, a nervous expression. "You don’t—"
"Don’t worry about it," I repeated, and he shrugged in what I was sure he meant to be a casual gesture of acceptance, but looked more like a strained admission of defeat. I handed the girl a ten, and she stamped both our hands before turning to a new arrival.
I hung our coats in the closet and followed Duo into the warehouse, and nudged his shoulder playfully. "I’m the one who asked *you* out," I commented.
He shrugged and dropped his chin to look up at me through his bangs. "I’m just—"
"—used to being the one in charge?" I finished. He laughed a little, tightly, and I frowned. He needed to loosen up, but I couldn’t think of a way to coax him into doing so. Then he stopped, frozen, gazing across the spacious room to the stage.
A ten-piece drum kit was being set up by one of the Show-Off’s team members, a friend of mine. It was a nice set, newer, the blue enameled shells reflecting the fluorescent lights. The expression on Duo’s face was one of pure awe.
"You like that?" I asked, grasping on to a subject that might distract him from the first-date jitters. "Josh just bought it a week ago. Come on, I’ll introduce you."
The young man in question was adjusting the cymbals when I stepped up to the stage. He had that typical indie-rock-boy look about him, with dyed black hair and a pair of horn-rimmed glasses perched on his nose. He looked up from his work with a smile. "Oh, hey, Heero."
"Josh," I nodded. "The kit looks great."
The smile turned into a grin. "She’s gorgeous, isn’t she?"
Duo piped up from behind me. "That’s a Pearl set, isn’t it?"
Josh nodded. "Yep, only slightly used."
"Are you ever going to admit how much it cost you?" I quipped. Duo moved to my side, rocking on his heels eagerly.
Josh noted his look and held up a pair of drumsticks. "You play?"
Duo nodded, eyes widening in pleasure. I groaned. "Sorry, I’m being rude. Josh, this is Duo. Duo, Josh."
"Rudeness forgiven," the musician replied, shaking Duo’s hand. "Give it a shot, Duo. Just be nice to my baby."
Duo accepted the drumsticks and sat down in the stool, running his fingers over the silver rims of the drums lovingly. I hung back and watched. I didn’t even know Duo could play the drums. Props to me for being non-observant.
"I miss my drums," the long-haired boy stated abruptly. "Couldn’t bring them with me, you know. Not enough space for them in the dorms, not to mention the noise ordinances."
Josh sat on the stage and picked up a guitar, settling it in his lap, nodding in agreement. "Get some friends together and get a house next year," he suggested, tuning the instrument deftly. "Makes things easier."
Then Duo started playing.
I don’t know how to describe it. He played with a controlled fervor, his arms flowing quickly from one beat to the next, one foot tapping a rhythm on the pedal for the bass drum. Every movement was graceful, calculated, and I couldn’t help staring at the way the material of his shirt slid over his muscles. The sounds he coaxed out of the drum kit shouldn’t have been possible for a set of percussion instruments, but the rolling, pulsating beat came forth nevertheless, and he nodded his head in time to the rhythm.
It was fascinating.
He came to a halt with a ringing clatter of cymbals, and looked down at Josh with a grin. Then he looked up at me, and the grin turned into a slow, pleasant smile, his purple eyes softening into a gentle look. The butterflies in my stomach started beating their wings madly.
Josh glanced up then, a decidedly evil expression crossing his face. He reached to the side and lifted up a microphone, dangling it in his fingers. He cocked an eyebrow at me, questioning.
I took a step back, raising both hands in front of me. "*Oh* no, I am *not* singing."
The musician grinned devilishly. "You know you want to."
Duo blinked, twirling a drumstick in his hand. "Heero, you can sing?"
Josh nodded emphatically. "Like a friggin’ nightingale. Come on, Heero," he chided, waving the mic at me. "I’m not letting you sit this one out."
I shifted from foot to foot, eyeing the mic warily, then looked up at Duo’s imploring expression. I gave in.
