Another one-shot, lol.

I wrote this over the course of about an hour, I guess, mostly because I wanted to write something from Clutch's POV. And I was half-asleep, so don't expect it to make much sense. Decide for yourself if it's supposed to be slash or not, I'm not really sure.

Sometimes I like making weird titles. It's more fun than one-word ones after such a long time.

A Swingset, the Ocean, Thoughts in the Shade: Cigarettes and Kleptomania

A JSRF fanfiction by Bagatelle

I light a cigarette as I'm leaning back in the cool shadow of a decrepit metal-and-wood building, watching Yoyo teetering around on the only unbroken swing, his feet barely touching the ground, even with his skates on. Both of us have taken our shirts off, by now, but still, he's sitting right in the sun, heat pouring over his bare back, and he'll probably be sunburned tomorrow and bug me about it. It's hotter than hell. My lips stick together as I put my cigarette into my mouth and take a drag. Fuck, I hate summer. I hate winter, too, but for right now, I hate summer the most. Just 'cause it's here right now to piss me off with this fuckin' heat wave.

He calls out to me—wants me to push him, the little brat—and I close my eyes, pretend I didn't hear him. He's annoying. I don't know why I came out here with him. No, wait…he came out here with me. Followed me. The little asshole. I grunt and snort smoke out through my nose when he calls my name a little louder…Clutch, c'mon…okay…maybe I heard that one, but only for the sake of stopping this before it goes any further or gets any more aggravating. I open my eyes and glare at him, tell him to shut the hell up. I'm not pushing him. It's his fault for being so short. He looks glumly at me and sighs, slouching a little. He's chubby, so his stomach pudges out a little bit when he does that, a big fold just over his belly button. He swings his legs, his head bowed, and from here, he looks like a ten-year-old. I don't care how cute he can make himself look: I won't get sucked in by that kinda shit. Maybe if Jazz or Rhyth or Corn or Combo were here instead of me…they'd give in and push him. But not me. I don't care if he's covered in kittens. I ain't going anywhere near him.

Actually…he'd probably have an asthma attack if he was covered in kittens. Heh. Maybe I should save that idea for later. Use it as a threat if he's bugging me too much.

He sighs. I'd never really do it, you know. He's a good kid, sometimes. Good-hearted. He just misses feeling loved, like most of us do. Jazz tells me that she doesn't think his old man ever really cared all that much about him when he was little, and that he must've had a hard time making friends 'cause he never had much of a father figure or role model in his life. She also says she thinks that must be why he lies all the time. 'Cause it's all he knows, or something. Like me. How stealing's all I know. I told her she was off her rocker. I steal 'cause I have to, not 'cause I want to. I can't help it if I see something expensive…I just want it. Need it. Even if I can't use it or have no idea what it is. Mp3 car adapter? Gotta have it. Fine china? Fuck yes. GPS device? Why not. Antique necklace? Yes please. I've got boxes of shit shoved under my bed that I haven't touched in months, some doubles, some not. I don't even know if I've ever used any of the shit that I've stolen, except for, maybe, the earrings I wear, and the chain I keep my wallet on. That shit's cheap, though, and from a long time ago.

Yoyo's trying to swing himself, and he's not doing a very good job: only making the rusted chains squeak and groan over him. He's flailing all over the place, and he's a pitiful sight. I guess nobody ever taught him how to swing. That's kinda weird. You'd think all kids would know how to do that. But…I dunno. I'm the only one of us who knows how to drive. And I'm pretty sure Corn said something to Jazz once about Soda not being able to read. That's kinda fucked up. You know what else? I remember Cube saying she never learned how to ride a bicycle…and I don't think that Beat or Gum can swim. It's really fucked, in my opinion. That's the kind of shit that you learn from your mom and dad when you're really little. Makes me wonder what the hell happened to a lot of them before they all came together like this.

I puff on my cigarette again and look at Yoyo. He seems really frustrated, like he's really trying to get going but it's just not working. He's wiggling all over the place, the idiot. "Swing your legs forward," I say lazily, "and pull back on the chains. Then lean forward and tuck your legs back." He stops for a second and looks at me before he slowly takes my advice. You can only imagine the thrilled look on his face when he finally gets going. Stupid kid. I smirk and snuff my cigarette on the ground, yawning. I don't know exactly what time it is, but the shadows are getting pretty long, so we'll probably have to go soon. I scratch my face and watch him. I share a room with this kid. He does an okay job of keeping to himself when I yell at him, especially considering the fact that his little doggy sleeps in there with us, and I guess he's maybe a little bit cleaner than I am. Jazz says she's seen him strutting around, acting a whole lot like me on occasion. Everyone thinks it's cute, she says. Nobody ever seems to think it's cute when I act like me. She tells me she thinks I must be some kind of an influence on him, now, even though she thinks Corn is his real father figure. She thinks Beat and I are his role models. I laugh at her, usually, when she says that. Beat and I aren't exactly the best role models for a kid like Yoyo. Sometimes, thinking about that kinda shit makes me a little upset. I went through a lot of shit as a kid, and even in recent years, and I know I'm probably not going anywhere good. If he wants to be like me, he'll have to go through that kinda bullshit, too, and I really don't think he's tough enough for it.

I wipe my forehead with my hand: I'm sweating pretty bad. And I'm bored. I feel like I'm babysitting Yoyo, and that's pissing me off. If he weren't here, I wouldn't be bored. If he weren't here, I'd probably be fuckin' around on that swing, myself, looking over the fence when I swung high enough and looking down into the caged-off reservoirs of Kogane-cho. The ocean, Soda called it once, when I came out here with him and Corn and Jazz and Gum. He's an idiot. He's probably never even seen the ocean. Maybe that's why he thinks this is, though. Frowning, I rub my leg distractedly and blink at Yoyo. He's making a big fuss about how much fun he's having, flying around, and I shake my head. He acts like he's ten, sometimes. I don't know why he thinks he could ever be like me.

