Actions

Work Header

New York Conversation

Work Text:

It was almost two am, and Julian had just been thrown out of the bar by a big, Russian bouncer. The door was slammed right in his face and he stood there, for a couple of minutes, trying to recollect himself.

He blacked out again.

It happened a lot, lately. Something would happen, something big, and within a few minutes he would have no recollection of the event.

After standing like a statue in front of the bar for a couple minutes, he decided that it wouldn't do him any good, and it surely wouldn't help him remember.

He noticed, then, that his entire body ached, as if he'd just ran a marathon. He took a deep breath, and shivered a little. It was getting really cold lately, and he couldn't be bothered enough to dress up accordingly. He started walking, not in a particular direction; just trying to get away from...

Well, he didn't know exactly what from. But he needed to get away.

He walked for about fifteen minutes, and turned to an alleyway behind the north side of central park.

He sat down on a cold metal bench, and fumbled in his pocket, reaching for his box of cigarettes and lighter.
He put a cigarette in his mouth, then lit it, cupping his hands around it to shield it from the cold wind.

He inhaled deeply, savoring the feeling. He was drunk. Or maybe he wasn't, he didn't really know.

His body instantly tensed up when he saw the shadow of a man turning towards him. He fisted his hand in his pocket; he knew being out this late in a dark alley in New York was not a particularly smart idea. You have to be on edge all the time.
When the figure stepped into the light, though, he calmed down. It was just a kid, couldn't be older than twenty. He was walking around, smoking, getting closer and closer to Julian.

He sat down beside him.

Julian didn't let himself look at him; he needed to be in his head right now. He needs to remember. No matter how hard he tried, though, he couldn't recall anything from the moment he walked into the bar.
Maybe he just needs to see a doctor. Maybe he has Alzheimer's. Regardless of the reason, it was really frustrating.

"You're bleeding, you know." The kid said in a raspy voice, and took a drag from his cigarette. He had a thick accent; northern British.

"Huh?" Julian asked, snapping out of his thought.

"Your lip." He said, gesturing to it. "It's busted."

"Oh." Julian said, putting his fingers on his lip. It was wet, and sure enough when He looked at his fingers he saw blood. It hurt like hell; it made him flinch when he touched it.

And then, he remembered.

"Yeah." he said, smiling lightly to himself.

"And... You're happy about it?" The kid asked sarcastically, and Julian let out a deep chuckle.

"It's just that I blacked out, and when you mentioned it I remembered." He explained, pulling his shirt up to reveal a nasty bruise on his hip, inspecting it.

He took a drag, and exhaled slowly, letting the smoke spiral through the cold air.

"Who beat you up, then?" The boy beside him asked, a little tactlessly, but it didn't faze Julian. He could respect him being so forward.

"Just... Some dude at a bar." Julian said, and turned to look at the boy. He had a lot of hair, and it was a complete mess. He was wearing a jean jacket, and he held the cigarette between his lips in a way that made Julian's insides turn.

"Why?"

"Because I feel like getting into trouble today." Said Julian. His eyes were closed, and his head was leaned back. He was sucking on his cigarette with such intensity; he could have finished it with that one drag. "I really felt like getting the shit beat out of me, so I made it happen." Julian opened his eyes to see the kid looking at him, exhaling the smoke out of his lungs. The boy looked away quickly though, looking at his knees.

He was shy, Julian could tell.

"That's depressing." He commented.

"Or it's poetic." Julian said, not quite proud, but far from being ashamed. "You know, a self-destructive maniac is the new sexy."

The kid chuckled, then took another drag.

"You said it." The kid said, and Julian looked at his cigarette. It was a bloody mess.

"I'm so hardcore I'm smoking my own blood." The kid laughed, His lips curving up and his cheeks turning red. It was adorable.
"What's your name, then?" Julian asked.

"I'm Alex." The kid said, flicking his cigarette away.

"Julian." Julian said, throwing his cigarette on the ground and stomping it. He put his hands in his pockets, the air freezing him down to his bones. He could feel exactly where he'd been hit, every single bruise. He then concluded that he might have a black eye too, and saw that the knuckles of his right hand were completely messed up, different shades of black and blue, and some little cuts. On top of that, his wrist hurt like hell. He must've laid a punch or two. Nice.

"So, Alex, what's a kid like you doing this part of town at 2 am? I could be a murderer, for all you know." Julian asked, and turned to look at Alex. He had really gentle features, though most of his face was hidden behind the mop of unruly hair.

"Taking a walk. Can't sleep." Alex explained.

"You're not from around here, I assume" Julian continued.

"Sheffield. Northern England." He said, putting another cigarette between his lips.

"I know where Sheffield is, I'm not stupid. What are you doing here, then?" Julian questioned further, offering to light Alex's cigarette, just to have an excuse to get closer.

"Well," He said, after Julian lit his cigarette, "My band got some gigs here." He continued, and Julian raised his eyebrows.

"You got a band? What do you play?" He was genuinely interested, the pain and the cold almost completely forgotten by this point.