I sat down between Josh and the drum kit, legs stretched out in front of me, at a good angle to watch Duo during the impromptu jam session. Josh immediately launched into a Green Day song, and the drummer eagerly joined in.
"I heard you crying loud, all the way across town – you’ve been searching for that someone and it’s me out on the prowl, and you sit around feeling sorry for yourself—"
Duo’s eyes left the drums in front of him for a split second, darting a glance at me. He was smiling just a little, a shy but delighted look. Warmth spread through my chest, and a funny grin twitched the corners of my mouth.
One look, and I was falling.
"Don’t get lonely now, and dry your whining eyes – I’m just roaming for the moment sleazin’ my back yard so don’t get… uptight, you been thinking about ditching me—"
Josh joined in for the chorus, and I heard another voice crooning with the melody. I realized it was Duo, almost overwhelmed by the drums in front of him, but he was singing furiously, still darting little glances at me.
"No time to search the world around, cause you know where I’ll be found – when I come around…" Belatedly I discovered we had an audience. All the team members and lingering patrons in the room had stopped where they were and watched, singing along with the last line of the chorus. "When I come around…"
Duo chuckled a little, and I grinned sheepishly. I hated being in the spotlight, even for a small group, most of whom I knew.
But for him… yes, I think I’d bear any social discomfort that came my way. And anything else, for that matter.
The concert was in full swing, the lights dimmed and the warehouse filled to capacity. Trowa and Quatre had arrived, and I could barely see them sitting on one of the old couches against the far wall. Wufei and Meiran were there too, but I had lost them in the crowd a long time ago.
Duo and I were ensconced in a sea of bodies in front of the stage. The second band had just started, and the room was twice as full as when the show began. We stuck close to each other, but not quite close enough to touch. The second band proved to be more torrid than the first, and the crowd around us was already writhing and swaying in time to the raucous beat. I slipped an arm around Duo’s waist, pulling him against me. "Better stay here," I said in his ear, so he could hear me above the music. "I don’t want you to get lost."
He stiffened suddenly, and edged away, mumbling something. I ducked my head to catch whatever he was saying. "What?"
He leaned in slightly. "Heero… there are people here… watching…"
Duo’s voice trailed off and I frowned. Not good. If he was getting skittish now… I smiled suddenly, a thought occurring, and tapped his chin with one finger. "Look around. Who’s watching?"
He looked at me questioningly, then lifted his head, scanning the crowd. Everyone within sight was either dancing, or staring at the band with rapt expressions. No one was looking at us. He turned back to me, wondering and a little perplexed. "I’m sorry, Heero, I just—"
"I know." I placed a brief, chaste kiss on his forehead, and wrapped both arms around him, pulling him tight to my side. He sighed a little, and my pulse leapt with delight when he settled his head on my shoulder.
Nevertheless, we needed to talk.
I pulled Duo outside during intermission, along with a throng of other smokers who needed a fix after two hours of music. He stopped to light a cigarette, and I continued pulling, which resulted in an odd display of myself dragging him by the elbow while he juggled with a lighter and backpedaled in my wake.
Once we were around the side of the building and away from prying eyes and ears, I relaxed and let him go. He leaned against the plaster wall, taking a long drag and looking at me questioningly. I shoved my hands in my pockets and stared at the ground, kicking a pebble to the side. "About what happened in there…"
Duo shrugged deeper into his jacket and fiddled with the cigarette in his hand. "I’m just not used to… You know." He waved at the air between the two of us. "This."
"Yeah," I said, and gazed at him through my bangs. His expression was downcast, and he shifted nervously against the wall. I took a deep breath. "Look, I understand. I really do. But…" I stepped closer, just by a fraction, and met his eyes. "If you’re going to be with me, I need you to be *with* me. I can’t hide, Duo, it’s not my style. And it’s stressful as hell."
He smiled a little, his eyes almost black in the darkness and glimmering under the streetlights. "Speaking from experience?"