I can see how red his shoulders are getting, and I'm about to get up when I stop myself. I don't even know why, at first: all I know is that me getting up turned into me pulling out another cigarette. Sweat drips down my chin distractingly as I'm lighting it, my eyes following Yoyo, back and forth, back and forth, kinda like a real yo-yo, up and down its string. This kid lied to me the other day about some shit he did, but I can't really remember what it was, now. I remember getting mad at him, smacking him, but I don't remember why. I want to say that I think he took something of mine…but…I don't know. Maybe he was poking into my goods: looting through the boxes under my bed or something, and he said he wasn't. Shit, yeah, I think that was it. I think I caught him with a ring, or something. Something shiny. Pretty sure it was that ring. I remember smacking him and taking it back, telling him to go steal his own shit. What the hell did he need a diamond ring for, anyway?! He's sixteen. Dumbass. I plan on maybe giving that to somebody, someday. Of all the shit I've stolen, I think that ring has gotta be the nicest. The diamond's four karats, I think. White gold. Real nice. Maybe I'll give it to Jazz, sometime, if shit works out between us.

Maybe not.

I remember he cried. He's always crying. He's a huge fuckin' baby. He deserved it, though. I remember thinking that. He deserved to cry. He deserved to get hit. Touching my shit…he got what was coming to him.

He waits for the swing to die down, then gets off, skates over to me, into the shade. He looks at his own shoulder and pokes it, flinches. "I got toasted, yo," he says unhappily. I shrug.

"Yeah, well, it's good for you," I reply. "Now, at least, after it peels, you won't look so…white."

"I'm not!" Yoyo says, sounding confused. I snort.

"Never mind," I mutter. "Sit your ass down, kid. You're making me nervous, standing there like that." He obeys me, sits beside me against the wall, hesitantly takes a cigarette that I instinctively offer him. I throw my lighter at him and he fumbles with it for a second or two before he gets a flame out of it, and it's then that I remember he shouldn't be smoking. I smack the lighter out of his hands and yank the cigarette out of his mouth, popping him one across the face for being so stupid. "Hey! You can't smoke! What the hell is the matter with you?!"

He grabs his face and tears up a little, pulling his sunglasses back into place to hide it. "…You gave it to me!" he argues. I glare at him, shoving the cigarette back into its crushed box.

"You accepted it, idiot. What would you have done if you'd had an attack?!"

"…I…I don't know," he mutters after a moment or so, an he's rubbing his cheek where I hit him, his face going red. "I…I wasn't thinking, yo…"

I sigh heavily. "God, what a dumbass. What would you do if you didn't have me around to guard your life, hmm?"

Yoyo looks at me for a second, then leans back again, staring straight out in front of him. He's lucky he's wearing those sunglasses. This way, I can pretend that I don't see him crying, and I won't have to hit him again. I don't like hurting him. I really don't. But I just don't think he'd listen to me any other way. Nobody else ever has. Except for Jazz, but…she's not the same as everyone else. Yoyo sniffs and squirms, and I throw my cigarette away, following his eyes out toward the reddening sky. He's not really so bad. He's just a crybaby. Like a little brother you can't get rid of. An annoying friend who always wants to hang out. Maybe Jazz is right, though. Maybe he really does look up to me, in some weird way. Maybe he's one of the two or three people in this world who actually give a shit about me, still.

I reach over and nudge his arm with my fist. "Hey…kid," I murmur, "…calm down, okay? Hey. I love you, man. You know that. I don't wanna hurt you."

He sobs, nods. Wipes snot off his face. Just 'cause, I reach over and hug him, squeezing him 'til I know his sunburn must hurt like hell. He just cries harder, though, and hugs me back. He's a cute kid, yeah. Like I said, though…I don't fall for it. I ruffle his hair and stand up, helping him to his feet, smiling crookedly like I do. I go over and grab our stuff, toss him his shirt and his pullover, jerk my own pullover on and tie the shirt around my waist. It's too damn hot for layers. He follows my lead and skates after me when I start heading back to the Garage, and I think I hear him say something under his breath, but I just can't tell for sure. Maybe it's better if, whatever it is, I don't hear it.

I'll bet he's going to try to take that ring, again. God knows what he wants it for, but he's not getting it. This time, if he goes in there, I'll punch him. He's not getting my shit. No way. No fuckin' way. I don't even care if he has a good reason. It's mine. I stole it. It's my ring. My problem. He catches up to me and kinda looks at me when I hesitate instead of going up the pole that'll take us outta here. Okay…maybe he won't try to steal it again. Maybe I'm just paranoid. Still, though, I like being pissed at him for whatever reason. Maybe 'cause it makes it easier to hit him. I don't think I'd hit him if I wasn't mad when he fucked up. I don't think I could do it without the adrenaline.

…He watches me grind up the pole, and I wonder if he ever thinks about hitting me back. The weird thing is…I think a part of me wishes he would. Just so I could know that I was making him tougher. Poor kid. Sometimes I really do feel bad. I'd never tell him that, though. Him, or Jazz, or anybody. I'd never say a word. I don't want them to know that I get guilty. He can know that I care, but he can't know that I'm guilty about it. For some reason, I guess I think that'd make me less of a man, or some shit. I don't know. I guess I sorta like being his role model, even though I get pissed about it at the same time. It's kinda nice to have somebody looking up to you, even if you're as much of a dick as I am. Makes you feel important. Like you really mean something to somebody else…and that's a huge deal, especially if you've never really meant anything to anybody before.

I jump off the pole on the other end of the wire and stand there quietly, waiting for him. I don't know why.