Here we go...
Song of choice for this chapter: Gap by The Kooks
Julian nudged the front door open with his shoulder, carrying a somewhat heavy box of belongings. “Only four boxes?” He asked Alex, his new roommate.
The fluffy haired boy carrying his guitar nodded. “Yeah. I'm not one for hoarding things I don't need. Kinda a bother, really.”
Julian lifted his nose up to show he understood. Entering the second bedroom with a bit of struggle, he dropped the box onto the floor carefully.
As Alex put his guitar down next to the closet, Julian folded his arms.
“About rent… How much do I give you?” Alex asked.
“Half and half, since it's only us two.” The other replied. “But don't worry about it too much. Have you ever lived in an apartment?”
Alex nodded. “I used to live with me mum but then university came along.”
The word “university” made Julian reminisce about school abroad with Albert. He met basically all the members during his time in some sort of school. Julian guessed it was the same case with Alex.
“Cool. Well then, I guess I'll let you get settled. If you need any help I'll be out somewhere.” Julian said with a friendly smile.
As the older boy exited the room, Alex smiled back. When Julian asked him to move in as roommates, it was very sudden. Alex, of course, thought of his life in Sheffield first and kindly declined. But the thought of living in New York was always nice and plus he'd be able to hang out with the friend he looked up to ever since he was a teen. Somewhere after the release of The Age Of The Understatement, Alex said he'd be moving in a few months. Surely enough, he made his way to New York City.
Julian exited the room that was now occupied by Alex. He closed the door behind his back and looked around.
“He's probably hungry…” Julian thought to himself. Alex did leave the airport without anything to eat. He was too eager when he saw Julian.
After searching around in the fridge and several cabinets, he looked down in defeat. “I can't cook for shit.” He muttered, although there was plenty of food. He just didn't know how to make it. A lightbulb went off inside Julian’s head. “Pizza. New York style pizza.”
After looking at the closed door behind him, Julian nodded. “Yeah. He'll probably want that.”
He knocked on the door and after Alex let out a “yes?” response, Julian let himself in.
“Hey, I'm no good of a cook so maybe you'd like to go out later?” Julian shamelessly admitted, figuring Alex wouldn't really care.
“Yeah, sure! What time is it right now?”
Julian looked at his wristwatch. “5:42.” He answered.
“We'd better get going then. I finished unpacking anyways.” Alex said, passing by Julian and walking to the entrance door.
“Well, that was fast… It’s dinnertime, though, it's gonna be packed with teens who can't cook on their own.”
Alex shrugged. The both of them were used to crowds. “Lead the way.” He said, opening the door.
The two boys walked out of the apartment complex and headed down to a pizza place nearby.
“So uh, what’dya wanna do tomorrow?” Julian asked, trying to bring up some conversation. “I could show you some of the city if you'd like.”
Alex looked up, trying to think of an answer. “I don't know… You know more about this place than me.”
“Yeah…” Julian chuckled. “I guess you're right about that. Do you like the outdoors? ‘Cuz I could bring you to Central Park.” He suggested before noticing the distinctive scent of freshly made pizza in the distance.
Alex smiled in approval. “Sure.”
Julian placed the box of pizza on the kitchen counter and opened it. The steam lingering inside escaped its container, thus creating a great smell that filled the kitchen.
“Ah, that looks really good! Smells really good too…” Alex said in anticipation. He forgot the last time he had New York pizza -- if he even had it before.
Julian opened the refrigerator and pulled out two Red Stripe beers. “Ever had one?” He asked the other while giving it to him.
Alex shook his head and carefully took it from Julian’s hands. “Is it good?”
“Yeah. Try it.” Julian replied, grabbing a bottle opener from the counter and pushed open his roommate's beverage, then opening his own.
Alex studied the label then took a sip. “It's good.”
Julian nodded with a smile on his face. “Now, time to dig into this pizza, huh? Grab a plate.” He opened one of the cabinets, got a plate and put a slice of pizza on it. Alex did the same. The two headed towards the couch and turned on the tv.
The remainder of the night was eating the pizza they ordered, drinking Julian’s favorite beer, and watching late night tv. Alex enjoyed the food he was provided with much more than he thought he would. New York City was much different from Sheffield and it would take some time for him to get used to it, especially when the only person he was close to was Julian and he was only acquaintances with the other members of The Strokes. He would get used to it, though. And he would enjoy it.
