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Something to Care About

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+++

The first thing Yul does, once his plane lands, is go to Buckingham Palace. 10 hours on a plane, another hour figuring out the underground (plus 20 years of wanting) and he's standing across from the big house whose picture he'd kept in his pocket since he was a boy scraping by in Tivoli Gardens. His arrival is so early in the day that the sky is still purple and dark, the air, wet and wispy, so he stands across from the palace, a golden statue with tall reaching wings tall at his back, and watches.

The sun comes up bit by bit and the people fill the square to look at the house too, snapping pictures of it, the guards in their furry hats, the statue just behind Yul. The higher the sun rises the more the palace gleams, the light bouncing off the white stone walls and the gold-tipped fence.

Taking it all in, Yul feels immensely satisfied. Not the satisfaction of a large meal and a full belly but the satisfaction of running so hard his legs ached, of getting down the hill in under 6 seconds, of successfully finding his seat in the sled. The satisfaction of him, Yul Brenner, Olympic bobsledder, out of the yard, money in hand, looking at the Buckingham Palace (and it's not quite living there but its close enough). Him getting what he wants.

But then, he thinks of Junior, of him promising that if Yul had wanted something bad enough, he'll get it. But thinking of Junior makes that satisfied feeling go away leaving him with only the dull ache of wanting.

Because Junior was wrong. Yul always had known what he wanted but wanting it badly enough did not fill his hands; it only leaves him empty and lacking.

He walks away and doesn't give the palace a backward glance.

--

London is lousy with people selling garbage, it's like being back in the Corrie with the higglers yelling about their wares, and Yul can get anything, -magnets, cups, shirts, cricket bats, baby shoes- with the Union Jack or the Queen's face on them. He finds among this trash a set of five postcards that unfold in a line with serrated edges to tear them apart. The top one is the replica of that crumpled picture (that Junior had tried to smoothed flat) that Yul still has tucked in the bottom of his duffel bag.

He buys the postcards, rips off the first one, (Buckingham Palace gleaming gold in the sun), and thinks of Junior again, his sincerity in the face of Sanka laughing at Yul, his fingers smoothing a crumpled picture, his eyes wide and soft as snow fell around them.

Yul taps a pen against the cardboard unable to think of anything to say because he's left Junior 10 hours and 7000 km behind him in the Yard, or more honestly Yul left him on a freezing Canadian night tasting of terrible coffee and Yul has no idea what to say about that.

Finally, he scribbles out:

Junior,

Found my palace

-Yul

In another shop, he buys a stamp and a paper cup of tea and rereads his one line as he drinks. He should say more, say better.

Say sorry.

He hadn't said goodbye and he'd like to regret that, but Junior might have been enough for Yul to stay on the island which was a dangerous enough reason to leave.

He shoves the postcard into the post box and walks away once more.

++

The crash is a blur. Yul can't see anything of the track from his position and it takes long, too long, to realize the jolt and the pain in his side is from his own body crushing him into the side of the sled, that they have tipped over and are careening, out of control down the track.

And it's that, a jolt, pain, blind panic that has Yul curling forward, reaching out for Junior in front of him in the world narrowing to the screech of metal, an acid burning smell, Junior's back against Yul's knees, his hips under Yul's fingertips and Yul fights against the centrifuge force that tries to pull him backwards and away from the man in front of him.

They stop finally (they've either been crashing for a second or forever) Yul's side feel like ground meat, and he's plastered tightly to Junior's back in a way Sanka is very much not plastered to his. And Derice and Sanka are alive at least, and Derice is saying they must finish the race and Junior hasn't said anything-

"Junior?" Yul asks in a rasp unable to open his clenched hands "Y' alright?"

It’s too long of a pause without an answer, his heart clenches inside him, terror that Junior is not alright, that he has been bashed open against the ice, and that Yul has lost something that he hadn't known he had.

Yul is about to ask again with more desperation when he hears, "I'm here. And you?"