I nodded and moved a little closer, lifting my hands to rest on his hips underneath his jacket. "It wasn’t fun, and I have no desire at all to do it again." I leaned my forehead against his and felt his palms settle on my chest, just below my shoulders. I don’t know what happened to his cigarette. "Besides, if you’re mine, I want everyone to know it."
He grinned, shyly, and I barely caught his gaze flickering from my eyes to my lips and back. That was an open invitation, and I took it.
The kiss started slow, a lingering meeting of lips, but then he tilted his head back and opened his mouth. His tongue prodded at my teeth, and I accepted that invitation as well, deepening the kiss as he slid his hands up over the back of my neck, into my hair, shivering trails of goosebumps in their wake. God, his mouth was intoxicating…
I slipped my hands under the hem of his shirt, trailing my fingers over the soft skin I found there. He moaned a little into the kiss, his hands tightening in my hair. Some unmentionable parts of my anatomy flared to life at the sound, and I pressed against him, pulling his hips in against mine, my skin heating at the contact. He whimpered and writhed, pushing back against me in what might have been a reflex, or what might have been the same need that threatened to overwhelm me, too.
Christ in heaven, I wanted him. But not tonight, not now. It was too soon, and the game wasn’t over yet. I broke away from the kiss, retreating a fraction, gasping for air.
Duo was looking at me, his eyes glazed with passion, but round and shining. He was scared, his expression slack. I lifted a hand to cup his face, brushing my thumb over his cheek gently. "Want to go back inside?"
He let out a long breath and slumped a bit, and hurriedly pulled his jacket closed when I backed away. I stifled a laugh and asked dryly, "Hiding something?"
I detected a hint of a blush in the darkness. He narrowed his eyes and grinned, the expression dark but playful. "Maybe." His gaze traveled over me, and I felt a flush rising to my neck. He chuckled. "You might want to do the same."
I growled and lunged at him. He darted away, laughing. "You said you were going to chase me, Heero," he called over his shoulder. "Catch me if you can!"
The fourth set was a cover band, a good deal mellower than the previous three. I’d talked to Trowa during intermission, in between my attempts to tackle Duo – who is damn fast, by the way. Apparently Quatre wanted to leave early, and Trowa, of course, intended to go with him. Heh, wonder why. He offered an invitation for my date and I to join them for coffee at the Horseshoe if we decided to do the same.
I considered that option as the band leader struck a chord on his guitar and leaned in to the microphone. "This is a love song," the young musician grinned at the crowd. "Because we like love. It’s a good thing, you know. So grab whoever it is you love and show ‘em a little sugar, huh?"
The mass of people cheered, and the guitar started up a lilting tune, one I recognized. Duo was standing in front of me, and looked over his shoulder as I came up behind him, twining my arms around his waist. I whispered into his ear. "Dance with me?"
"Anytime," he laughed, leaning back against me. He closed his eyes, his head tilted just slightly towards mine.
The singer’s voice was low and a little raspy, but it suited the song perfectly. "So close no matter how far, couldn’t be much more from the heart – forever trusting who we are, and nothing else matters…"
I ducked my head and buried my face in his shoulder, nuzzling his neck. He smelled nice, warm, like cinnamon and musk. I tightened my arms around him, and his hands came up to rest on mine, tangling our fingers together. You know how people always say they wish this moment could last forever? Yeah. It was one of those. I closed my eyes and everything vanished, it was just me, Duo, and the song.
I started singing along, almost unconsciously, rocking us back and forth in time with the music. "Never opened myself this way, life is ours, we live it our way… all these words I don’t just say, and nothing else matters…"
He shifted slightly, resting his head against mine, and sighed, relaxing completely in my arms. I smiled to myself, planting a light kiss on his shoulder, through the sleek fabric of his shirt. If I could get him to let go like this, all the time, then everything would work out perfectly.
"Trust I seek and I find in you, every day for us something new – open mind for a different view, and nothing else matters…"
A thought struck me, at that moment. I was in love. Madly, completely in love.
It was the best and worst feeling of my entire life.
/ so close no matter how far
couldn’t be much more from the heart
forever trusting who we are
no nothing else matters… /