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After months of living in a dim, dull fugue, you've remembered what it is to feel, you know what it is to be alive. When you look at Annie and she smiles, or when you realise you have more reasons now to smile than you'd let yourself have in a very long time, or even when you can't stop staring at Gene because of whatever impossibly problematic thing he's just said and laugh just because you can? There's no hesitation, no regret – and maybe you're wrong about that and there should be. You know you've made the right choice.

There's static from the radios, sometimes, but what at first happened rarely enough as is, happens less and less as time goes by. The television stops turning on all by itself and if you have to leave the phone connected if you want to get any calls. You think you know what all all of that is supposed to mean, but you don't want to think about it, because right now you've got more important things to concern yourself with.

You don't want forever. You're happy now, where you are, when you are. You plan on making the best of it.

More time passes, the way that it should. 1974 arrives with little fanfare, but you hadn't really expected anything else, and before you know it you've been here one whole year. Sometimes, you think that dating Annie is everything you ever could have wanted, but maybe that's just because you've been lucky so far and you've done nothing to screw it up; and you should have screwed it up by now, but seeing as you haven't, maybe that just means that this really was meant to be. Sometimes, you think that Gene respects you and your ideals more and more, but he judges you harshly whenever you slip up. That's fair, it's all fair, because it's not like you aren't still always judging him in return.

You make some changes. You buy things like albums and figurines, the stuff that will be important collectibles one day. You think about something Maya said, once, and start keeping a journal. It takes you no time at all to fill that book, and you think of some other things that Maya said, so very long ago, in your past that happens to be the future. You move from that thing onto the next.

You don't know what it is you do, but you're starting to see the cracks. It's 1975 now and the more time that passes by, the easier it should all be, but instead, the harder it's become to make it through each day. Annie's grown distant, and when she does break up with you, it hurts – but no, you never see it coming, even when you really should've known better. Gene buys all your drinks that night, and for the whole next week, tells you to man up, it's not the end of the world, there are other birds in the sea. You know it's his way of being there for you when you need it, without you asking, but you still remind him that he's mixing his metaphors, and he smiles, and you don't cry.

You know it's wrong that you relish this closeness that has been wrought with Gene, all because Annie thought you'd be better off as friends. The pain isn't what it should have been, but even if you're just seeing the positive instead of the negative, you doubt that it will last.

You've lived it again and again, and that part always stays the same.