A while later, after Julian’s fixed gaze on the tv faded away, he noticed Alex fast asleep on the other end of the couch.
A small huff of amusement came out of Julian’s nose.
“Figures.” He mumbled.
The boy who was awake headed over to the closet, opened it and grabbed a pink blanket. He walked back over to Alex and draped it over him.
Julian grew a small but kind smile, noticing how peaceful Alex looked. His mouth was open and he was breathing, but no noise came out. Julian noticed Alex's eyes and how they were carefully and delicately shut. It was cute. The entire view of Alex asleep was cute.
Julian felt a rush of heat fill up his cheeks and quickly looked away, realizing it was kind of creepy to be watching his new roommate while he was sleeping.
“What if he's uncomfortable…? Should I bring him to his bed? Should I wake him up?” Julian thought to himself. Alex's position almost called for a sore neck the next morning.
Julian wasn't very comfortable touching Alex in this situation, so he just let the younger boy sleep.
After turning off the tv and cleaning off the coffee table, Julian headed to bed.
I chose the color of the blanket for a reason. Can anyone figure out why? :D
Song of choice for this chapter: Glasgow by Catfish And The Bottlemen
Alex woke up in an uncomfortable position on the couch. It was daylight out and Julian wasn’t there with him. He must’ve fallen asleep after dinner.
“Shit.” He mumbled to himself.
After rubbing his eyes, Alex pulled out his phone from a crevice of the couch to check the time. Almost 10:30. He got up and quietly walked over to Julian’s bedroom door with the pink blanket wrapped around his shoulders. Alex knocked but soft enough to not scare Julian.
Alex could hear a faint groan coming from inside the room then something heading towards him. Julian opened the door. He looked at Alex and leaned on the doorframe, smiling.
“Morning. What’s up?”
Alex looked at what Julian was wearing. His shirt had a Star Wars vintage comic cover on it, and he was only wearing boxers for pants. Alex felt embarrassed, wondering if Julian was comfortable wearing his underwear in front of him. He closed his eyes and mentally shook his head to get it out of the clouds. Once he started focusing again, his gaze directed to Julian’s.
“We’re going to Central Park later, right?”
“Oh, yeah… We are.” Julian confirmed. He almost forgot about it. “What time is it?”
“10:30. When do you wanna go?”
“Hmm. How about right now?”
Alex nodded his head. “Sure.”
After rubbing his arms with his hands, Julian gave a small smile and headed back into his room to get into something more polite.
Alex opened the door to his room and proceeded to do the same. He didn't bother with a shower, figuring Julian wouldn't mind. Hell, his hair sometimes looked like he rolled around in a Burger King kitchen and never washed it in weeks.
Alex rummaged around in his closet until he found a random black scoop neck shirt and a hoodie, then switched it with the shirt he wore the night before. It was kind of chilly outside, but not too bad.
He walked out of his room to find Julian waiting at the door. He was wearing a long coat over a black and white striped shirt that complimented his pale colored jeans. Julian’s style did like to change.
“Classy.” Alex said, raising an eyebrow.
Julian rolled his eyes while chuckling softly and opened the door. “Thanks.”
The two were dropped off by a cab near Central Park and decided to walk the rest of the way. Julian never bought a car for himself and Alex didn't understand why. He always seemed like an “on the go” person considering his work, plus he seemed to be around in general.
As they walked around the park, Alex paid attention to the trees. They were starting to turn orange and yellow. He smiled when a sense of peacefulness entered his mind. It was the beginning of Fall.
“You've been quiet,” Julian said, hands in his coat pockets. “Something on your mind?”
“Nah, just looking… It's very pretty here.”
“Yeah, it is. I'll come here if I'm bored sometimes. To think of lyrics and other music… Stuff.”
Alex nodded. This new atmosphere did seem like a source of inspiration to him.
The presence of silence went by the two as they both started studying the scenery. Alex looked at the green grass, the pond in the distance, people walking around just like him and Julian… He would write lyrics down, considering he started writing again since the end of summer. Unfortunately, Alex didn't bring his book.
