This first part was written as a sequel to another fic I've written, entitled "Gravity", which will be posted as chapter 2 of this once I type it up again. I feel bad about having all these one-shots lying around, so I decided to group these two (and any more Corn/Soda fanfiction that I write around this theme) together.

What a weird pairing, lol. Don't worry, this will make almost complete sense, even without reading "Gravity" first.


Inertia

A Jet Set Radio Future fanfiction by Bagatelle

Cigarette smoke hangs thick in the air, motionless, like a shadow on this hot day, burning with his breath and his body. I inhale, too: taste the familiar flavor of fire, and sigh. He's stretched out on the roof of an old Isuzu, the red paint peeling, rusting, a flattering contrast of bronze under the pale skin of his bare torso. His loose hair hangs in his eyes, sticks to his neck. Bruises and scars litter his body, and he looks so wild when he's unkempt like this. Untamed. Free. Like a Rudie should be.

I'm sitting, cross-legged, on the hood of that same Isuzu, watching the smoke from his cigarette dance its alien waltz in the suffocating summer air. My jacket is long since abandoned, lying beside his in the shady dirt under the car, but my face is still flushed from the heat, my shirt stuck to my sweating back and shoulders. I'd never take it off, though, and he knows damn well why. Not even he, my oldest friend, can see me like that. He stretches, doesn't look at me as he brandishes the cigarette in my direction, and his ribs nudge against his skin, reminding me that I need to get a better job. I take the cigarette as it ashes on my bare foot, and there's a weird tingling for an instant, then nothing. I lock my lips around the paper and suck in, heaving sour clouds out of my nose, and watching my own ugly reflection in the shattered windshield of the car. I don't look how I remember: maybe I'm different without my hat, though. Maybe I don't look as good as I thought I did, when I'm hot and sweaty and have a headache. I push my hair up off of my neck with my free hand, and grunt. Pass him his cigarette back. I don't like the taste much, but I'm cemented to it.

He bites the cigarette, and I see his tongue trace the rim of the filter out of the corner of my eye. He's like that, I guess. Weird. He's always been. I don't think it's a bad thing. Hell, it's kinda nice, every once in a while. Everyone else tries so hard to be normal. No one else is quite as much of a nonconformist as he is…even me. And I'll admit it. I'm not ashamed to admit I still have work to do. He breathes, spits, and the cigarette is gone. And it's just him and I, and the sun is setting, now, slowly. He folds his hands under his half-bald head, fascinated by the sky as colors other than dull blue bleed into it from the horizon. I watch him for minutes that feel like seconds. His breathing is that slow. Mine, too.

Usually I'm more coherent than this. I realize suddenly that I have no idea what I'm thinking about, and I'm baffled for a moment, noticing the pink of the sky and remembering that it's getting dark. His mouth is moving. What's he saying? Something bold. Something rude. He laughs and wipes his mouth, and when I'm still silent, staring dumbly at the side of his face, he turns and looks at me. He's more handsome than people think, I say to myself, already knowing the strong slope of his nose, and the angry set of his jaw. His eyes are small, but powerful: glinting, sandy, golden, brass, diamond. I can't even tell, anymore. His mouth moves again, and I still don't hear, but I nod. What am I thinking? Where am I?

Aching, burning in my brain from the nicotine.

He cocks his eyebrows at me, knows I don't understand him. What is it with me and not knowing anything, these days? I used to have every answer. I used to know what he meant by everything. Now it's all double meanings and bullshit, though: something forceful, something soft, teasing, irritating, annoying, crushing. His voice scoops out my insides, and I feel pulpy and weak, shivering, upset, but satisfied. He tells me I sometimes make him feel like he's freefalling. I guess that's a good thing. When we have time, or something. When we have space. He tells me he's glad he knows me. He's so glad.

I remember being littler, quieter. And I remember him being just as reserved, only less curious and maybe more depressed. I don't recall him ever smiling, when we were younger. He makes up for it now, I suppose, laughing with me, but I barely see it through his jacket, and he scowls his ass off when we're with the rest of the gang. Like he doesn't want the rest of them there. Like he only gives a shit about him, and about me. About us. Is that supposed to flatter me? Maybe it does, a little. I'm just numb right now, stupid, watching his hand smear a handprint along a big chunk of undamaged windshield. I can't tell if I'm smiling. I thought being a GG was about caring about everybody's well-being. I thought that was what Beat and Gum and I were going for when we started this fuckin' gang. I guess Soda might care more than he acts. He was a bastard when we were younger, too, after all. To me.

