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just like little fish

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He was in a field in another country when he woke up, limbs spread awkwardly yet not uncomfortably, someone's shirt bunched up into a makeshift pillow beneath his head. The sky was spread like a vast blanket above him, and he blinked the sleep out of his eyes as he stared at it, uncomprehending. It took a long time to remember where he was, the neutral surroundings of grass and trees and fresh air making his head reel out of slumber in a daze of disorientation until it all swam back to him; the aches of touring, the hours spent in the van and the gigs each night.

Dave blinked slowly and raised a hand to his cheek, feeling the residual warmth where the sun had touched his skin earlier that day. He had little idea of how long he'd been lying there, stoned and drunk and comfortable in the lee of a hedge. Kurt and Krist had left him, aware that sleep was the best cure for an over-tired drummer when good coffee was in short supply. Several hours had passed since his last coherent memory. The sun had moved across the sky while his eyes were closed, and had withdrawn beyond the horizon just as they flickered open again.

There was only the distant hiss of traffic and the voices of his two band mates to bear testimony to his awakening; the noises faint and far-off. Small insects hummed in the grasses and a beetle left a crawling sensation on the skin of the back of his hand; he brushed at it lazily with an idle nonchalance. Things at the corners of his vision began to drift back into focus. His head still buzzed faintly with a sensation that he assumed had been caused by a combination of foreign beer and the last of the pot. The world swam when he swung his gaze sideways, staring out over the flat expanse of grass, appearing grey and bland in the half-light. Everything felt good, and the sky was full of colors.

Dusk seemed to fall over the fields first of all. He propped himself up on one elbow and scanned the field for his band mates, catching Krist's high-pitched, stoned laugh before he could pick their figures out of the increasing gloom; saw him staggering and Kurt gripping his shoulder; two dark shapes silhouetted in the fading light.

It was Krist's shirt beneath his head, Dave realized, reaching for it and attempting to shake out the creases. After a brief moment of contemplation, he abandoned this attempt and spread it out on the grass beside him, and stood, head swimming again pleasantly; a partial reminder of the crazy carousel of thoughts he'd experienced earlier, sitting in the back of the van before he'd gone staggering out into the field after Krist.

His eyes had adjusted gradually to the gloom, and when he picked out the shape of Kurt, alone now, he started walking towards him, his first few steps slightly shaky as his body rediscovered what it was to be in control of his limbs without the confounding influence of alcohol or drugs. The fresh night air helped him shed any remainder of his earlier drowsiness, and he felt he was in a strange state encompassing both temporary refreshment and a deeper-seated tiredness.

When he reached Kurt he found that he was not alone. Krist was curled in the grass by his feet, a faint smile on his relaxed face.

"Hey," Dave greeted softly, and waited for Kurt to turn around. He did so with faint surprise although he must have heard Dave's careful footsteps through the long grass. Dave caught the gleam of a faint light in his eyes. The colours of the sky were retreating now too, but the light still came from somewhere with a dim persistence.

"Sleep good?" Kurt asked him with a hint of gentle mockery; Dave noticed the dark circles underneath his eyes and wondered when was the last time he'd had a decent night's sleep himself.

They slept together most nights now, arms curled around each other awkwardly in the confined space. It broke the lonely monotony of travelling from place to place and watching the headlights of other cars pass them by, rocking the van slightly as they went. When he had first woken up alone beneath the faded sky, he had felt strange and had not understood why. Now, standing near to Kurt again, he understood why it had felt like something had been missing.

He nodded gently, but made no move, not yet. Instead, he let his gaze fall to Krist, his body at last stilled with a sleep brought on by a combination of drugs and successive late nights; parties that provided free alcohol and numerous other distractions. Kurt sniffed in quiet mirth at the sight of their bassist at last silent and motionless. Grass had stained his tee-shirt from hours earlier, where he had been drunk and laughing and tripping up and down hidden furrows, falling into ditches. There were faint scratch marks from the hedges on his arms.

"You gonna let him sleep?" Dave asked.

"Yeah," Kurt shrugged. "Why not? He won't get cold out here. We can keep an eye on him." Dave nodded, looking past Kurt and seeing the van parked up in the far corner of the field, doors wide open, several other people seated either inside with their legs dangling out, or on the grass beside it, still drinking beer. The faint noises of their conversations drifted across the distance between them in the still night air.