Yul doesn't answer just lets out the breath he'd been holding waiting for confirmation that Junior was alive. He hadn't realized how important Junior was. Somewhere between wanting to murder the idiot mama's boy who'd cost him his dreams and this moment, somewhere tied up with Junior tenderly uncrumpling Yul's picture and Yul seeing red when a fool in a bar pushes Junior over he'd become something for Yul to care about.

That is maybe more terrifying than the crash.

++

Yule ends up in South London with the rest of the Caribbeans living in London because it's impossible, it seems, to truly escape the island.

Yul's not a friendly man and people tend to see his face and keep their distance. Usually that it. One of his neighbors, Miss Vea, who's been living in England since the 60s takes it upon herself to try and make Yul's business her business, asking bluntly why she never sees him at church when she sees him in the stairwell, then getting him to carry her groceries up four flights of stairs. But she also comes by some evenings and gives him pots of oxtails simmered with scotch bonnets or plates of beef patties so it evens out.

Jamaicans are also the only people in all of England who knows or care that Yul was in the Olympics.  Being famous, even with only Jamaicans, helps. Yul had figured he'd end up working the docks but then one of the men who know of Yul and lives on the block, name of Linford, says he knows a man with a job. Yul doesn't know Linford from Adam and is careful of anyone calling him or themselves yardies (cause he's not gonna get caught in that gangster shit) but Linford is a cousin of an uncle of a brother of a dock worker Yul knows back in Kingston and the man swears the jobs on the up and up, a bouncer gig, that’s Yul’s if he can stomach the chi chi shit that can go on at English clubs.

Being a club bouncer is an easy job when the job is to be big and intimidating; Yul's resting face has looked fight ready since he was a boy and men are, as a rule, are scared of him (except for perhaps idiot rastas with no sense in their heads) and all he has to do is let in people who've paid the cover in, look scary, and kick out any troublemakers.

It's less a club and more of a dance party, set up for one night only, with pink smoke and fools sharing pills and awful throbbing music. The unspecified part of Yul's job is to let in more attractive women then he lets in men (he picks women with the largest hair and richest looking clothes, Lutz the east German he works with says Yul has good taste).

The chi chi shit Linford mentioned is…yeah, it's there and it's the real deal like nothing he’s seen before. When the parties take place in the more northern end of the city they get groups of them, women with buzz cuts, men with moustaches, real enough that Yul keeps his face stone and tries to not look interested and keeps his distance from people like that.

At least he avoids it until a fight breaks one dance night and Yul ends up taking a man outside and that man, leather jacket, safety pin, tight red pants, black lined eyes -definitely- is. They aren't subtle in London, nothing is subtle at all in London.

The man is not even concerned about Yul pushing him out the side door into the alley empty save for a collection of bins. Or, he is concerned, (he's squawking, "3 quid for a drink, that cow should be thrown out not me! You're all fucking fascists!") but the worry is not that Yul is going to beat him to death. Yul gives him a shove, harder then necessary annoyed at the lack of self-preservation (even if you won't get 10 years hard labour running around being so obvious makes his skin crawl).

"Go home."

The guy does not take this polite suggestion from Yul and instead crowds himself into Yul's space up on his toes so he can yell in his face. "You fascist Thatcher loving fascist!"

"Fuck Margret Thatcher!" Yul glares, “Get out of here before I make you.”

"Yeah, fuck that milk snatcher!” The man calms at that.

 "Party's over. Get going mon."

"The party doesn't have to be over, right?" he asks getting too close splaying a hand over Yul's chest. On his face is a conspiratorial smirk and he just keeps moving closer because instead of shoving the man away (which is the safe move; punching is even safer) Yul had glanced around making sure they were alone.

Why would he look around if he hadn't considered the offer?

--

After the guy tries to give Yul his number but Yul ignores that and walks back into the party back to work unsettled. The sex was fine and it's not the first time he's ending up in a dirty alley. It's unsettling because it makes him thinks about Junior even though it has nothing to do with him. Junior is in Jamaica and Yul is not so Yul just  needs to leave Junior alone. The problem with that is Yul just can't stop thinking about him.