"Garage, indie. A little alternative maybe? I don't know, I can't be objective on my own music." Alex explained, a little awkwardly, tucking a piece of hair behind his ear, revealing more of his face.

"That's cool. Maybe I'll come to one of your gigs, then." Julian said, raising one eyebrow at Alex.

"I'll get you and whoever you want to bring in for free. Just tell them you're Alex Turners friend."

"So, we're friends then?" Julian asked, putting his hands in his pockets. He didn't mean it in an irrespective way, he just made a statement.

"If you'd like us to be." Alex shrugged. He was a cool kid, Julian thought to himself.

"Yeah, I think I'd like that." Julian said in the same nonchalant matter, smiling lightly. "Hey, so that band of yours... Any EPs yet? Albums? Anything at all?"

"Just finished recording the first album. Gonna be released in January. Got some minor hit singles though, which is nice, I guess..." He was modest, and didn't seem like he enjoyed bragging. Julian liked that.

"And where can I find any of that?" Julian asked, too curious for his own good.

"Just look up Arctic Monkeys online, we got some of the singles on our site."

"You're called Arctic Monkeys?" Julian asked, his eyebrows raised and a smile playing on his lips.

"Sure are, mate." Alex seemed unapologetically proud of the name.

"I dig it." Julian said, now smiling a wide smile, but quickly gasping and putting his lips back together. Smiling made his lip sting like crazy. Alex laughed at that, looking down at his knees.

"What are you laughing at?" Julian teased him, nudging Alex's elbow with his own. "Is my pain funny to you?" He asked sarcastically, making Alex laugh again. He decided that he was going to do it a lot, he loved how Alex looked when he laughed; his lips curving up and his cheeks reddening, his eyes squinting in that adorable way.

"I just never thought I'd meet Julian Casablancas in a dark alleyway at 2 am right after he got the shit beaten out of him. It's quite amusing, really." Alex explained, shaking his head.

"You know who I am, then?" Julian asked, tuning to look at Alex, who met his eyes soon enough.

"What, you expect me not to?" It was a rhetorical question. Julian just didn't think he acted like a fan at all, really. He was just so... normal throught the conversation.

"Alex, you're a pretty cool kid." Alex's cheeks turned a sort of rosy hue, maybe because of Julian's comment, or maybe it was just the cold. Maybe it was just Julian's imagination. Alex's phone beeped and he took it out of his pocket, flipping it open. He then got up.

"Listen mate, my friends are freaking so I'm gonna head back. It was nice meeting you." He said, and turned his way. Julian got to his feet.

"Wait." He said, and Alex turned to face him. "I should give you my number, you know, so that you can tell the details of your show."

Alex nodded. "Yeah, I guess that'd be a good Idea." He said, and Julian scribbled his digits on a page of a little notepad he used for writing lyrics wherever he was.

"Also, you really should go see a doctor." Alex said, looking at Julian's hand while he was writing his number.

"I'll be fine." Said Julian, handing the note to Alex with a soft smile.

"Think about it, at least. Good night." Alex said, and walked off.

"Night Alex." Julian said, just before Alex turned the corner and vanished.

Definitely too pretty to be walking by himself at this hour, Julian thought to himself.

He headed home, and the moment he reached his bedroom he collapsed on his bed, falling asleep immediately.

***

When Julian woke up at 11 am the next day, the first thing he did was shower. He inspected his body, seeing for the first time how bad the situation really was. He didn't remember it being this bad.

The bruise on his hip turned a shade of dark purple. He also had a large bruise on his chest, and his right hand looked even worse than it did last night.

After a long shower in which he made sure to scrub his entire body as good as he can, he walked out with a towel wrapped around his waist. He walked into the living room, and froze in front of the mirror that was hanging right next to his door.

"Fuck." His face looked just as bad as his body. His lip was swollen and cut, he had a black eye, and his left cheekbone was bruised and had a cut right along it.

That dude wasn't messing around; Julian looked like a fucking galaxy.

And suddenly, the front door opened, and Julian regretted ever giving the guys spare keys to his apartment.

"Jesus fuck, Nick! I could've been naked..." Julian exclaimed angrily.

"Nothing I haven't seen before." Nick was laughing loudly, closing the door behind him.

"Well, the neighbors didn't..." Julian said, as Nick calmed down, and then glanced at Julian with his mouth wide open.

"Jesus, who did this to you?" He asked, walking towards Julian urgently.

"Nothing, I just got into some trouble. It's all good." Nick was totally unamused.

"Have you looked at yourself?" He asked him. "I'm taking you to the doctor."

"No, Nick come on-"

"We're going." Nick said, grabbing Julian's hand, making Julian gasp loudly and pull his hand away.

"Fuck's sake Nick!" He was massaging his hand lightly. It hurt so much he thought might have broken his wrist.

"Sorry, sorry... Just go get dressed; I'm not letting you ignore this." Julian sighed in defeat. He knew he wouldn't win this argument. He just went to his bedroom, got dressed, and let Nick drive him to the emergency room.

As they were walking through the hospital doors, Nick dialed a number and was holding his phone to his ear.

"Nick dude, please don't tell the other guys..." Julian begged, but Nick was already speaking.

