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Room on Fire

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Albert slumped into their apartment behind Julian, who was shuffling along, hanging onto the walls for support.

“Man… tha wuz some wild party,’ Albert slurred.
“I gotta take a piss,” Julian slurred back.
“Whatever man; I’m gonna try to find something on tv.”
Albert made his way to the kitchen, before going into the living room, to grab a Heineken out of the fridge. Meanwhile, Julian’s bathroom visit was clearly audible.
“Gross man,’ Albert whined before he took a big gulp of alcohol.
“Whatever, man,” Julian slurred from the bathroom.
“WHERE’S THE FUCKING LAST HEINEKEN?!” Julian yelled from the kitchen.
“I’m drinking it yo,” Albert said after finishing a second mouthful.
“What the fuck I was saving that shit motherfucker,” Julian growled, walking towards Albert.

Julian tripped, hand stretched out towards the bottle, on an empty bottle left on the floor. He landed with a loud thump. Albert giggled.
“Fuck,” Julian mumbled.

Albert got off the couch to help him up. Julian hadn’t even tried to move and lied there motionless on his bloated stomach. Albert took a moment to take in the sight of his band mate laying there, his breaths causing his diaphragm to rise and fall in a steady pattern. He felt his own diaphragm tighten for a moment until he let out a gasp of breath, releasing the tension but replacing it with butterfly sensations. “Jesus, I’ve only ever gotten this feeling from looking at one of my girlfriends before…’ Albert said under his breath.
A muffled “The fuck are you talking about?” came from Julian, still on the dirty carpeted floor.
Albert snapped out of his thoughts at the sound.

“Nothing,” he awkwardly replied before bending down to help Julian up.

He strained to roll Julian over on his back. A sickly mixture of stale cigarettes and alcohol scents emanated from Julian’s sticky skin.

“Man you’re so fucking heavy,” Albert groaned, taking deep breaths from the effort.

“Shut up,” Julian protested. “Help me up.”

Julian’s recently dyed black greasy hair was strewn out every which way on the floor, covering bits of his oily forehead. He was a mess, but hey, Albert knew he wasn’t looking much better off.
The curly haired guitarist took a moment before bending down again and grabbing Julian’s tan hands. A jolt ran through his back from the sensation of gripping onto Julian’s large hands. Albert tried his best to ignore it and pulled the singer into a sitting up position.

“C’mon man, get on your fucking feet, you’re too goddamn heavy for me,” Albert groaned.
“Ugh,” Julian groaned back, struggling to get up from the floor.

The back of his dirty t-shirt rose up his back, revealing greasy tan skin. Albert glanced at the singer’s skin for a moment before relenting, with a sigh. He reached down again and held onto Julian’s hands and used more force this time to finally lug Julian up.
“Thanks man,” Julian mumbled, stumbling forward slightly unbalanced, his face inches away from Albert’s. “N…no problem,” Albert stuttered, with a flush to rival the faces of the drunken partygoers hours ago.

Julian didn’t seem to notice in his stupor. The singer had always been a heavy drinker, although lately had been drinking more than Albert had ever known him to. He was starting to worry for him, but still refused to say anything. Besides, he had enough of his own issues going on to be a hypocrite.

Albert sat down next to Julian who had already plopped down on the tattered couch. Julian threw the empty bottle of Heineken he had just finished on the ground with a droopy eyed scowl. Heh, it’s like he second-hand kissed me, Albert thought, blushing. Fuck what is up with me lately? He looked over at Julian who was staring at him with a dopey grin on his face.

“The fuck are you looking at me like that for, man?” “It’s just…uh um… shut up motherfucker!” Albert retorted. “You…you looked kind of cute… changing expressions so often,” Julian slurred half coherently. Now it was Julian’s turn to be flustered. “Wh…what did you just say man?” Albert stuttered in disbelief.