Kurt eased himself down a few meters away from where Krist lay with his head tilted back and his mouth hanging open, arms held limply by his sides, and after a few moments Dave followed his example. As he folded himself into a seated position, he was reminded suddenly of glancing over his shoulder as he staggered away from the hedge and seeing the imprint his body had left there in the grass.

Kurt yawned beside him, and Dave realized that he was loath to let him sleep. It was early evening; Kurt could have all the hours he wanted of tomorrow, but the brief rest earlier had left Dave alert and not exactly eager to retire to the discomfort of the van. But a quick sideways glance at Kurt reassured him; he seemed to have no desire to move and was merely gazing thoughtfully into the distance.

"Okay?" Dave asked him, wanting to see Kurt's face again. He had not even the slightest suspicion that something was wrong, and would have liked to believe that he'd have been able to tell were there the slightest of problems; he asked only so that Kurt would look at him again, so that the strange light would again glimmer in his eyes.

The clink of bottles carried from the van, and Kurt smiled softly. Risking a quick glance at Krist to check that he was still out, he glanced hesitantly at Dave, who grinned back at him. The middle of the field seemed to be in a state of limbo between the drunken activity of those based around the van and the utter stillness by the hedge. The only sound was Krist's heavy breathing and the slight rustle as Kurt shifted position.

"Come over, then," Dave said, and patted the grass next to him, knowing exactly what Kurt wanted. Kurt came closer to him and rested his head on his shoulder, his gentle exhalations tickling at Dave's skin. For a long time they remained that way, gazing out over the fields and the hedges as they stretched into the distance, until Dave pulled Kurt around to face him and kissed him, gentle and deep.

Dipping his head to the hollow of Dave's collarbone, Kurt smiled and laughed faintly. Dave could feel it against his skin. The sensation filled him with happiness, and reminded him oddly of evenings back home, smoking and drinking and wearily watching the sun go down from their apartment. A field somewhere in Europe may have had its differences, but some things never changed.

Dave lay backwards again and pulled Kurt on top of him, resting his hands on his hips, at ease with the comfortable weight of his friend straddling him. He pulled him forwards a little more, hands gliding over his thighs, long fingers tickling at his stomach, listening to him laugh happily and wondering whether the noise would wake Krist. He reflected that it did not matter anyway, but the lack of motion from where he lay confirmed that he was presumable still sleeping; out for the night.

Krist was quite happy for the two of them to do whatever the hell they wanted on tour. His attention was consumed by making sure the band had a constant supply of pot; he reveled in rambling conversations at three in the morning when Dave and Kurt were barely awake, lived for the feeling of close friendship and playing the bass onstage every night, and was open-minded enough to view whatever Dave and Kurt did as being nothing particularly extraordinary. Dave loved that; the fact that it could be found so unremarkable.

"No stars," Kurt said softly, and Dave tilted his head back fully and rested it there, gazing upwards, searching quietly for a pinprick of light among the dusky charcoal black of the night. There was nothing, only the vague softness of clouds here and there, and a faint glow from a nearby city whose name he did not know.

"Guess not," Dave said.

Looking briefly towards the sky again, he found himself filled with a quiet appreciation for everything that touring meant, every little detail that he always failed to put into words. Searching for starlight reminded him of something Kurt had said, lying his belly on the roof of the van, smoking and gazing out at the bright lights of another unknown city. The stars were just like little fish, and the words swam back into Dave's mind now.

Time passed, and the sky darkened almost imperceptibly. The two of them were quiet, each thinking, Dave's hand idly fiddling with the hem of Kurt's shirt. After a while, Kurt swung his leg back over Dave's torso and lay by his side instead, close enough so that Dave could feel the warmth radiating from his skin. Krist slept on in the grass nearby, oblivious to all, existing only in his dreams of stoned bliss.

The three of them would remain like that until the morning light paled the sky and weak sunlight cast rays among the grass. Dave knew that someone from the van would eventually come to check on them and perhaps hand them a blanket, but that was all. He looked forward to murmured conversations and morning dew. Kurt and Krist were with him, and that was all he could bring himself to be concerned about.

His hand found Kurt's in the silence, and he gripped it loosely, a faint smile on his face. Still gazing at the sky, he thought of Kurt and the band and touring and strange new skylines until all of his thoughts began to tail away into a general feeling of happiness. He imagined there to be lights in the darkness, brightness and colors littering the horizon. Shifting closer to Kurt, he shut his eyes and let the stars fill his head.