"Hey Fab, listen, Julian got the shit beaten out of him last night, I'm taking him to the ER. You guys should come. Alright. Bye." Before Julian even had the chance to protest in any way, Nick hung up and was addressing the secretary. Julian sat down among all the other sick people, leaning his head back and closing his eyes.

He didn't like hospitals. They were loud, and full of kids, and you had to wait for so long before you could be treated.

He felt someone sit beside him.

"Feel like telling me what happened?" Nick asked, grabbing Julian's left hand and sticking the ER band on it. Julian's eyes were still closed.

"I went to get a drink, and this guy bumped into me, seemed like he was doing it on purpose. So I pushed him, and he asked me if I'm looking for trouble and I said maybe I was. And then he punched the living crap out of my and I was thrown out of the bar." Julian explained.

"Shit..." Nick said, and Julian dozed off into a short, restless sleep. He was exhausted, after all.

He didn't sleep for long, half an hour at best, before he heard muttering around him.

"Is he dead?" He could hear Nikolai ask, and had he had the energy, he would burst out laughing.

"No he's not fucking dead, Niko." Albert said.

"Well, he looks like crap." Nikolai commented and Julian smiled.

"Bet I look better than you do most of the time." He said before opening his eyes, seeing the guys around him, laughing. He straightened up in his chair, using only his left hand, which had proven to be more difficult than he thought.

"How're you feeling?" Fab asked, sitting next to him.

"Fantastic." Julian said sarcastically. "No, I actually am fine, I just look like crap."

"And why did this happen?" Fab continued.

"Needed to let out some steam. I feel better than I did before." Julian said matter-of-factly.

"Julian Casablancas?" A nurse called out and he got up.

What followed was a couple of hours of tests, x-rays and waiting. He didn't have any fractures in the torso area, but he did in fact break his wrist. After he got a cast put on and got his lip disinfected, they gave him some ointment and he was released to go home. Most of the guys got into the car with Nick, And Fab insisted to take Julian home alone, so that he has more room.

"Jules, you ok?" Fab asked him as they sat in the car, probably not referring to his physical state.

"I am. I really am now. You know, yesterday was really great." Julian said, and Fab furrowed his eyebrows, his eyes still on the road.

"I met someone. It's this kid, Alex, sat on the bench beside me in the middle of the night. He turned out to be a really awesome guy, promised to get us free tickets for his bands gig. They call themselves the Arctic Monkeys." Julian was speaking in a low, calm voice, but he was actually pretty excited.

"Oh man, no shit, they're a great band." Fab said, now smiling. "Look in the glove compartment; I'm supposed to have a tape." Julian didn't need to be told twice; he was already fumbling in the mess, and quickly found a tape marked Arctic Monkeys. He popped it in, and just listened for a few minutes.

"They're pretty fucking great." Julian said, the raw energy they gave off restored his belief in rock music, almost. It was definitely Alex singing, he thought to himself.

"Sure are."

It didn't take long for them to get to Julian's place, and Fab helped him up the stairs even though Julian told him he could do it by himself. It was nice to know he cared so much.

"You gonna be alright from here?" Fab asked, as they were standing in Julian's doorway.

"Seriously, dude, I'm fine, just go." Julian said, and Fab patted his shoulder and went his own way.

Julian let his body fall on the couch, and closed his eyes, ready to drift off and forget about everything. His phone started buzzing in his pocket, making him groan and open his eyes, then fish for his phone. It was an unknown number. He flipped it open.

"Hello?" He answered.

"Hey Julian, It's Alex, I don't know if you remember me." Julian smiled to himself, remembering last night.

"Of course I remember you. How've you been?"

"Same old. Listen, we got a gig tonight if you wanna come." He said a little hesitantly, and Julian could just picture the rosy hue on his cheeks.

"I'd love to. Is it okay if I bring the band with me?" Julian asked, already holding his notepad and a pen in his hand.

"The more the merrier. It's at The Plaza, 9 pm. Just tell the bouncer you're Julian, I'll let him know." Julian quickly jotted down the details, excitement boiling up in his stomach.

"Great, I can't wait."

"Turner, who are you talking to?" He heard someone yell from the other end of the line.

"Listen, I gotta go, see you later mate." Alex spoke quickly.

"See you." Julian said, and heard Alex already addressing whoever it was that was yelling before.

"Hey, Jamie, guess who's-" And then the line cut off.

Julian texted all the guys and everybody seemed to be in, and then he made sure to save Alex's number.

And suddenly he realized that he felt okay for the first time in a long time, like everything is exactly how it's supposed to be. He didn't know weather it was the fight, the fact that he actually got enough sleep tonight, or just maybe it was because he couldn't get Alex out of his head.

As Julian stripped down to his underwear and lay on his belly with closed eyes, somewhere between reality and dream, all he saw was the way Alex's lips curved when he laughed, and how his cheeks redden, and how he pushes his hair behind his ear. And then Julian fell asleep, drowning in his thoughts.

When Julian woke up, it was already pretty late, and he realized that he'd spent almost the entire day sleeping. It felt like a waste, but then again, he also felt so real and present and truly awake and aware.