Neither did Julian. Ever since First Impressions Of Earth came out, some of the band decided to go their separate ways to make solo music. Simply, they drifted away. It wasn't like they didn't want to make music anymore, even at the moment they were making more. The Strokes never broke up in their eyes. They just needed a break. Julian used this break and thought of something on his own. It would sound very different from the Strokes’ rock n’ roll themed music. It was more electronic and experimental. Experimental was the perfect word for Julian’s ideas.
Boredom started to tick in Julian’s mind. He already knew most of the scenery. Wanting to look at something else, he turned his gaze to the right, where Alex was walking. He noticed that the small tufts of brown hair he met once were starting to grow longer. It was kind of an odd thing to observe just as friends but he was still curious about Alex. Julian also sensed growing maturity when Alex moved in. Yes, he was still a young kid, but not as young as he was when the Arctic Monkeys debuted.
Julian’s brain started moving thought to thought about Alex. His changes, his appearance and just memories of the past which wasn't long ago.
The other boy continued to look around, not realizing he was being stared at. When he realized how quiet the walk was, he looked to his left and locked eyes with Julian. Julian’s eyes widened and quickly looked away, flustered. Alex felt his cheeks heat up too.
“It’s nothing, it’s nothing. Just thought how cool it was to see you so excited about this place.” Julian partially lied.
Alex felt some kind of disappointment, and yet he didn’t understand why. “Oh.” He said, thinking the other could’ve said more.
Julian put his hands in his pockets. He tried to think of something to say that would get rid of the current awkward situation. It was Sunday today, right?
“Hey, uh... Have you ever watched American football before?”
“I've seen some. But not really.” Alex answered.
“Then… How about we grab some stuff from the store and watch a game? It’s on at four.”
Alex shrugged. “I'd feel bad leaving here so early. I wanna look more.”
Julian nodded. “Alright.”
As Alex turned his head back onto the road they were walking on, Julian’s eyes were once again on him. The younger boy made the older remember people he dated before. The way they'd smile at him when he'd make them happy or please them in a sort of way. Julian was always the person with ideas. Ideas of going out, and doing things like… A date. He forgot these rules didn't apply to Alex. They were only friends, very close friends. Thank god Alex never caught on and just thought of it as spending time together.
The two had legs spread out on the couch, watching football, drinking beer, and eating chips. After the walk in Central Park, Alex eventually got bored just like Julian and liked the idea of watching something on the tv.
Once they got home, one holding two bags from the grocery store and the other holding a case of canned beer (Julian was out of Red Stripe because of the night before), Julian turned on the tv and found a Giants vs Cowboys game.
It was already in the second quarter once they got home. Giants behind Cowboys by five points. All they needed was another touchdown. It was quite a slow game.
Julian usually let out a few groans and grumbles in frustration, and so did Alex, even though he knew little of the game's rules from the one who knew it more.
They were still relaxed on the couch by the fourth quarter. Most of the chips were gone and Julian finished his second beer. The Giants scored a touchdown in the third quarter, which made Alex exclaim in happiness.
“It's a fuckin’ dead game. Dallas can't score in less than two minutes.” The Sheffield originated boy said.
Julian looked over at Alex. “You caught on quickly, huh?”
“A little bit. I have an understanding. Just not all of it.”
“Which team do you like better?”
After three seconds of thinking, Alex replied with: “The Giants. It's home, right?”
Julian nodded and smiled. “Yeah. New York. It's home.”
Well, I guess some things can't be avoided...
Song of choice for this chapter: Warned You by Good Morning
Alex sat on his bed, writing new music. He never told Julian he was, he didn't want him to be disappointed when he left, although it would be inevitable when the time would come.
After tapping his lip with a pen, he relaxed back into the pillows he placed as support for his back and put his journal down on his lap. He repeated lyrics he wrote down and sang it in a very low, silent voice.
“Fools on parade, cavort and carry on, for waiting eyes…”
Just as he spoke the ending word, his eyes started to close. The rain pouring outside gave him the usual drowsiness.
As he sank into sleep, Alex’s phone started to buzz. He groaned, opening his eyes and reaching over to grab it. He looked at the contact picture. It was Matt. The frustration Alex felt was replaced with an immense amount of excitement and he immediately answered the call. He put the phone against his ear.
“Hey Al, how's it goin’?”
Alex smiled. It's been awhile since he's heard another familiar voice.
