Curt wakes sometime during the night to find Brian out of bed, moving about the room like shadows and smoke. He tries to ask him what he's doing, tries to tell him to come back to bed, but Brian doesn't seem to hear.
"Your problem is that you think magic just happens. That all th--"
Curt scoffs. "I've got a lot more problems than that."
"That all this glamor," Brian continues, "And beauty and sparkle... that it just comes into being from nothing. But it's work."
"Work's not exactly what I'm best at." He scrunches his nose. "It smells like a hospital."
Brian runs his hand over Curt's newly-blond hair. "That'll go away in a few washes."
"So," Curt tilts his head slightly to lean into Brian's hand. "Do you like me better this way?"
Brian drops his hand in his lap. There's faint music coming from somewhere, downstairs or outside the window. "I like you any sort of way."
Curt nods and pulls out a cigarette. He lights it. After a few drags, he says, "I fucking hate hospitals."
"It's all true," Curt whispers. Brian looks at him under heavy-lidded eyes, not comprehending. How long have they been here, in this room a thousand miles away and just down the hall from all of their friends? "Everything you've heard about me. It's true."
Brian smirks. His lips are swollen from kissing. They've been making out like teenagers, and Curt hasn't even taken off his pants yet. "Even the contradictions?"
"Good. Those are my favorite parts." Brian leans up to kiss him again. He craves the taste of alcohol and smoke and the animal underneath it, but Curt tilts his head away.
"No, I mean it. My head's all messed up, and now that I'm not using, it's starting to wake up again. And I don't know if this thing with you is gonna quiet it back down or set it all on fire."
Brian watches him for a moment, then pushes him onto his back to crawl on top of him. "I think when they electrocuted you, they made you lightning." He reaches down to unfasten Curt's pants. As he moves down his body, he murmurs, "Let it burn."
Brian is ghosting around the room in the night, and Curt watches him. He passes in front of the window, his slender silhouette gliding over the dim streetlights, and for a moment he doesn't look like Brian at all.
In the morning, Curt asks him what he was doing out of bed, but Brian says "I didn't" and Curt doesn't ask again.
The room smells sweet with fig and rosemary scented candles that Brian had specially delivered because something something--Brian had told him the story but he doesn't remember it now. Something to do with Mandy, he thinks. He's sprawled out on the bed smoking and still holding an empty bottle of wine. He imagines drowning in the stuff like Hendrix. Drowning in wine with the scent of fig and rosemary, and Brian hunched over his guitar on the edge of the bed picking out a melody Curt's heard him humming for the past few days.
He runs a hand through his hair, then pulls a few strands up over his face to remind himself it's blond now. He lets it fall over his eyes so he can look through it up at the ceiling.
"Didn't this used to be fun?"
It takes a moment before Curt registers that Brian's said something, then another to remember what the words had been. He props himself up on his elbows, letting his cigarette dangle from his lips. "Fun? What was fun?"
Brian doesn't turn to face him, just keeps picking at the guitar strings. The song sounds familiar, now that he's actually paying attention.
Curt sticks his cigarette in the empty wine bottle and sits up behind Brian. He leans his chin on his shoulder, but Brian shrugs him off.
"What the fuck's wrong with you?"
"There's no point in talking about it now. You're drunk." Then, more quietly, he adds, "You're always drunk."
Curt blinks at him. "Yeah? Says the guy who's getting nosebleeds everyday because he can't stop packing his nose with powder. Since when do you give a shit if I have a drink?"
"I don't. I don't." Brian sighs and stands up to set the guitar in the corner. He doesn't sit back on the bed, but goes to the armchair by the window. He stares out at something, leaning his head on his fingertips like a bed of nails.
Curt can't stand it. He can't sit and watch Brian being upset. It makes something inside him twist, like when his parents used to scream at each other about him, like panic rising up in his throat. He goes to him and sits at his feet, resting his head on his knee. "What do you want me to do?"
One of the candles is flickering on the end table next to them, and light and shadow dance over Brian's face as he looks down at Brian. He touches Curt's hair. "Nothing. Everything. I just can't write. I try, and it's like groping around in the dark for something that might not even be there."
"What about that thing you were just playing?"
Brian blinks down at him, then smiles vaguely. "That wasn't my song. That was the first song I heard you perform. T.V. Eye."
"Oh." Curt furrows his brow. "I never heard anybody play it like that before."
"I guess not." Brian looks back up at the window, but he's still petting Curt's hair. Curt closes his eyes and takes a deep breath of sweet fig and Brian. He slides his cheek down Brian's thigh and nuzzles between his legs. Brian shifts his weight forward, slumping low in the chair and leaning his head back.
Curt watches the plane of his chest rise and fall and his larynx bob with each moan and swallow, and he hums softly.
They are in bed far later in the day than any two respectable men, and Brian has the sheets pulled up over the two of them as if the world outside will stop for them as long as they hide from it, and he says:
"The first time I saw you, you were on stage. Covered in sweat and glitter and hopping around naked, and I knew. I knew someone like you could change the world. And I knew that you didn't know it yet. And I was so afraid that you would find out how before I did. That's why I had to meet you. So we could take the world in our hands and mold it into something different. Something better. Something alive."
Curt smiles, but his brow is furrowed. "I don't know why you think I can do that."
"You're electricity. Light and energy and danger."
"What if that's not me? What if I'm just fireworks in the clouds and you thought it was lightning?"
Brian's eyes are a sliver of color around huge black pupils, and he runs his fingers through Curt's hair. "I think we need to make you a blond."
Curt spends the night up on a roof after a gig with a fan, and there's nothing special about it, except this fan has such bright and hopeful eyes. Curt swears that he's seen eyes like that before.
I think your music is tops.
"I used to look at pictures of you and--" the fan says. His eyes are huge and dilated from whatever it was he said he took, Curt doesn't remember. In the magazines. I used to look at pictures of you."
Curt smiles to humor him. "What did you think of me then?"
He laughs nervously. "Oh, um. I don't know. You didn't seem real."
"Let me tell you a secret." Curt leans in close to his ear. "I'm not."
Curt sees Brian's shadow against the window, glinting blue and white like glitter or scales. His shape twists and shifts like sheets in the wind. Curt strains his eyes, trying to make out familiar features, but it's too dark.
In the morning he remembers that Brian isn't there. Brian hasn't been there for years now. He sits up in bed and rubs his face, and a strand of hair falls into his vision. Blond. It's always blond now.
He pushes it back and gets out of bed. He'll have to bleach it again soon; the roots are starting to show.