"shit.." he muttered as he glanced at the clock, quickly getting up and getting dressed.

Fab picked him up soon enough and they met all the other guys at The Plaza.

The place was big and pretty crowded, and finding a place to sit was proving to be quite difficult.

As Alex and the band jumped on stage, everyone was clapping their hands and whistling, and Julian just had to make a note of the way the left side of Alex's mouth curled up a little into a small half smile when he heard the applause.

"Hello New York! We're the Arctic Monkeys and it's great to see you all here." Alex glanced at Julian, and he smiled at him, giving him a wink. Then, they started playing.

They were fantastic performers, Julian could tell they weren't in it for anything other than the music, and he loved that. He regretted, then, that he's never had the chance to hear them before, he was definitely missing out.

The show was short, it only proceeded for about an hour, after which a sweaty, red faced Alex smiled, and said "Thank you." Into the microphone before getting the final applause from the crowd and then they all went offstage.

Some people started leaving, but Julian just sat there, finishing his beer. The guys were talking to each other, but Julian wasn't quite there with them. Instead, his attention went to the little slit of the backstage door, through which he could see Alex.

He was talking to his band mates, leaning his guitar on the wall while he was taking his jacket off. He laughed at something someone said, while putting a cigarette in his mouth, just letting it hang there, unlit.

And then their eyes met. Julian quickly averted his sight, looking down at his beer, that embarrassing feeling of being caught staring welling up in his chest. When he looked up, he saw Alex smiling, and Julian just burst out laughing, and so did Alex.

"Dude, what's with you?" Fab asked, but Julian was already half way towards Alex, who didn't even once break eye contact.

Even though the door was slightly open, Julian still politely knocked before slowly pushing it open.

"Hey guys. Mind if I hang with you?" He asked.

"Not at all." The guitarist said with such a look in his eyes that made it obvious he knew who Julian was.

"Thank you." Julian said politely, entering the room. "Have to say that you guys are extremely talented." He said, and a row of shy, quiet 'thank you's followed.

Julian then turned his attention to Alex. He was sweaty, and his hair was covering his face. He was still holding that unlit cigarette between his lips in a way that made Julian's heart skip a bit.

"I see you did go to the doctor then." Alex said, smiling lightly, gesturing to Julian's cast.

"Oh, yeah, Nick sorta made me."

"Alex, what the bloody hell did you do to the poor guy?" The drummer asked jokingly, and Alex's cheeks turned red. Julian chuckled and bumped Alex's shoulder with his.

Julian just couldn't keep looking at him like that, he might explode. And so, he took a lighter out of his pocket and lit Alex's cigarette.

"Uh, thanks Jules." Alex said, a little confused, taking a deep drag, then turning to grab a bottle of beer and take a swig. He then offered Julian the bottle.

"No, thanks, trying to lay off since..."Julian said, gesturing to his face.

"Suit yourself, mate." Alex said and shrugged. He looked obviously buzzed, which for some odd reason amused Julian. He was alternating between sipping his beer and taking drags of his cigarette, just talking to his band mates, and laughing.

Julian didn't talk much. He mostly just observed, and more specifically, he was observing Alex. And he really, really could write an entire book about his elegance, about every motion he made.

About his stupid fucking smile.

And then there was the way Alex looked at him. How when he glanced over, he'd always linger, making Julian's heartbeat accelerate, and for the life of him, he couldn't figure out just why the kid made him feel like that.

"Well, I'm going to get another drink." Alex said, heading to the bar.

"Can I join?" Julian asked, almost too eagerly, fighting the urge to slap himself.

"I'd like that." Alex said, turning to Julian with a blank face, and that look in his eye.

Julian glanced at the guys, and Fab was raising his eyebrow at him, then gestured to his phone. As Alex was asking the bartender for whatever he was asking for, Julian read the text message.

'We're heading home. You coming?'

He started typing.

'I'm gonna stay. You guys go, I'll get a ride with Alex and his boys.'

Fab shrugged his shoulders.

'As long as you're sure you'll be ok.'

Fab smiled at him, and Julian smiled back, then they were on their way out and the place was nearly empty.

"I wanna...." Alex said, "Couch." He pointed to the sofa in the corner of the room and Julian realized that the boy was drunk. Nonetheless, they both sat down on the couch.

"Don't you want to get back to your friends?" Julian asked, and Alex just looked at him for a few moments.

"Not yet. I want to be here." He finally said, and leaned back on the couch, in a pose that is probably not socially acceptable. Julian didn't mind, he thought drunk Alex was funny.

"How old are you, Jules?" Alex suddenly asked.

"I'm twenty six..." Julian answered, and noticed Alex was looking him up and down.

"You look younger." He commented, after what seemed like forever.

"Um, thank you, I guess?" Julian didn't know how be sober around drunk people.

"I'll be turning twenty in January." He announced. He was inching closer to Julian, turning to face him. He then stretched his arm out, and Julian could feel his fingers on his lips.

Like electricity, he thought, and his heart was racing, and he was just about to burn from the inside out. What the hell was Alex doing?