“Man, you could've called me sooner. I was startin’ to get bored without talking to you and the others.”
The boy who sat on the bed positioned himself upwards with his back straight. He rubbed his neck. “Not really. I'm enjoying it here.”
“How's Julian? Giving you any trouble?”
“What? Oh no! Definitely not… He's a sweetheart, really. Thoughtful, kind, somehow comes up with stuff on the spot…”
“What've you guys been doing?” Matt asked, still curious about the older man in the same apartment.
“We went out a couple times, just to get myself more familiar and used to the area. We got some pizza the first night, the day after we went out to Central Park, really pretty there, watched some football-”
“American football. The next few days we just went out to different places, sightseeing…”
Matt raised an eyebrow over the line. “Sounds a lot like he's taking you out.”
“Well yeah. To do stuff.”
“No Al, like a date. He probably likes you.”
Alex's eyes slowly widened as his face began to heat up. “He did stare at me a couple times… But probably just to get my opinions without talking about it.”
“Do you like him?” Matt asked, causing Alex to slip back down in the bed.
“I…” He struggled to put words together. Julian was nice. The attributes he mentioned was some of the reasons he really liked being around Julian, even for being his friend. Would he start dating him? Well, that's a dream for his younger, teenage self. He still wanted to at the time, though. That shouldn't be something to forget.
“I thought you liked Miles.”
“I do! As mates… Best mates…! It's not like I'd go out with him all lovey-dovey.”
“You guys get real close. You've kissed.”
“That's what you do when you have friends, right…?” Sure Miles was one of his best, and he did at some point have feelings for him too. Sort of a “gay for your best friend” situation. Even making the new album a few months ago brought them closer.
Matt sighed. “All I'm trying to say is that you're probably gonna be stuck in a love triangle. Better make up your mind.”
“But… It's not like that. I don't think I'd want a relationship right now.” Alex admitted defeat just to end the conversation and move onto another.
“You should keep thinking about it, though.”
“Yeah, yeah. Another time, alright?”
Matt huffed out a chuckle. “How's the songwriting going?”
“Good! I've got some ideas if you want to hear them.” Alex said, opening his journal and flipping to the first page that was the beginning of Humbug.
The rest of the call with Matt was talking about preparations, changing lyrics, and when they'd want to meet up, but of course, Alex wasn't planning to leave so early.
Alex was relieved hearing that everyone was doing well back home, even though it had been a less than a month since he arrived in America. After he hung up, the topic of relationships still buzzed in his head. He couldn't stop thinking about it.
“Dating’s stupid. Really stupid.” Alex muttered to himself, still sticking to what he said to Matt. He'd get over this opinion, obviously.
A knock at the door caused him to tap out of his thoughts.
“I'm going out... If you need anything from out there call me.” Julian spoke out.
Alex jumped off the bed and opened the door.
“Wait, where are you going?”
“To the store.” Julian shrugged. “Figured we shouldn't buy take-out every night and that I should try to make something… I mean if you wanna come with me you can, it's just I thought you didn't want to ‘cuz it's raining and kinda cold out.”
Alex shook his head. “I'll go with you. Maybe I could buy something for myself.” He smiled.
Julian opened his umbrella and stepped outside of the apartment complex. Alex followed along next to him but didn't go under the cover, resulting in getting wet. He didn't want to get too close. The call about fifteen minutes ago made him paranoid.
“Dude, you're getting soaked.” Julian said, looking at Alex on his left.
“It's fine.” Alex's voice was muffled, the lower part of his face was covered by his jacket.
Julian rolled his eyes. He grabbed Alex's arm and pulled him under the umbrella. “I don't want you to get sick.” He huffed. “It's almost winter.”
Alex narrowed his eyebrows in frustration. “It's only Autumn… I can deal with a common cold.”
“You'd want that?”
“Then what's the big deal?”
Alex stayed silent and put his hands in his jacket pockets. They arrived at the store and Julian closed the umbrella before walking in.
Alex was starting to get hungry, and looking at the food greeting him at the entrance didn't make it any better.
“Okay, so. We need bread, cereal… Fuck, I don't know what to make.” Julian said as they walked down an aisle, pushing a cart. No one else was really in the building, so the sound of squeaky converse sneakers and a cart followed by the convenient music playing was the only noise they heard.
