Author's Note: Hey there readers! I wrote you something :)
I wrote it after watching the movie Less Than Zero. I watched it here recently, and just couldn't accept how it ended. I just needed something good to happen for poor Julian. This takes place after the night Clay and Blair take care of Julian while he's sick. The movie after that does not happen as far as this story is concerned.
If you've seen the movie, then you know what part I'm talking about. If you haven't, then hopefully I have explained Julian's past in this story well enough. Also, if you haven't seen Less Than Zero, you should really give it a watch. It does have mature content, but it is a great movie with powerful performances, especially Robert Downey Jr as Julian Wells.
The other two characters I am using are Clay Easton, played by Andrew McCarthy, and Blair Kennedy, played by Jami Gertz.
I want to let you know that when Julian is talking to Robyn, he is, in fact, calling her Roby. It's not a typo and it's pronounced just like Robbie.
If you would like to see what Robyn, my original character, looks like, you can look on my profile page. There's a link to my blog where I have posted a picture of her.
This is going to be a two-part story, so I guess I'll quit talking and let you read the first part :)
"I am not going to L.A., Julian, so just drop it!" Her words were followed by the slam of her car door, finalizing her statement and effectively putting an end to their conversation.
Julian let his chin fall to his chest, watching from the corner of his eye as she marched up the stairs to their apartment, a brown paper sack of groceries tucked in the crook of her arm, and brushed past a waiting Clay and Blair in her haste to get inside. As his oldest friend made his way toward the car, Julian climbed out.
He and Robyn had been at it for days, since the first time he'd asked her to accompany him on his first trip back home since Clay had driven him to New Hampshire against his will. Julian couldn't pass up his father's request that he come home for the holidays and he didn't want to. It had taken him years to build a new relationship with his father and he hadn't been invited home since he first started using.
But no matter how he tried, he couldn't convince her to go with him.
"Is everything okay?" Clay had reached him now, and joined him against the car. They watched together as Robyn opened the door upstairs to let Blair into the apartment.
"Of course." He smiled at his friend, and it hurt. His jaw ached with the lie. Things hadn't been okay since he had gotten the call from his father.
Clay mirrored him, smiling as he repeated, "Of course."
As he leaned against the car, eyes on the apartment door the two girls had disappeared behind, he tried to find words. He wanted to tell Clay what was really going on, but that would mean talking about the past Robyn was still running from.
Could he talk to Clay about that?
Would it be betraying Robyn's trust?
His friend looked at him as if he knew the struggle Julian was going through, waiting patiently for him to say something.
The young brunette was saved when Blair stepped onto the balcony above them. "Come on up guys!"
As Clay pushed himself from the car, Julian hesitated and looked up to Blair. She smiled down at him, and he was so thankful for everything she had done for him.
When he was lonely and missing his friend, she had been there. When he was sick, even close to death, she had nursed him back to health. When he had been in trouble, his life in the hands of Rip and the next high he could get, she had called Clay. When they had first arrived in New Hampshire and he had to go through yet another bout of rehab, she had been right by his side. When he'd met Robyn and fallen in love with the guarded beauty, it had been Blair who'd guided him, slowly but surely, into the heart of the woman who had wanted nothing to do with him.
Even now she was helping him. If it hadn't been for her calming presence and words, he surely would not have gotten past Robyn's anger and into their apartment this quickly.
"He's on his way up, Robyn. Don't worry." Clay joined Blair on the balcony and motioned for Julian to come up as he kissed his fiance.
He took the steps two at a time, pausing just inside the open apartment door. It was small place. It was one room, kitchen and living room connected. A series of black drapes was the only thing separating the makeshift bedroom from the rest of the apartment. The bathroom stood alone in the back corner, the only room in the apartment with a door to close.
It was barely liveable compared to the multi-floor mansions he, Clay, and Blair had grown up in. It was barely an apartment compared to the spacious one bedroom place Clay and Blair shared.
But it was in a safe neighborhood, not that many places weren't safe in New Hampshire. Robyn felt safe there. They could afford to live there comfortably using the wages they received from the jobs they each had.
It was theirs.
And Julian was more than able to admit he had been happier here in this little one room apartment the past couple of years than he had been in his father's large home his entire life.
Robyn stood not very far from him, chopping vegetables in the kitchen. Julian looked to the balcony, getting an encouraging nod from Blair, before stepping toward his girlfriend.
He wrapped his arms around her waist, pressing himself against her back as she continued her work. She leaned into him, muttering a small, "Hey."
"Hey to you, too," he whispered, kissing the top of her head, rust colored hair tickling his nose. Her chopping ceased as her hands found his, gripping them tightly as they rested on her stomach. "I'm sorry, Roby."
Her head moved across his chest as she shook it. "Let's not talk about this now. I just wanna have a fun night with everyone."
Nodding, Julian smiled against her hair. He inhaled the scent of mint and raspberry, the combination of her shampoo and perfume. He looked down at the lithe form in his arms and felt shame for making her think of her past in Los Angeles.
As they swayed together to the radio playing in the living room, he considered dropping the subject of L.A. completely. He'd call his dad and tell him he couldn't come. He and Robyn would just have a quiet Christmas in their little home.
But he couldn't do that.
"All right, love birds, I'm starving!" Blair's voice broke through the calm.
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
Clay followed him into the kitchen hours later, the two men carrying the dishes from dinner. Blair and Robyn sat on the two person couch a few feet away quietly chatting.
"Julian," Clay's voice was soft. "Are you sure everything is okay?"