"Does it hurt?" He asked, brushing his finger on Julian's bottom lip, making him wince.

"Yeah, a little." Julian said. He didn't mind it right now; it was probably the farthest thing from his mind when Alex was touching his lips. Alex's eyes were focused on Julian's mouth; he didn't avert his sight, for what seemed like forever.

"Too bad." He was whispering, his body practically pressed against Julian's. His t-shirt was stretching out to the side against the sofa; just enough to reveal his collarbone, and Julian could just imagine himself kissing it.

Alex leaned in to whisper in Julian's ear, removing his fingers from Julian's lips, almost making him groan in agony, the lack of contact suddenly hurting.

"Is it alright if I hurt you a little more?" he brushed Julian's ear with his lips as he talked, and that was just about enough for Julian, it was the perfect moment for Alex to anything him.

All Julian managed was an urgent nod, before Alex slowly backed off, for just a moment, and then he was bringing his face to Julian's, softly brushing their lips together. At first, they were barely touching, and Julian felt like he was going to explode. Alex tasted like alcohol and smoke, and his lips were so soft, and his fingers were creeping their way to Julian's lower back, just barely touching his skin. Julian could never imagine him being so forward, he seemed so shy. But he was drunk, and what Julian was letting him do was probably wrong, but that was something for his rational mind to think about, later.

He can't possibly think rationally right now, with Alex pushing him back on the couch and starting to kiss him more fiercely and it fucking hurt, but he didn't care. He started kissing back now, putting his hand into Alex's mess of tangled hair.

And god, was it the best kiss he ever had.

At that moment, Alex's lips may have as well been the center of the entire universe.

Julian had to practically force himself not to moan when Alex put his hand on his chest and licked his lower lip, and where the hell did the kid learn this stuff.

But then, Alex bit Julian's lower lip, which would be a good thing at any other time.

"Ahh." He winced as he softly pushed Alex away, and put his fingers on his lips. He was bleeding again, really lightly, but it hurt enough to stop him.

Parting with Alex's lips hurt more.

"Oh, shit, I'm sorry..." Alex said, grabbing a tissue, softly dabbing it on Julian's lip.

"It's, uhm..." Julian cleared his throat, finding it difficult to talk for whatever reason. "It's okay." He was looking into Alex's eyes.

More than okay.

His mouth was still practically buzzing with the feeling of Alex's lips against his, and at that moment, he just wanted him so bad that he could barely think.

"Maybe..." Julian pondered weather he should say what he was thinking, but since all rationality was thrown out the window anyway, he just went for it. "I heard people suck on wounds sometimes, spit is supposed to make it better..."

Alex didn't need any convincing; he was already sucking lightly on Julian's lower lip, and all Julian could do was throw his head back, and force his body to keep his blood in his head.

What the hell was he doing?

When Alex stopped, Julian's heart almost dropped.

"Any better?" Alex asked, and Julian just nodded, trying to gather himself for a while. He's kissed guys before, but never like this.

God, Alex was drunk. Julian shouldn't have let him do that.

Alex's arm was still around Julian's waist, his fingers barely brushing the skin of Julian's hip.

"Jules, why are you so nervous?" Alex asked, and he was dead serious, and he didn't seem as wasted as he probably was at that moment.

"I... Just... You're drunk and you're doing things you might regret, Alex." Julian explained, and all Alex did was lean into him, warm and comfortable, and like anything Julian could hope for.

"Trust me, I won't." He said, and Julian could feel his breath on his neck, warm and wet, and his mind was going other places, imagining Alex kissing his neck and whatever might come after that had they had some privacy.

Julian tried to wiggle out of Alex's touch, quickly getting up.

"What's wrong?" Alex asked, still sitting on the couch.

"Alex, I have to go home. I'm sorry." Julian stretched his arm out to help Alex get up, and Alex grabbed it, getting to his feet. "Go back to the guys. I don't want you here alone-"

"Why are you acting so strange?" He snapped, getting closer to Julian, who just scratched the back of his head, not knowing how things got so bad so fast.

"Didn't you like it?" Alex then asked quietly.

"Why did you do it?" Julian shot back, fumbling with his cast awkwardly. He was so confused, he didn't know what he wanted anymore, he had no idea what just happened, and Alex was being drunk and stupid and angry.

"I just... I just wanted to try it, why are you getting so mad?" He spoke, his voice quiet and sad, and all Julian wanted to do at that moment was to just hug him.

"You can't just do that sort if thing, Alex." Julian said blankly. He didn't even know why he said that; he knew he loved everything Alex just did to him yet he couldn't help being protective.

"Well, I'm sorry. It was nice meeting you." He said with a poker face, on his way back to his band mates.

"Alex, please wait..." Julian said, following him, but before he knew it, the door was slammed in his face, and he could only catch a glimpse of the confused faces of Alex's friends.

And it seemed like, in that moment, this is what his life has gotten to. He was getting doors slammed in his face constantly lately. Nothing was working out for him, and he was confused, and sad, and most of all, he was lonely.

And he stood there for a while, thinking about what had just happened, about what could've happened, and about how the fuck he was going to get home.

