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Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly

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1. "Shut Your Eyes" - Snow Patrol.

It really doesn't matter that this isn't what Jay wants, as he smoothes himself against the nobodies in the pulsing dark-light-darkness. The snow's dense outside but the dance floor's boiling, and his eyes are shut, the music pounding so loud against him as to be almost beyond hearing. They never came here when there was a ‘they', and that's what he needs, this, here, now: the absence of memories, the absence of mind, and the high-pulsed dancing reducing the universe to a simple matter of push and pull and pull and push; Jay can deal with that. It doesn't matter if the hands exploring the lines of his body seem disconnected from both reality and their owners, he still curves against them and just flows. He's had his shot at happiness; had it, played it, lost it, and if he moves sinuously now in the bright-dark against these others, well, to him they're all one, the same, and nothing, and either way not that one boy he could wear with such an easy itch against his skin, and thus, and thus, it really doesn't matter. It's not as though promises were actually spoken, the motions of his body remind him beneath the throb of the music, so it's not as though they could have been broken either. Besides, that's what hearts were made for.

2. "Monster Hospital" - Metric.

Nobody in their right mind could be jealous of Metis, Metis and his golden retriever jock, Metis with his stupid juice box spilling down the front of his shirt as he lets out a squeal at something Josh does to him just-out-of-sight, Metis squirming on Josh's lap like a little girl, and a deep blush blossoming from Josh's neck to his ears as that squirming takes effect. Nobody in their right mind could be jealous of that. But then, to be honest, Charles never laid much claim to being fully in his right mind (great intellects are sceptical), despite what the world might presume of him, and he's pretty sure that he's officially fucked when he realises that his traitorous eyes have, yet again, slid from Metis and his pet footballer to survey a certain scene boy, who's sucking on a spoon, all bright lips and dull silver, further down the cafeteria table. Jay smiles out at Charles from behind his dark bangs, a little cautious, a little knowing, and Charles understands, for the very first time, what urge it was that might have possessed Josh to beat the living shit out of Metis in the beginning. You just lost the game.

3. "La mer enchanté" - Morgan.

Sshhh, Charles murmurs, leaning in close and playing his lips past black hair and onto blonde, smoothing his hand almost absently down the length of Jay's right arm and then back up again, curving fingertips into a clavicle's shallowed dip. Jay smiles slowly, blinking up at the bright sunlight and the unexpected boy leaning over him, Charles' hair spun into a golden corona by the brilliance of summer. Did I wake you? Charles asks, plucking up the book that Jay had let rest on his bare chest, studying it with thumb and finger and cynical eyes before laying it to one side near empty drink bottles and browning banana peels with a twist at his lips that might have said, what nonsense, or, I'd have expected you to read that, or even, interesting. Jay just watches him, happy either way, and Charles shifts the oversized umbrella (Metis's, naturally, though it seems his sun allergy has decreased exponentially with the presence of a half-naked Josh in the ocean spray) with a push of his shoulders and a twist of his wrist, so that it stains the sunlight purple and blocks them from the view of the rippling water. You look beautiful, observes Charles, and it's such an un-Charles-like thing to say, and said so much like he means it, that Jay's smile twitches from his mouth to his eyes and he reaches up and pulls his boyfriend down towards him, and the sting of the sand and the salt are of little matter as they still their talk and communicate much more deeply.

4. "Barcelona" - Jewel.

Two boys sit silently in a deserted parking lot, autumn tossing cans and leaves carelessly around, and neither of them notice, caught, as they are, in the weirdness that is not needing to make a point, not needing to make someone smile, not needing to toss up a caustic shield, not needing to step back, depending on whom is whom. Neither is either, here, in the silence of the deserted parking lot, and they don't speak a word because that might make it real, prove it false, or unknit it with the ease of an unfurling ball of string. It is enough, this, just sitting, and feeling the warmth of their hands entwined between them, so still but so fierce, thumbs gripped and nails digging, as though they bind themselves to each other and thus to the world, because the bitumen beneath them has stuck to their shoes in a flush of unpredictable late-autumn heat and, for the first time, they are in sync with the universe, connected, tied, bound and thus, in the eternal paradox, ultimately free.