An addressed postcard (Big Ben hands at 12 o'clock) sits on his table for 8 days before he finally scribbles some words on it (meaningless empty things) and mails it.

Junior,

London is good. It rains a heap but is fine.

I'm renting a place and have a job.

Everything is nice.

-Yul

++

"This is why I should be solo, like one of them crazy luge men, then I wouldn't have to be splitting all this sneaker money with the likes of you three." Despite his words Sanka is bright and eager for the photo shoot nearly vibrating in excitement.

Yul, though he doesn't show it on the outside, is equally enthusiastic that Puma wants their picture for a magazine ad. He's not excited in that way that Sanka is always happy to have attention paid his way but is excited in the same money, money, money way. Junior and Derice can have their Olympic dreams, Yul wants to get his hands grasped around more money then he has ever held in his hand at one time and as such has consented to spend the day being paraded around the city looking like a damn fool in his bobsledding gear.

Seeing that no one has been listening to his complaints Sanka tries a new tacit, draping himself over Junior's shoulder with an ease that makes the corner of Yul's eyes tighten. "Ah Junior, you're so rich, your father has already bought you a new car, you don't even want your share of this money, do you?"

"You gonna use the money to pay him back for the first car?" Yul flicks one of Sanka's dreads, then an ear until he moves away from Junior.

"Ah, get away." Sanka flaps his hands in Yul's direction and scowls, "Never mind! Split it even four ways. It's good."

Yul ignores the look Junior gives him (relieved, kind, happy,) but of course, when the photographer arranges them Yul ends up standing by Junior and at the urging of the photographer has his arm around Junior's shoulder. This close he can smell coconut oil and soap and he isn't strong enough to not enjoy the scent, enjoy the solid feel of the other man under his arm.

He knows the other three are smiling for the picture but that's not Yul way (anger is the only feeling that is always safe to let out) and it's all he can do to not actively scowl at the photographer.

"Smile," The photographer tries anyways.

"Come Yul, you're an Olympic hero," Junior cajoles elbow jabbing into his side, "that's something to smile about."

His voice is light and easy like there’s a joke that's between them, like he isn't angry with Yul for his behavior at the Olympics, or that Yul’s been ignoring him since they returned home.

"What is there to smile about anyway?" Yul grumbles, instead of thinking on it, but he turns just slightly and catches Junior's eye, sees his warm smile and his mouth tugs up involuntary.

-Click-

"Perfect."

There's a sour feeling in Yul's stomach, -guilt or fear- at the thought of him smiling tenderly at Junior in a Puma advert, for all the world to see. That his feelings are exposed, feelings that were bad in Canada but even worse in Jamaica.

That evening he goes by Derice's house and drops off his suit, helmet, and shoes; 5 days later, he's on a plane.

I'm not coming back in four years he didn't say to Derice, but it's pretty obvious he won't be.

++

Except, the problem that occurs to him is, Yul never said to Derice that he wasn't coming back. Maybe Derice thinks Yul left all that equipment with him for safe keeping. Maybe Derice's Olympic dreams are so strong he has forgotten what Yul said that day in the community centre, about leaving Jamaica for good. Yul doesn't know for sure because he hasn't talked to anyone from his bobsled team since he left the island.

Yul doesn't have a phone in his place, so he calls Irv from the phone box down the block feeding it a handful of coins until he's paid enough to reach Jamaica. He hesitates after the area code because he could just call Junior instead of sending the other man postcards full of nothing words but…

-He calls Irv-

…he was never going to call Junior.

"Holy cow kid, I thought you'd fallen off the face of the earth! How are you? You doing alright?"

The warmth in Irv's voice flusters Yul who had planned to quickly inform Irv that he needed to find a different man to sit in the middle of his bobsled.

"Everything is everything."

"Sure sure, where the hell are ya? Junior said something about England?"

"Junior?" when Yul repeats the name it comes out as a rasp, biting back an urge to ask how Junior was doing, to get Irv to describe in smallest detail how Junior was doing and looked and

talked. Instead, he says, "What about him anyway?"

"What about him nothing. I get it, you send your buddy letters and the rest of us are chopped liver."