“It…it was nothing,” Julian flushed, looking down at his feet. “I don’t think it was nothing,” Albert replied moving forward towards the flustered singer. “It WAS nothing!” Julian retorted, leaning in towards him. “Oh yeah?” Albert teased huskily enough to startle himself for a split second before recovering to lean in even more. “That’s right,” Julian slurred, mere inches from Albert’s scruffy face. The guitarist’s heart began to race while he stared at Julian’s pouty lips longingly.
Julian turned his head slightly and closing his eyes slowly, put his hands on the sides of Albert’s face. Albert’s eyes widened with surprise as he took in Julian’s musty scent. His messy hair. His long eyelashes. Those full lips. He closed his eyes, powerless to whatever happened next.
Julian kissed Albert almost aggressively, their mouths pressed together with much force. He opened his mouth slightly and pressed his lips against Albert’s bottom lip before going in for a fuller kiss again.

They had kissed many times before, on or off stage, in public or in private, but never like this. There was a longing in this that was nothing like the quick pecks on the lips or cheeks they normally gave to each other or other members of the band. Albert had never felt this much sensation in the pit of his stomach kissing Julian. He was confused and a little scared. He never thought he wasn’t anything but entirely straight his entire life. Then again he would find himself staring at Julian a lot when he wasn’t paying attention or sleeping in close quarters early on in their touring career… But he never thought much of it. Or at least he didn’t think he did. He could usually push those thoughts away soon after they began especially by thinking about some hot chick or his current blonde bombshell girlfriend.

All at once, Julian stopped and pushed away from Albert quickly. Albert opened his eyes to see Julian repeatedly punching himself in the head.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Julian growled as each blow connected to his head. “I’m so fucking sorry man why the fuck did I do that Jesus fucking Christ,” Julian whined. He sounded angry at himself but also sad, Albert noted. Albert took Julian by the wrist to stop him from hitting himself more. “Don’t hurt yourself, man,” Albert said while holding onto Julian’s wrists until he felt him go limp in his grip.

“I need to punish myself,” Julian groaned, trying in vain to break out of Albert’s grip.

“No, man, I fucking see you hurting yourself enough. On stage with all the fucking Heinekens you’ve been chugging down like water. All the times you hit yourself on stage with a lot more force than is just a fucking stage act. God, we’ve all been worried about you, I’VE been so goddamn worried about you but I was too pussy to say anything because you’re the singer and it’s not like I haven’t been partying either but Jesus Christ Jules you’re being way too hard on yourself. I’m tired of sitting back and watching you fucking destroy yourself,” Albert said.

Julian looked at Albert, his eyes wide and glistening. “You mean you’re not fucking pissed off at me for kissing you?” he asked incredulously. “Of course not, you idiot,” Albert replied with tears brimming in his eyes.

Julian sniffed and some tears he desperately tried to suppress rolled down his greasy cheeks, leaving thin trails on either side of his bloated face. Albert finally released his grip on Julian’s wrist and wiped his tears away gingerly.

“I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with me,” Julian sobbed. “Shh…” Albert cooed. “It’s okay,” Albert held onto Julian and began rocking him gently. “It’s okay,” he repeated, softly.

Julian didn’t protest. He silently sobbed and hiccupped while Albert held him in his arms. Whispers of reassurance that Julian was all right wavered in the air as Albert made it into a mantra for the pained vocalist.

After awhile, Julian stopped crying. He grabbed Albert’s arm and rasped, “Hey, I’m okay now, man.”

Albert reluctantly let Julian go. They sat in silence for what felt like forever until Julian spoke up.

“I think I’m ready to go to bed, man,” he said.

He sounded exhausted. “Yeah, good idea. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow then,” Albert replied softly.

“Yeah…night,” Julian replied as he stumbled off the couch towards his side of the apartment where his messy bed was waiting for him.

Albert watched him struggle to make his way down the hallway until he was inside his room and shut the door. He suddenly felt a lump of sadness in his throat being away from the singer. The guitarist wanted to go into Julian’s room but was afraid. Albert got up and shuffled to his own bedroom and plopped down on his relatively neat bed, staring up at the apartment ceiling. Suddenly it hit him how tired he was and he allowed himself to drift off while the night’s event played on a loop in his head until he fell asleep.