Title: Scenes From a Balcony
Summary: As the title might suggest, some scenes from a third-floor balcony. Written as part of the the fanfic100 challenge on LiveJournal; each chapter is a response to a one-word prompt, and that prompt will be the title of that chapter. Each chapter is also exactly 500 words in length, with the exception of chapter 4 (which is two prompt responses combined, for a total of 1000 words).
Author's Notes: I own nothing. I am a textual poacher.
It was nearly Christmas when I first met him. December twenty-first, in fact. 12/21, the same backwards and forwards. I liked the symmetry of it, which is the reason I remember. One of the reasons.
I'd moved in only a few weeks before, lugging three cardboard boxes, one typewriter, a futon mattress and a floorlamp up the stairs. The studio was small and grimy and the building smelled like fried onions, and I discovered after some experimentation that my window was painted shut; but it was cheap enough that I could go a few months living on my savings before I'd have to break down and start waiting tables -- possibly longer, if I gave up smoking.
Sure. That'd happen.
I wasn't exactly surprised when I found him on the balcony, leaning against the rail with a cigar and a paper. I'd seen him a few times before, very briefly, as he slipped in and out of the apartment across the landing at odd hours of the day and night.
He glanced over his shoulder as I came out, nodded in acknowledgment and slid over to make room for me, folding the paper away. I lit my cigarette and took the other side of the balcony, and for a long time we traded appraising glances and said nothing. Then he quirked an inquisitive look my way, gestured over his shoulder towards my half of the third floor.
"You a writer, then?"
I figured he'd heard the chain-rattle sound of typewriter keys, and I shrugged. "Sure. I guess." I eyed the Variety tucked under his arm and jutted my chin at it. "You an actor?"
He gave me a slow grin. "Sure. I guess."
We stood in the silence and the smoke for a while before he glanced sideways at me, appraisingly but not unkindly. "Nebraska?"
"Iowa." I blinked, startled, and sized him up in return – the faded denim-blue of his jacket and eyes, his scuffed cowboy boots. "Wyoming."
"Montana," He corrected, grinning.
I nodded, turned my gaze out to the chunk of LA streetfront you could see from the balcony. "Miss it?" Half making conversation, half really curious.
He shrugged a little by way of reply, the grin disappearing, and I wondered if I'd overstepped some unseen boundary of conversation. He was silent for a long time before he turned back to me, gesturing to the city around us with the stub of his cigar. "Not quite where you figured you'd end up, is it?"
I wondered why it was that he sounded like he knew me, like he'd seen the framed diploma hanging crookedly on my wall; but all I did was shrug and fight back my homesickness. "Not quite."
He chuckled, a warm, solid sound. "You'll get used to it." He flicked the dead butt of his cigar out into space, turned to go back into the building. Then he stopped, looking up into the hot, smoggy sky.
"Snow." He said abruptly. "I miss snow."
And he slipped back inside.