"I'm not sending no letters!" he protests feeling caught out. "It was just a postcard."

"Eh, potato potatoes, Not my business. What is my business is the bobsled team," Before Yul can pull up the words (I quit) Irv is talking again. "It's about time you called! We really need to hash out you guy's training schedule and I've been having a hell of a time."

"I don't need no help training!" Yul says offended. He'd nearly made it to the summer Olympics without a coach.

"Yeah, how many times a week have you been working on your sprinting?"

The answer is none, and though Yul doesn't say as much Irv snorts at him like his coach can read minds.

"Yeah, that's what I thought. Listen, I get it, you think four years is forever away and you wanna have some fun, but that attitude is only going to make you soft and lose our chances for gold."

"Soft!? Now, you hear me-"

"Uh uh, you hear me ‘mon' I already have to deal with Sanka's attitude I don't need one from you too. Are you on this team or aren't you?"

There never was such a perfect opening to quit.

But Irv comparing him Yul Brenner -a hard working man if there ever was one- to Sanka Coffie - a lazy good for nothing- drives him to instead do the exact opposite: he finishes the call and goes to the park near his place and starts doing sprints. Yul realizes halfway through his second set that Irv had probably brought Sanka up to trick him.

But, he has been drinking beer every day, eating the food Miss Vea makes for him and working a much less strenuous job than his former dock work. He was getting soft and he hadn't realized how much he'd missed the focus of running. He considers calling back, trying again, but instead works on his sprints and looks for a place to start weightlifting.

He finds a gym near his place, a cluttered shabby place that few others seem to frequent. The owner, Mr. Satti, an older man with a soft voice but a wrestler’s body, is the first person, not from the island, that recognized Yul as an Olympic athlete.

Mr. Satti gets his hands on a copy of the Puma advert and makes Yul sign it before hanging it up beside his signed photo of Eddie the Eagle and Yul hates it. Almost enough to make him leave the gym.

It's not his face that he stares at (even though it’s just as bad as he feared: a tender look, love in his eyes) but Junior's smile the same soft open one he gave Yul in Canada. Junior's smile is haunting him, like a spirit tied to a cotton tree, and the only steps he can take for exorcism are writing notes on cardboard.

He takes a third postcard (Tower Bridge at night) and scratches out a message while he watches the front counter of the gym/shop while Mr. Satti steps out for lunch.

Junior,

I have found a gym to train in. The owner, Mr. Satti, is a strange man and he has hung our sneaker photo on the wall.

Every day I train I must see this foolish picture.

-Yul

++

They'd suffered through the gold medal ceremony, listened to the Swiss national anthem and the four of them had gone out to the closest bar to the village to drink. It seems that every other athlete had the same idea and the pub was full of not just other bobsledders but a whole world of other winter athletes all of which seemed to have changed their hearts regarding Jamaica and wanted to slap backs and shake hands and commiserate on their crash.

Derice ends up talking to the Swiss driver abandoning the team to nod eagerly at everything the man says practically with cartoon hearts in his eyes (it was a good thing his wife was back in Jamaica and couldn't see his shameful display).

Sanka, quickly drunk, was slurring in thick patois to a Canadian, equally drunk who in theory spoke English but in practice was speaking something else entirely (a "Newfy" the other Canadians called the man). Clearly, neither man understood the other but they were happily matching each other drink for drink nattering away.

Yul does not end up friendly with the other athletes. His stony face and stiff posture chasing the other people away except for Junior. It’s good though. Being near Junior made Yul content in a way he didn't want to think too deep on.

"You want go somewhere?"

Junior doesn't ask, why, or where just nods with a smile and says, "Yeah, that's good" like he understands what Yul needs without Yul having to explain. That's another thing that Yul doesn't want to think too close on.

Somewhere is out of the Olympic village into the unfathomable icy air that is Calgary. It's cold, a thing Yul hasn't gotten used to though he pretends it doesn't bother him. The wind hurts like tiny razor nicks where it hits his skin, so he hides half his face in his scarf and stuffs his hands in his armpits.