5. "Feltham Is Singing Out" - HARD-Fi.

If sometimes the world implodes in on them, it's not their fault. If sometimes the path is winding its way towards inexplicable darkness, or mind-numbing noise, or the faces of grandparents snarling something about perversions, it's not their fault. But if sometimes they lock themselves away and lose themselves to the beat of their own blissful deviancy... that, they can be blamed for. Not that they care.

6. "A Crow Left Of The Murder" - Incubus.

The first time, it's Charles slamming him against a wardrobe door in the house of a girl whose name Jay can't even remember, his hand down the front of Jay's jeans, his voice breathing ragged incomprehensibilities into Jay's ear as he jerks him off angrily, while Jay just stands there shaking from the violation, and the astonishment, and the fact that he's just come all over Charles and Charles barely seems to notice, simply wipes his palms off on the inside of his own shirt, glares a moment longer, then stalks away, leaving Jay trying to catch his breath and find his belt and work out what the fuck just happened. The second time it's Charles cornering him behind old props in the theatre, touching him, pressing at him, making him mewl like a baby until Jay forgets that he didn't initiate this, until he forgets that it was uninvited, and his hips are arching and straining in response to Charles', and Jay slides his hands up the back of Charles' shirt and hauls him in closer, nipping at his neck with his teeth, and they both come in gasping silence, leaving about forty seconds to disconnect themselves before the cast troop back off-stage and discover them there, staring mutely at opposite walls. The third time it's in Jay's bedroom, and he's gazing at Charles from enormous, dark eyes, asking without asking, knowing without knowing, until finally Charles mutters something Jay can't quite catch, but sounds obscene, stalking over and laying himself out on the bed beside Jay; he meets Jay's kiss with an unexpected gentleness.

7. "Feel A Whole Lot Better" - The Byrds.

Neither of them is entirely sure whose fault it is when they find themselves alone at the end of it; neither of them is certain who betrayed whom, or who told the first lie, or who it was who took that first step towards slow and twisting agony. Neither of them is entirely sure, but they both claim it's better over. And they both blame themselves and bleed quietly inside.

8. "The Wrong Band" - Tori Amos.

Everything costs something, Charles says. There's a question in his voice beneath the cynicism, but for a moment Jay pretends he didn't hear him, pretends he's still asleep, enjoys the fine art of breathing in the scent of Charles' skin. Charles gives him half a minute's grace before sliding his fingers thoughtfully along Jay's hipbone, and Jay can't help but shift against him at the touch, and his eyelashes flutter against Charles' bare chest despite himself, so then he gives up, and brushes his lips against fine blonde hair and over a nipple, before opening his eyes and raising his head. He smiles then, with a wry bitterness that could be channelled directly from his boyfriend's soul, and murmurs, don't you believe in anything? Charles stays silence for once, just strokes his fingers along Jay's body, memorising it, annotating it, just in case, just in case, because Charles is Charles, and he spends his whole life waiting for the axe to fall. As for Jay... Jay just dreams it through his skin and into the blood that beats around his heart.

9. "Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly" - H.I.M.

There's a four letter word that Charles denies the very existence of but sometimes, even despite that, he can't help but feel it's creeping up on him from all directions, threatening to choke him, drown him, pummel him to death and tear out his wings. Because doesn't that word involve the selling of your very soul, mutual-cannibalism? Doesn't that word involve self-sacrifice? And yet, and yet, the worst thing, as that word he denies sneaks in sideways just out of sight, is the fear that it's not him who's been lessened. He's haunted by the look on Jay's face when they fuck, haunted, because he doesn't think they're doing the same thing anymore, haunted, because he's scared of what it means if they're making love.

10. "On The Mend" - Foo Fighters.

Jay lets the phone ring. He doesn't want to speak to anyone but Charles, and Charles is the last person on earth he wants to hear from. He lets the phone ring, and tells himself he'll be fine soon. Just fine.