And so he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, flipping it open and dialing Nick's number.

"Hello? Jules?" He asked, sounding a bit confused.

"Nick, how much did you have to drink tonight?" Julian asked, mentally slapping himself for everything he's making his friends do for him lately.

"Barely any. Why?"

"Listen, I couldn't get a ride with Alex, and I feel like shit and I am going to get myself into trouble. Please help me. I really need to talk." Julian had never opened up like that, but he knew that something bad will happen if he stays there.
He'd drink, for sure, and who knows what might happen after that.

"Hey, calm down, I'll be right there, don't do anything stupid please." He was speaking urgently, and he was clearly worried.

"Thank you. I'm really sorry about this." Julian said, feeling like his chest weighed a ton. He hated himself for making Nick do stuff like that.

"Hey, it's no sweat." Nick said, and hung up.

Julian went back to that couch in the corner of the room and sat down, with his eyes closed and his left hand on his face, softly rubbing his temples. Why did he feel so horrible?

He felt like he might fucking cry, but he couldn't, and he didn't know what he was getting so worked up about. Maybe he's bipolar or something, who knows.

Maybe he needs to go get checked. But he knew he wouldn't.

Why did he say those things to Alex? And why did Alex get so mad? And what would Alex tell his friends?

Julian hated himself in that moment. He just got kissed by the boy he likes, and it was perfect, but he was mean to him and pushed him away for absolutely no reason and he didn't know how to fix it.

He didn't have the energy to fix it anyway.

Feeling like he was being swallowed by the couch, he started thinking he might never get up, he started wishing the couch could just envelop him so that he wouldn't have to deal with anything ever again.

"Julian?" His eyes snapped open, and Nick was standing right in front of him, looking down at him. "What's going on?" He asked, and Julian just rubbed his face with his hands, his eyes closed.

"I feel like fucking disappearing." He said, barely audible, he wasn't even sure Nick heard him. He hoped he didn't.

He felt Nick's hand on his shoulder, and then he was crouching down in front of him. Julian glanced at him through his hair. He looked so worried, like Julian was some kind of lost puppy or something and he just hated that he made Nick feel like that.
It never happened before- he'd never had a breakdown in front of any of the guys before. He reckoned they knew something was going on with him lately, but they have never actually seen it (save for the bruises from the night before).

He's actually reached out for help for the first time, and he wasn't even sure it was helping because he felt so bad about doing it, like he was being a burden.

And then, he stretched his arms out, and put his head on the shoulder of a very confused Nick, who was patting his back. He was holding onto Nick as if he was holding onto his sanity.

"Please take me home." Julian said into Nick's shoulder, before Nick pulled away and they both walked to his car.

Nick didn't put any music on the ride home. Maybe he thought it would be inappropriate, or maybe he wanted to leave it like an open window in case Julian wanted to talk.

Julian leaned his head on the cold glass of the window and closed his eyes. It was soothing, his body was burning, but the window was cooling him down, the glass cold and relaxing.

It was almost like therapy.

He could feel Nick glancing at him every once in a while, and he only spoke when Nick parked the car in front of Julian's place.

"Nick?" He asked in a low voice, not moving from the position he was in.

"Yeah?"

"I know I ask a lot of you, but could you please stay with me for a while?" Julian asked, knowing that he just couldn't be alone right now.

"What, you thought I was going to leave you alone?" Nick asked, borderline offended, and they both got out of the car and made their way to Julian's flat.

The first thing Julian did once they entered the apartment was take off his jacket and pull off his T-shirt, throwing them both on the ground. The second thing he did was fall face down on the couch.

He felt Nick sit down beside him.

"Jules, what's going on with you?" Julian didn't answer for a long time. How could you possibly even answer that?

"Thing is I have no fucking idea what's going on with me." Julian said, turning to lay on his back. He closed his eyes.

"I wonder if I look as bad as I feel." He said quietly.

"You look completely beaten down." Nick said, and Julian decided he's not going to take offence at that.

"That's because I am." He said, "You know, Nick, I've been getting really bad lately. I have these blackouts, you see, I forget things, and suddenly I feel so down, like the ground is swallowing me, I can't even explain it." He sat up, turning to face Nick.

"Why haven't you told anyone?"

"Because I feel like a burden lately." Julian explained.

"God, Jules, friends are not just for drinking and having fun, they're there to help you through shit like that. You should never feel like a burden, I wish you'd just tell us stuff like that, it would make it much easier to help you, you know." Nick said, kicking his shoes of, and pulling his knees to his chest.

"It's just that I don't even know how to talk about it. Something's wrong, I just don't know what. And it kind of seems like there may not be a reason at all."

"And that's okay. Things like that happen for no reason sometimes. Is it that hard to just call someone up and say 'Hey, I'm not okay.'?"

"Harder than you'd think." Julian said, sighing. He felt a little better, Nick was always looking out for him. They sat in silence for a short while, and Julian didn't really know what to say.

"You know, something happened tonight." He finally said.

"What happened?"

"Alex kissed me." Julian said, and he figured that Nick didn't quite see the problem.

"So what, we kiss." Nick said.