Alex rocked back and forth on his feet. “Maybe we should just walk around and grab whatever looks good?”
“I guess so. We can't go overboard, though.”
Alex nodded as they proceeded to walk around as mentioned before. He grabbed chips, cereal, and other kinds of junk food before Julian stopped him from going any further.
“This is a health trip, not a ‘let's get ill and out of shape’ trip.” He said, taking out a case of donuts from the cart and putting them elsewhere.
“Jesus Christ, you're a jerk today.” Alex muttered.
“I'm not being a jerk, I just don't want your friends and family to think I'm not being helpful to you while you're living here.” Julian stood next to Alex who was looking at the items on the shelves. “I'm thinking about you.”
Alex didn't want to make eye contact with Julian so he continued to look around. He kept quiet, not wanting to admit he was overreacting, although he currently was.
Alex thought about what Matt said. Some of the things he brought up started to show clearly. Julian didn't want him to get a cold by pulling him under the umbrella, what he said about “thinking about him” and honestly, whenever they went out, Alex couldn't believe he didn't realize it was almost like a date. He started to get anxious. Maybe Julian did like him.
“You alright?” Julian said with a concerned look on his face. “Ever since I knocked on the door you've been acting differently.”
“I'm fine, I'm fine. Let's just go home.”
Julian slowly nodded as he pushed the cart out of the aisle and over to the register.
Julian lied down on the couch, watching old 90s cartoons while being wrapped up in the familiar pink blanket. Even though the tv noise in the background was something to be distracted by, he was still confused with Alex's behavior the day before. What happened?
When they walked back home, the younger boy stayed silent until he went back into his bedroom, casting Julian out for most of the night before being called out for dinner. While making small talk and eating Julian’s “beginner's delight” meal, Julian wanted to ask Alex what was the matter. Of course, he respected his space and let him keep to himself.
Julian didn't do anything to offend him or make him upset, right? That's what he thought. Unfortunately, the situation was about something different and a bit more personal.
The current time was late morning and Julian wanted to check up on Alex. Maybe get him some breakfast, watch a show or movie... As always.
He walked over to the second bedroom door and stood in front of it, silent. Before he could knock, Julian heard some voices coming from the room. He leaned forward. It wasn't invading privacy… If no one saw him.
“You want me there now? I don't know…” Alex said to the phone in his hand.
Matt let out a sigh. “We need to record, Al. Don't tell me your romantic friendship with Julian is getting in the way.”
Alex rolled his eyes. “It's not romantic!”
“He likes you.”
“You don't fuckin’ know that.” The blushing boy mumbled.
“You told me he grabbed you by the arm and he said he's looking out for you.”
“He's just a nice guy!” Alex refused to believe all this love nonsense.
“Anyways…” Matt said, trying to continue the main conversation. “We need you here. Just… You can always go back to New York during and after touring. Like you used to.”
“Except I'm living here now, Matt.”
“What's the problem?”
“Julian’s all I have here. He's a close friend of mine and I can't just leave him alone. It’s been less than a month since I’ve moved in.” Alex couldn't believe he was actually refusing to go back and see everyone. Julian almost contaminated his mind. Although, he couldn't disappoint them, and he would like to see them. Alex sighed.
“I'll be there. Hopefully, I can catch a flight next week.”
“Alright. See you soon, Al.”
Matt hung up and Alex dropped the phone on his bed. He ran his fingers through his longish fluffy brown hair.
Julian felt his heart almost sink. After past experiences when Alex came over while on tour, he knew situations like this couldn't be avoided. It was still hard to see him leave after all those times. This would just be another.
Julian knocked on the door lightly. “Alex? Are you… You okay? You were acting-”
Alex opened the door slowly. He looked at Julian with sad eyes.
Alex folded his arms and leaned against the doorframe. “Erm… I have to go soon. Next week. They want me back.”
Oh no. Julian knew he did something wrong if Alex was suddenly leaving. A feeling of panic hit him in the head. “But you're not moving out, are you?”
“Oh of course not, Jules…! I’d never, I just… I thought this day would come later. Looks like they want the album released next Autumn. I'm sorry.”
The two looked away from each other. Julian walked back over to the tv and took the pink blanket from the couch and put it away on another chair. Alex closed his bedroom door to look for upcoming flights.