"You should wear gloves Yul!" Junior holds up his hands to show off his own gloves, "you're gonna get frostbite!"

"Shut it," Yul says frowning at the cheeky smile Junior gives him, But it's nice, a gentle kind of teasing that doesn't make Yul clench his fists in anger.

Junior grabs his hand (hardly counts as touching since Junior is wearing gloves) and tugs him over to a coffee shop with a bright red sign.

"Here, let's go in before you freeze to death."

The tables in the restaurant are small and Yul is very aware that his knees are pressed up against Junior's. It's a foolish thing to focus on when he is regularly squished into a metal tube with three other men. But still, Junior's knee, it feels like a brand against his own.

"This coffee is terrible," Junior says in a low voice so not to bring the wrath of the Canadians and their strange knit hats down upon them.

It is terrible, acid and bitter, nothing like the condensed milk concoction he'll drink back on the island. Still, his hands warm up where they are wrapped around the mug. He can appreciate that, even though the coffee is terrible, it's welcome in the cold.

"Yul Brenner," Junior says the whole name drawn out like it's a pleasure to say, "what are we going to do now that the Olympics are over?"

"You know what I want," Yul replies, evasively. He's never been shy about his desire to get out of Jamaica no matter if Junior says things like ‘we'. "What about you Junior?"

"Well, Derice wants to try again for gold in four years and I would very much like that. But, I will need to talk to my father. He has always had expectations for me. Finishing the race would not have changed his mind."

"What, you gonna just do what he tells you? Quit bobsledding?"

"No I don't want to quit and I don't want to go to Miami but father has always been the financial support for my training the rest of you have jobs. I should have one too yeah? I'm a man. A man has a job."

"Yeah Junior, you're a man. So, what are you gonna do? Be a teacher? Open a shop?"

"Maybe I could open a shop or…I would want a business partner. Someone…that I trusted and liked. Someone that I found…joy in working with. A person I don't want to lose just because…because the Olympics are over." Junior is looking at him, radiating both sincerity and nervousness and he's not talking about business he's talking about…

He's talking about ‘we'.

Yul opens his mouth, no words come, so he closes his mouth, and shrugs. This does nothing, Junior is still looking at him, their knees are still touching. The air is thick with things unsaid and the table is too damn small. Yul drains his cup. "Let's go."

He pulls Junior back outside and they both stop and stare because it is snowing just like in a movie. Huge white flakes slowly swirl down around them and the moonlight bounces off the snow like magic, like time is nothing and there is no one in the world but the two of them and he can forget being afraid, or being angry, and smile.

"It is very beautiful," Junior grins, teeth a flash of white against his skin, as he almost twirls to take in all the snowflakes, "even if it is so cold."

"Beautiful," Yul agrees and kisses him.

++

"Post for you Mr. Brenner," Mr. Satti says poking his head into the gym.

"What?"

"Post," the man replies, this time waving an envelope, "someone must know to reach you here. That's good. People should know that an Olympian uses my gym."

Yul takes the envelope, reads the address and feels a lurch in his chest very similar to crashing while going 150 Km an hour.

It's from Junior.

Yul mumbles an excuse to Mr. Satti and locks himself in the bathroom.

Dear Yul,

I hope that this letter can find you. You say you're in London and this place was the only business owned by a "Mr. Satti" that I could find. I pray it is the one you wrote to me about.

You don't want to talk about what happened in Calgary and we do not have to but I'm worried. You left without telling anyone where you were going or leaving an address.

Would you call me? And let me know that you received this letter. And let me know how you are.

How long will you stay away? When are you coming home? Are you coming back?

Please, I miss you, my friend. If I have done something that upset you, I am very sorry.

Love,

Junior

Yul reread the letter four times before the words start to have any meaning. And yes, he did not misread: Junior had written love. It's an absolute outrage that Junior is able to write that word, all the words in fact when Yul has struggled to write what little he has.

When are you coming home? Are you coming back?