"No, we like, made out." Julian said, his arms crossed over his chest.

"Oh." Nick said, and it was obvious that he was at least somewhat uncomfortable with the subject. "I, uh, didn't know you were into guys." He then said, a little awkwardly.

"Yeah, me neither, but when I think about him I feel like my mind is on the brink of going supernova." He explained, and Nick chuckled.

"Did you like it then?"

"Yeah, it was amazing, but I ruined everything." Julian said, feeling his chest fill with regret again.

"What'd you do?" Nick asked.

"He bit my lip and I started bleeding so I pushed him away, and then I told him that he can't just do things like that. He got offended and went back to the band, making sure to slam the door in my face." Julian explained.

"Well, Jules, I get him. One minute you're willingly kissing him and then you get mad at it. That's frustrating."

"I know, I know! I don't know why I said it... He was drunk, and it just felt wrong to let him do that. I really like him, you know? I didn't want things to go any further."

"I think you did the right thing." Nick said, "And trust me, he'll come around. He likes you too." He said, and Julian furrowed his eyebrows.

"How can you tell?"

"You really don't see the way he looks at you? You're so clueless sometimes, Jules." Nick said in an amused tone and Julian punched his arm lightly.

"Thanks, Nick. You know, I really appreciate everything you do for me. I'm sorry I'm such a mess lately."

"Nah, don't be sorry for that. That's just another part of you. Everybody has a rough time every once in a while, you just need to get through it." Nick said, putting his arm around Julian's shoulders, and Julian let himself lean into it, relaxing his muscles.

He quickly realized how tired he was, and how comfortable he was.

"Nick... I'm tired..." He said, already half asleep, and Nick got up, grabbing Julian's hand and forcing him up.

"Don't fall asleep on the couch, its not good for your back." Nick said.

"Yeah... right...." Julian said, too tired to fathom anything. He then leaned forward to hug Nick. "Thanks, man. I love you."

"I love you too buddy." Nick said as they pulled away, and Julian made his way to the bedroom.

"Julian?" Nick asked for his attention, holding the front door open. Julian turned around to look at him.

"Trust me, you'll feel better tomorrow." He said with a smile, before closing the door behind him and locking it with the spare key.

Julian fell on his bed and almost instantly fell into a deep sleep.

***

It's been a few days since what happened with Alex happened. He didn't call Julian, he didn't even text, and Julian didn't even know weather he was still in New York.

Some days, Julian felt okay. Others, he didn't know what was wrong with him. He kept thinking about what had happened, and how much he regretted what he did. Every time his phone buzzed, he hoped that maybe it would be Alex, but it never was.

He wanted to call him, he wanted to hear his voice, but he couldn't for the life of him muster up the courage to dial his number.

"Jules, you okay?" Fab asked, knocking him out of his thoughts. Julian was sitting on the couch in the hallway of their studio. He was drinking a cup of coffee and, apparently, staring blankly into space for quite a while now.

"No, yeah, I'm fine." He said, obviously distracted.

"You just said no yeah." Fab flopped beside him, as the other guys joined.

"I did?" Julian furrowed his eyebrows. He was so confused.

"Dude, what is up with you lately? It's because of that kid, isn't it? Just give him a call." Fab said and Julian angrily put his cup on the coffee table.

"Jesus, Nick, you told them?" Nick shrugged his shoulders, as Julian kicked his foot lightly. "He was really upset, I don't want to call him. I'll just make it worse."

"You're making it worse by not calling him, I bet he thinks you're still mad at him." Nick said, and Julian sighed. He didn't want to talk about this anymore.

They had their session, even recorded a couple of songs, and Julian felt pretty good about the new material, but on that particular day, he just wasn't having it, and at about 8 pm he asked the guys if they're okay with calling it for the day.

"Jules, where are you going? Don't you want a ride?" Albert called behind him.

"No man, it's okay. I need some fresh air, I'm gonna go for a walk." He said, and exited the studio to the cold streets of New York City. He just walked for a while, in no particular direction, until he realized where he really wanted to be.

He made his way, then, to that same bench in the dark alley north of central park where he met Alex. He didn't know why he was so drawn to that place, but he felt like that was just the place to be tonight. He sat down on the cold metal, and lit a cigarette, inhaling deeply.

He didn't know what he was thinking, then, he didn't think he was thinking anything at all, actually. He didn't enjoy smoking with his left hand as much, but smoking with the cast on was too difficult.

He couldn't for the life of him figure out just what was wrong with his brain, and he decided to just let it go. His eyes were closed and his head was leaned back, and the contrast between the cold air and the cigarette smoke was burning his lungs. He liked the feeling.

Somebody sat beside him, then, and he didn't bother looking at the person. It wouldn't have bothered him if it was one of the guys, or if it was a gangster who was going to stab him. Julian was having his own peaceful moment right now, and nothing would ruin it.

"Hey." Julian's eyes snapped open and he glanced to his right.

"Alex?" He was sitting beside him. His hair was shorter than before; he must've been to the barber. He was wearing a pair of jeans and a leather jacket. He looked good.