Sorry this one's so short, just needed something extra to make the plot not so fast-paced even though it most likely is.
Song of choice for this chapter: Cornerstone (Acoustic ver.) by Arctic Monkeys (obviously)
"Could I hear one of the new songs?" Julian asked Alex, sitting on the floor and resting his back on the closet door in Alex's bedroom. He was across from the other boy who was sitting next to the bed.
The two were only relaxing for the rest of the week. It was an inconvenience because Alex was leaving in about a day and it snowed ever since the call with Matt. They both desperately wanted to go out and do something instead of watching tv, eating food, making music and sitting around in awkward silence.
"Sure," Alex replied, standing up and heading over to his acoustic guitar. He sat on the bed, grabbed a pick from the nightstand and before starting to strum, he stared at Julian who looked very interested in what he wrote. Alex didn't feel as pressured when Julian asked him, but when he saw the other's excitement only being shown by his expression, he hoped he wouldn't make a mistake. Of course, it was only a new song no one had ever heard before.
Alex cleared his throat. "This one's uh... This one's called 'Cornerstone.'" He strummed and began to sing the first verses.
It was quite a pretty song, and Julian knew it wasn't a kind of hard rock-n'-roll-ish song even on acoustic. He still enjoyed it, and with Alex's calming and soft voice, the song was great. Julian wondered what other elements the band would put into it. He smiled, noticing the way Alex sang. How he closed his eyes tight, raised his eyebrows and flared out his lips, as opposed to when Julian squinted his eyes and his mouth widened so much you couldn't see his lips and only his teeth.
Alex seemed quiet for a frontman. Not completely, but he certainly wasn't the type to cause a ruckus at a gig. Maybe the future would see him do so. Something about his calmness and politeness was something Julian liked about Alex.
Alexander David Turner. That's a cute name. It suits him.
Yes, Julian confirmed his feelings for Alex even before he moved in. He didn't have a huge I-need-him-now crush on him, but the thought of being together was quite nice in Julian's mind. Was he his number one crush? Not really. Maybe. Julian knew it would be dangerous if he even did date Alex. Not only because of the age gap, if news ever broke out about them, Julian couldn't even imagine what people would think.
He did want Alex to at least know. Unfortunately, it was his last day in New York before he started recording again. Julian would only see him while he was on tour or after tour.
"Julian..? Jules?" Alex said, waving his hand in front of who was being called into reality. "How did you like the song?"
Julian blinked and focused on the hand waving in front of him. He missed the end of the song because of his stupid daydreaming. "Yeah, I really like it." He complimented with a small chuckle.
Alex's face lit up with happiness when Julian said so. "Wanna hear another?"
"I'd love to, but I'd rather hear the final version." Julian stood up. "You're an amazing artist, Alex. I can't wait for the album to come out."
The amazing artist tucked bits of hair behind his ear. "Thanks. I appreciate it, I really do."
Julian looked out the window of the bedroom. "Damn, snowed in again." He turned around. "Any ideas?"
The other shrugged. It was kind of weird for Julian asking him what to do. But in this kind of weather, what would you do?
"I just hope it isn't like this when you leave tomorrow. It'd be a pity if the flight was cancelled."
Alex groaned and fell onto the bed. "Meh."
"I don't wanna leave so early."
"You'll be coming back anyways."
Alex rolled onto his stomach. "Thing is, I moved in with you so we wouldn't have to do the same routine every tour and plus, you asked me."
Julian sat next to the other, nodding. He saw Alex look up at him.
"I'm thinking about you too."
As soon as Alex said those words with his doe eyes looking at Julian's tired ones, the latter wanted to pull him into a tight embrace. Something about that charm and the softness in his voice made him ecstatic.
To much disappointment, Julian only rolled his eyes. "Whatever, man."
Alex chuckled with a toothy smile and rolled onto his back again. "We should do somethin'."
"There's a lot of snow outside so I doubt we can do much."
"Let's get some drinks."
Drinks. Drinks spelled trouble in Julian's mind. "Ooh no, I don't drink heavily anymore."
"C'mon, It'll be fun. It's my last night here until I come back anyways so.... We should spend it well. Margaritas, yeah?"
Julian let out a sigh. "If you get me drunk I'll never forgive you."
"Same goes for me."
The two left the apartment, preparing for snow.