A little.

I think.

His fingertips are heavy and leave dark spots on the windshield, either because they're dirty or the windshield is. I recognize that pressure, when he runs his hand over the spot again. I've seen those marks before. His knuckles are thick, and have kneaded skin, yes, in a punch, in a fistfight, with Clutch, with Garam, Poison Jam. His fingers have relaxed and swum through hair, grabbed at arms, touched a mouth. He doesn't look like a tender guy. He told me once that he's glad for that. That he doesn't want to ruin the surprise for everyone else. And he laughed at that, like it was supposed to be funny. I don't really think it was. But then again…I know. It ain't a surprise, for me.

He's watching me watch his fingers. Casually, he reaches up and nudges my bangs out of my face with his middle finger, and I see more of him, splayed out on the car's roof, instead of just his hand. He looks good when he's stretching. Like he's posing for something. I don't even know what. I could never look that good, though. Not even if I tried.

I don't get why girls don't check him out. I guess it might be because of his huge jacket, and how pissed off he always looks. He's kinda creepy, sometimes. If they could see him like this, though, they'd be all over him. He's better-looking than Beat. Better-proportioned. And not with creepy pants. I'd never say that to Gum, though. She'd fuckin' kill me. She's already pissed at me for coming out here and hanging out with Soda like I do. She told me I should make a real friend, like Yoyo or somebody. Or get a girlfriend. She says I'd look good with Jazz.

…I love Yoyo, really. And Jazz is a great girl. But they ain't the same as Soda is. Gum just doesn't know. She can't know. It ain't her fault.

I think about freefalling when Soda moves his knees out in front of himself and slides down the windshield, cracking it even more. He glides and closes his eyes, rakes his fingers through his hair and starts tying it up, again. What's that thing…something will keep on moving until it runs into something else…or it won't start going anywhere until somebody runs the fuck into it. Inertia, I think. That makes me think of him. Of us. He was always frantic before this started, these hangouts, and I was always sitting still. He ran the fuck into me. Set me in motion. We keep going back and forth, though…I don't know if that's allowed, or if it doesn't even matter. We keep hanging out. And my world keeps stopping, going, stopping, going. I imagine a blue marble, spinning, and when it stops, I have to spin it again to get it moving. For shit to happen to me. Not that it doesn't already. But for the good shit to happen.

To freefall.

This place is dark. Blue-gray-purple. His hand is suddenly on my shoulder, running down my arm, feeling with that middle finger. His breath is warm, but it makes my neck feel better, gently urging sticky hairs to break loose and move. The tip of his tongue runs up my throat, as delicate as it was with the cigarette filter, and he kisses my earlobe and breathes a word in my ear. I hear it, this time. Tab, he says. It's a familiar word. Not my name anymore, but it was, once upon a time. That was Gum's name for me. My first Rudie nickname. The boy that a boy named Montgomery Heat met on the stoop of an orphanage all those years ago. The boy who bought shoes for Monty with stolen money. Shoes that were too big.

My throat tightens when his teeth run down my skin, slick and clean. His nose is cold on my sweaty neck, big hands, not unlike my own, feeling under my shirt, touching what I'm hiding. He knows it's there, even though I always cover it up. His fingertips trace each line, his palms spread over puckered skin, and he's kissing me with his hands, and I'm kissing back. I stare into the distance at the darkening sky and trace my knuckle over his Adam's apple: feel him swallow, hear him say that word again. It's so fuckin' weird. His mouth brushes my collarbone, my arms holding my shirt firmly on. Tab, he whispers. Nobody's called me that in two…three years. But he says it like it's still who I am, and it feels okay, the more I think about it. The more he runs his mouth up my cheek.

I suddenly realize that my hands are clutching at the waist of his pants, shaking, the knuckles white, I'm grabbing so hard. I don't like to let him know how much I enjoy him doing this…not always, anyway…and I'm nervous, now, for some reason. His eyes press into mine, and he's laid back, relaxed, happy. I close mine again. His mouth says Corn against my lips, and it feels more natural, but it sends a chill down my back when I feel his lips tense and pucker around the O. It's only for half a second, and I'm shaking for minutes afterward, breathless. He does this to me. God, not often enough.