Julian was confused. He didn't know what to say, and he didn't know what to feel. Alex was periodically glancing at him, then dropping his gaze down. His cheeks were red. Eventually, he put his hands in his pockets and kept his eyes on his shoes.

"Listen, I'm sorry about the other night. I know you didn't... Like I know you're not into me that way or anything, I'm not either; I was just being drunk and stupid. I'm not usually like that." Alex explained, and Julian threw his cigarette on the ground and stomped it with a deep sigh.

He wanted to talk to Alex so much the past few days, but now, that he finally had the chance, he didn't know what to say.

"Look I get that you're mad-"

"Alex, what are you even doing here?" Julian finally asks, and he could swear he didn't mean to sound so angry.

"I've been going here every night since I got to New York." He said, and they sat in silence for a little while.

"Look, mate, I-" Julian turned to him and grabbed his face with his hands.

"Alex could you please shut up?" He asked gently, and Alex's cheeks turned a shade of bright red. He nodded. Julian let himself just look at him for a little while, brushing his left thumb against Alex's defined cheekbone. He was truly beautiful. Julian's heart was beating faster and faster, and at that moment he didn't mind anything. Alex was just sitting there, blushing, letting Julian touch his face. He let one hand brush Alex's hair out of his face, the other still caressing him.

That would have been a perfect moment to freeze in time, Julian thought to himself

When Alex dropped his gaze (god, he was so shy and adorable), Julian lifted his chin up with his fingers.

"What are you-"

"Shut up." Julian said, before kissing Alex on his forehead. "I was never mad at you, I was mad at myself. You met me in a really confusing time in my life." He was practically whispering against Alex's forehead, his left hand brushing the back of Alex's head.

He smelled so good Julian might've passed out right there and then, completely intoxicated by his smell.

"It's okay. A self destructive maniac is the new sexy, right?" Alex said, making Julian laugh. He pulled away, just enough to look at Alex's smile.

"My god, you're perfect." Julian said, before deciding to allow himself to just take whatever he wanted at that moment.

He brought his face closer to Alex's until they were nose to nose, and then he just went for it. He kissed Alex gently, snaking his arm around his waist, and letting the other linger on the nape of his neck. Alex practically melted under his touch, pressing his body against Julian's and wrapping his arms around his neck.

Julian thought he might actually faint, he couldn't even explain how Alex made him feel. He was light headed, like he's been hyperventilating.

Alex's lips were so soft and he let out a quiet sigh of pleasure that just made Julian's stomach turn. Kissing didn't hurt his lip as much as it did a few days ago.

The kiss was sweet, and gentle, and made Julian feel a fluttering in his chest. As he pulled away, he made sure to leave his arm around Alex's waist, gently stroking his side.

"Are you okay with me doing that?" Julian finally asked.

"Definitely." Alex said. He was blushing, which Julian thought was adorable.

And then they just talked- about the show, about anything and everything, for what seemed like forever, and before they knew it, Alex was laying with his head on Julian's lap, looking up at him.

He was laughing at something Julian said, crossing his arms over his chest to keep warm. They had such a great time, and Julian just couldn't help the feeling that if they part, they won't get another chance like that.

He didn't care that it was late, or that he has to go to the studio early the next morning, all that mattered was being there, right now, with Alex.

He's not going to be here forever.

"Alex," Julian said, gently stroking his hair.

"Hmm?" Alex responded, his eyes closed and a soft smile playing on his lips.

"When are you going back to England?" Julian asked, trying not to let any bit of neediness slip into the question.

"Tomorrow." He answered with a deep sigh, the smile slowly fading off his face. Julian brushed some hair away from Alex's forehead.

Tomorrow.

This is going to be hard.

"I'm going to miss you a lot, you know." Julian said, stroking Alex's hair softly.

"I'll miss you too." Alex said, and sat up, letting out a deep breath. "I'll be back, though. We're planning on doing some recording in New York."

"Promise to keep in touch with me." Julian said, and Alex put his hand on his chest.

"Cross my heart." Alex said, before glancing at the watch on his wrist. "Listen Jules... I have to go, it's getting late."

"I see..." Julian said, before wrapping his arms around Alex (who was trying to get up), and pulling him down on his lap, making him laugh.

"Come on, I really need to go." He turned his head towards Julian, who kept quiet for a few moments, before shortly kissing Alex on his lips, and tightening his grip around him. Alex returned the gesture, kissing the top of Julian's head.

And slowly, Julian let his arms fall and Alex got up.

"Can I ask you something before I go?" Alex asked, his hands in his pockets. Julian nodded. "Don't hurt yourself like that again please." He asked, taking a pen out of his pocket and scribbling 'get well' with a heart beside it on Julian's cast.

"Cross my heart." Julian said, and they smiled at each other.

"Bye for now, Julian." Alex said, putting a cigarette between his lips, lighting it.

"See you." Julian said, watching Alex walk on into the darkness, the smoke he exhales enveloping him.

And then he sat there, on that cold bench just thinking, or maybe he wasn't thinking anything at all.

He can't wait to see Alex again.

And as he got up, lighting himself a smoke and making the way to his place, he was okay.