He was hoping neither of his friends had noticed the tension still present between him and Robyn during dinner, but he should have known better. He caught Blair's eye from the living room. Taking Clay's lead, he lowered his voice so he wouldn't disturb the women just a few feet away. "We'll figure it out."
Julian threw a dry hand towel to his friend as he began to lower the dishes into the sudsy water filling the sink. He watched from the corner of his eye as Clay nodded.
Clay always knew what was going on in Julian's life, a habit they had formed due to the events in L.A. four years earlier. It had started as prying on Clay's part, constant questions to make sure his friend stayed clean and out of trouble. Julian had hated it at first, missing the privacy and trust his life long friend had once afforded him, but grew to find comfort in the routine. As Clay began to grow lazy in his questioning, Julian had begun to provide the story of his days and life voluntarily.
But Julian never told Clay of the things Robyn trusted him with. Those were her stories to tell and she chose to tell them only to him.
Not even Blair knew the entire story of how their quiet, sometimes withdrawn, friend had made it to New Hampshire.
While Julian truly appreciated his friend's interest and concern, he was more thankful that Clay acknowledged the boundaries Robyn set around herself and respected them, asking for nothing more than she was ready to provide.
"Are you coming home with me and Blair this year?" Clay smiled as he dried the dishes handed to him.
Julian knew that his friend had been waiting almost a week, since he'd heard the conversation between Julian and his father, to ask that question. For the first time in four years, he could ask that question.
This was something the three of them had been waiting for, the chance for the three friends to visit their home together. This was as exciting for Clay and Blair as it was for Julian. For four years, the high school sweethearts had to leave Julian behind as they went to spend the Christmas holiday with their families.
The first year they almost hadn't. Julian was the one to tell them to go on without him, saying that he would be fine.
It wasn't true.
He almost hadn't made it. As soon as his friends had left him, he'd gone out, wandering the streets. He roamed from bar to bar, never making it inside, but longing in his loneliness for the comfort of his old habit.
As he had made his way back to the bar just a couple of blocks from the apartment he shared with his friends, he had run into a woman with copper hair and the shine of a stud on the side of her nose.
When he had been alone and in need, she had been his saving grace.
Every holiday after that, even before he had stolen her heart, Clay and Blair had left him for the holidays, confident in Robyn's influence on Julian.
But for the first time, they didn't have to leave him. He could finally visit his father and his brother and his uncle. He could take Robyn there with him, show her his childhood home and show her the places he'd hung out with Clay and later Blair.
He knew Clay and Blair wanted to share that with her as well. She was their friend, too, after all.
So it pained him to say, "I'm not sure yet."
Clay's hands stopped, the plate Julian had just handed him falling back into the soapy water. "What do you mean you're not sure?" His voice was louder than before.
Julian jabbed Clay's side with his elbow, reminding the blonde to keep his voice low. "I mean just what I said. Not sure yet." He continued washing dishes, stacking them on the counter wet since Clay had abandoned his job drying.
He felt arms wrap around his torso, as he continued washing dishes. "Don't listen to him, Clay. He's been waiting to see his father for too long. He's going." He stiffened at her words, relaxing only slightly when she laid her head between his shoulders and pressed her lips to his back.
Blair's quiet voice filled the room. "Are coming with us, Robyn?"
Her arms tightened around him and her face dug further into his back as she hid herself, not only from Blair but from the question. "Oh no," her voice was muffled. "I don't like L.A.." She pulled away from him then, hands resting on his sides, and faced the other couple. "And I wouldn't want to intrude on Julian's time with his family. It's been so long since he's seen them."
The room was quiet as Julian pulled his hands from the dishwater, drying them, and brushed his fingers against hers. He turned his head toward his friends. Clay's eyes moved from him to the woman behind him. Blair looked at Robyn, eyes soft with worry.
Robyn cleared her throat, squeezing his fingers with hers. "Excuse me." She pulled away completely then and walked to the back of the apartment, closing the door behind her.
Blair knew very little of Robyn's past and Clay knew almost nothing of it. They tried not to pry, letting her reveal her troubles to them in her own time. Moments like this, however, let them past her defenses just enough to see the fight she still waged against the demons of her past.
The sound of muffled water filled the silent room. It sounded like the shower to Julian, but he knew she wasn't bathing. She was using the water to drown out any noise she might make.
Julian had already crossed the small, one room apartment when he heard Blair speak again. "We're gonna head home, okay, Julian?"
He turned to nod. Blair and Clay were already in their coats, opening the door to leave.
"Tell Robyn I'll call her tomorrow?"
He nodded again. "Okay, Blair."
Once they left, closing the door behind them, he leaned against the door jam. "Roby?"
The door opened a crack. "Can you just tell Blair and Clay how sorry I am? I just want to be alone..."
Julian stopped her then. "They already left." He pushed gently on the door as she nodded. "Blair said she'll call you tomorrow."
She nodded again. WIth the door opened further, he could see the whole of her right side. Her feet were now bare and her top had fallen off her shoulder, revealing the twisted black lines of the tattoo on both. "Okay."
He brought his hand to her shoulder, brushing his fingers against the rough skin beneath the ink. "Do you want to come out here with me?"
Slowly shaking her head, she brought her hand to his, entwining their fingers. "Not yet. I'm gonna shower real quick."
Bringing their hands toward him, he kissed the back of hers. The smile on her face comforted him, easing his worry. He let her close the door before backing away from it.
Author's Note: So that's part one. Part Two is just about done and I will be posting it soon. I would love to know what you think, so drop me a review :)
See you for Part Two!