The hood of the car shudders under us as we roll toward the edge, suddenly dropping off and into the dirt. He grunts when he lands on his back, and sounds like he hurt himself, but he's okay, he mutters, and jerks me down into the dirt instead. I don't care. It's all through my hair, and I don't give a shit. The important thing is breathing. Remembering to breathe. It's the same for this as it is with skating, I remind myself. Use your nose.

He smells like car exhaust and cigarettes.

…I used to want to be with Gum. Back when the GG's first got started…when I was still Tab…I had the biggest thing for her. She used to be a sweet girl, underneath all that toughness. And we really cared for each other. But about two years ago, she scared the hell out of me when she told me that she knew I liked her in that way. And I couldn't lie to her. She's always been able to see right through me. So I told her the truth…and she kissed me on the spot.

We fucked around a few times. We were young, though, and she didn't want it like I did. When she broke off, she told me she had just wanted to see what it was like. I was nineteen. She was seventeen. She liked Beat, she said. She wanted to be with him. I was good, but I wasn't…that good. A whole shitload of reasons. I knew the biggest one, though…the one she didn't say. I could always see it in her face.

You're ugly, Corn.

And if I keep fucking you, I might get pregnant and have your ugly baby.

That wasn't so long ago. But she still tries to get involved with me: tries to push me to any other girl, like she's afraid that I'm still in love with her. 'Cause she can see it: I am in love. But she can't see that it's not with her. She bitches to me about hanging out with Soda because she knows he talks shit about her. He doesn't so much, though, and when he does, it's just about how she broke my heart. He thinks it's funny, even though he doesn't say it. Not that I was broken, but that he was my rebound. Gum's polar opposite. If she knew we were together, he says, she'd feel like complete shit, 'cause she hates him so much. I think, bitterly, that that's the only reason she'd feel like shit.

She's with Beat now. And I've heard them together, and he doesn't sound like such a great fuck.

God.

Soda's chest smells like sweat and dirt. He's breathing shallowly against me, and I'm panting, too, my face flushed, my whole body hot. He reaches under the car for my bag, 'cause he knows I keep water in there, and he pulls the bottle out and hesitates before unscrewing the top and pressing it to my lips. It's warm, but I don't care. He drinks some too and dribbles a little on his hand, reaching down and shocking me when he touches the deep inside of my thigh. I wasn't expecting that. But he looks away, embarrassed, when he sees how surprised I look. I know what he's doing. Like a gentleman. He rubs his stomach next with the water, and I lay back in the dirt and think about the sunrise, and how beautiful it always looks up north from the rooftops of the Skyscraper District. About how he told me I was more breathtaking than that. Who knew he was such a Romantic? Maybe that was a part of the surprise.

I feel at rest, again. He's in a deep motion, now, though, as he sets the water aside and zips my pants back up, ignoring how dazed I am. I felt it, I want to say. I was there with you. I heard you say my name. I did hear that. I heard him groaning, and I heard myself choking and wheezing below him. Remembering Gum, and what a bitch she was to me. The sex is better now that the feeling is mutual, I know. That's not the only reason, but it comforts me. Soda pushes my bangs back with his wet hand and looks at my eyes, frowning. He doesn't think I'm ugly. Yours is a secret beauty, he said, though not with such pretty words. You can't tell how good you look unless you KNOW, he said. Know what? I guess I don't. But I guess it's not really all that important, in the long run.

I think that he's handsome. No one else does.

Fuck them.

He runs his fingers over my big lips, and I know he's moving fast inside, frantic, racing, breathing. His eyes are trembling, bumps rising on his skin, over his arms and his chest. There's a tiny tattoo under his armpit, on his ribs, that I hardly ever notice. An arrow, pointing up. That's the way he wants to go, he says, if he ever moves fast enough. When his soul breaks free from his body. He wants to go up, if there's anything there. My hand reaches up and touches the tattoo, and I know my face must be sad, 'cause of the way he looks at me. The sun is long gone, now, and his eyes glow in the dim moonlight. Corn, he whispers again, leaning down and pressing his open mouth to mine. I taste fire, salt, tobacco.

I never thought I could be so happy…just being still.