And those are two different questions. Home? Yul doesn't have that in Jamaica. He has no family to talk on and as for friends that sense of camaraderie and being part of a team hadn't even happened on the island; it had happened in some frozen wasteland of a city. Jamaica is not home.

I miss you, Junior says. Yul could almost say that back. I miss you. He could have written or the same thing with a different four-letter word or even, I wish you were here. And he does try, buys a new postcard and writes very deliberately, I miss you, I love you, I wish you were here and he drops it in the mailbox but he doesn't address it, he doesn't add postage and those words will never make it to Jamaica or Junior.

He doesn't call.

The postcard he addressed correctly (Westminster Abbey under a pale blue sky, 4th in the set) he writes, in unnecessary block print:

I AM NOT COMING BACK

Because no matter what his heart may want, he cannot go back to the island where his parents died in fights between PNP and JLP, where Yul works all day but can hardly afford to live, where being called batty man and being beaten up and jailed went hand and hand.

Where Junior would be close enough to touch but just as untouchable as he is now when Yul is in England.

What he'd told Junior once in a Calgary bar was no lie; when Yul looks at him he sees pride and power and a strong-willed man.

But Yul is the opposite; He's a shameful, weak, coward.

He drops the postcard in the post box.

++

Yul wakes up with his face pressed to Junior's chest, the two of them crowded together on Yul's bed and he's never done this before, woken up with a person he cared for. It fills something, a hole in his chest he hadn't even know had been there.

And he is content for a moment, unafraid for a moment, listening to the rhythm of Junior's heartbeat.

But he wakes up, gradually, and realizes where he is not just as a location but where he is situation wise. Because he is naked, in a bed with another man and their room reeks of sex -the room their teammates, or coach, could at any moment walk in, would likely walk in because of that what they did -and the gentle snowfall didn't magically change the realities of life, couldn't make a future where this was a thing that could just happen, where Yul could just spend a slow morning holding another man in his arms listening to his heartbeat because there were laws-

There were laws and they had just kissed on a public street and Yul doesn't even know if that's legal in this country (it's not on the island) but they had done it and stumbled into their room kissing without a regard for safety-

He gets up, pulls on his pants and opens the window hoping to air out the room before anyone comes in.

"G'morning," Junior blinks at him all soft eyes and smile (the same soft smile Yul had kissed over and over last night) and reaches out like he'd like to pull Yul back down or do any number of unacceptable things because it is morning now.

Yul throws Junior's clothing at him. "Get dressed."

He ignores the hurt look on the man's face, gets dressed and leaves the room.

++

Yul sends the postcard and washes his hands of it all. He's not thinking on Junior no more. He's made his choice.

Then it's a week or so into September and Hurricane Gilbert hits Jamaica hard. The Monday it makes landfall Yul is holed up in Miss Vea's flat dialing number after number on her phone. She has family in Spanish Town, her sister and nephews, an uncle in Kingston and he calls them for her interspersed with his own calls to Irv, Derice, and finally Junior.

None of the calls make it through and the beeping tone from each failed call sounds like hell.

He calls the Jamaican embassy and that eventually goes through to a very tired woman who doesn't have any new information about anything.

The next few days is the same, Yul dials, the beeps are all he hears, the newspaper is more interested in talking about damage to America and every Jamaican he sees has some new terrible news some new terrible word "they say the hospital roof flew right off" "all the banana trees gone" "the whole town flooded" "so many dead".

It's all they can do to keep calling even though nothing gets through.

Over 48 hours after landfall, Yul is alone in Miss Vea's apartment (she has left to church) and he's working his way down the list a number of hers, a number of his. The call fails, the line drones, he clicks the hang-up and spins the rotary again. Repeat.

Repeat

"Hello?" the line crackles.

 Yul's brain stumbles a moment before it catches up to the fact someone has just answered him, "Derice? That you?"

"Yeah, it's me. Yul?"

"You aright, Derice?"

 "Yeah man. Me and Joy are fine."

 "And is…how is…"

 "Junior is good too. We're all good."

Yul doesn't even deny his concern for Junior, doesn't hardly register that Derice had assumed (correctly) that Junior had been Yul's main concern. Instead, Yul let out a deep breath that he didn't know he was holding and sinks to the floor in relief.

He hardly registers the rest of the call, the fact that no one was seriously hurt, that of course Junior and his big house are fine, making him almost giddy. He feels alive again after the call like he's woken up from a terrible dream.

There's another letter waiting for him at the gym and he feels like nervous fingers are tapping on his heart when he sees it's from Junior. But then he sees the letter is postmarked as being sent more than a week before the hurricane came and the feeling is more like a fist clenched around his guts.

The letter is short too short to tell if the emotions are angry at Yul or sad and it hurts more then if Junior had sent a knife to bury itself in Yul's chest

Yul,

I am sorry. I imagined something much more then you meant. I never meant to trouble you so, my friend. I hope, we can still be teammates. Please know this; you can come back to Jamaica and I won't bother you.

-Junior

He thinks for a stupid moment, that he should call Derice back and get him to tell Junior for Yul how much a bother Junior is not. Which is foolish. Instead, he calls Junior's house and gets the sound of a call unable to connect. Because power is still out all over the island; honestly it was a miracle he was able to talk to Derice in the first place.

When the woman from the airline politely tells him that there are no flights currently available to Jamaica he slams the receiver down goes home and pulls out his last postcard.

The picture is Buckingham Palace again because it is fate or more likely because it was a cheap set of postcards. The same building, perhaps even the exact same card but the sky is grey and the building doesn't gleam gold. It's just a house. Just a building.

Dear Junior,

It's not you that keeps me away. Happy you are alive,

I love you,

Yul Brenner

 --

Weeks later he's had no response which is a response and it’s no more then he deserves.

Yul doesn’t call Derice back, or Junior but pushes himself into training harder some vague idea that by being good, by being the best, that in four years maybe he can be less of a coward.

That’s what he’s focused on, his training, pushing himself when he steps into Satti’s Gym and trips over a pile of suitcases.

“Ah Mr. Brenner, you are so late. Your friend has been waiting for hours.” Mr. Satti scolds, gesturing to Junior who is blood fire! who is not in Jamaica. Who is here in England.

“Junior?”

Junior gives him a small wave. “Hello, Yul.”

He looks good. He’s wearing a bright sweater and a scarf even though it is not that cold and his hair is growing long the curls blurring the edges of the cut. The Puma ad is off the wall and on the counter because of course, Satti has bullied Junior into signing it too. Junior looks at Yul nervous and expectant as though whatever Yul is gonna say he’s not gonna like it.

“This is a lot of bags,” Yul says grabbing the two large suitcases. “Thank you Mr. Satti, be seeing you.” He jerks his head toward the door until Junior grabs up the other bags and follows along beside him towards Yul’s place.

“Where are we going?” Junior asks, after a few minutes, then plants his feet, “I’m not going to the airport.”

“We are going to mine," Yul says, can't think of anything else to say starts walking again, looking back to make sure Junior is coming as well. They make it to the park, halfway, and cut through when Junior stops again.

“Are you angry with me for coming here?” Junior asks then with a blink scowls and jabs Yul in the chest, “You cannot be angry about that. What else should I do?"

Yul, rubs the back of his head sheepishly, “No I am not angry,” he starts and just stops because he still doesn’t have the right words.

Junior reaches into a bag and pulls out a handful of something that is, once Yul gets a good look, the postcards he mailed. Junior shakes the cards at Yul so hard it seems he’ll fling the whole thing at Yul’s nose. “You are a confusing man Yul Brenner.”

“I am a stupid man,” Yul corrects and kisses him.

--

They end up, afterward, crammed together in Yul's too small bed, Yul's head on Junior's chest so he can hear the tidal sounds of Junior's heartbeat. He feels that good satisfaction, the ache of running, the snap of things falling into place as he rises and falls with each breath the man takes and Junior rubs lazy circles on the back of Yul's neck with his thumb.

“So,” Junior asks, slow almost smug, “does this mean you like me?”

Yul huffs a laugh into Junior's skin.

"Maybe."