The music was so loud the house was shaking. It could be heard for miles around and suddenly, it stuttered and died. Dan looked up from his article and stared at Jones in disbelief, Jones never stopped in the middle of mixing, not for anyone. Jones just looked back, eyes burning into Dan's.
"I miss us Dan." he mumbled.
Dan nodded softly, closed his laptop and patted the sofa next to him, indicating Jones should join him. He did and Dan put his arm around the skinny shoulders, pulling him close. Jones closed his eyes and rested his head against the other man's shoulder. He knew this was as close to saying 'me too' as Dan would ever get. For a moment, a blissful, fantastical moment, it had been like it used to. Then the creaking of the front door signalled Claire's return and Dan leapt up like a scolded cat, shuffling quickly into the kitchen to make them both a coffee.
Jones sighed heavily and lifted himself laboriously from the tattered sofa. By the time Claire had walked into the living room, Jones was behind the decks punching the air. He forced a grin at Claire and yelled; "Alright."
She raised a hand and carried on into the kitchen.
"How do you put up with this noise?" she asked, slumping down into a chair and taking the coffee that was meant for Jones. Dan just grunted and sat down opposite her. He was a coward. Why couldn't he just admit to Claire his feelings for Jones? Why didn't he just explain the situation? But Dan never really did anything without prompting and Claire had never asked about Jones before. Not really asked anyway but she did now. She just looked him right in the eye and asked the utterly unanswerable question;
"Why, what?" Dan tired to sound bored and distracted but he was nervous, nervous she was going to ask him the questions he didn't want to answer and he couldn't lie. She knew when he lied.
"Why is he here?"
"I needed someone to share the rent with."
"I'm here now."
"I can't just kick him out."
"How did you even meet him?"
It felt like Dan had interviewed everyone in the world before he found Jones. There'd been the woman who thought she was some kind of witch. There was the man who'd been looking for a place to lie low. The one who'd reminded him far too much of Jonatton Yeah? And then, in had walked a quiet, pretty boy with long hair and bright clothes, who'd grinned and said; "Alright?"
"Yeah. Sit down." Dan had replied.
If the fact Jones didn't seem to belong to any sort of weird cult had been enough to persuade Dan that this was the person he wanted to share his flat with. Jones had pretty much sealed it when he'd said;
"I'm a DJ so, I work all night and sleep in the day. We'll probably never see each other. You'll hardly notice I'm there."
"What and even though he's a nightmare you let him stay?"
"I'm a what?" Jones asked, blinking in the doorway. Dan looked up, his face expressionless, Claire at least had the decency to look sorry, which is why it surprised both Ashcroft's that when Jones stormed off, Dan was the one to follow him.
Jones had slammed the door of the only bedroom and threw himself facedown onto the bed. Dan followed quietly and sat tentatively on the end of the bed.
"Are you crying?" he said. He didn't sound concerned or angry, he just wanted to know.
Jones' head shook furiously but the pillow-softened sob gave his lie away.
"Why are you crying?" Dan asked. He really didn't understand anything. Jones turned to face him, his blue eyes were bright and fantastic, the tears had smudged the black eyeliner down his face. Dan was annoyed at how Jones managed to look excellent even when in complete disarray.
Jones stared at Dan and said; "Why can't you just tell her the truth?"
"She wont care Dan."
"No one will care."
"I… they… I'm protecting you." Dan blurted out.
"Protecting me? From what?"
"Dan, I don't care about the damn idiots! I just care about you."
"And I care about you."
"So tell Claire… tell someone." Jones was almost begging now.
"Why do they have to know?" Dan cringed as he spoke, he wasn't sure why he was so desperate to keep him and Jones a secret but he was so desperate he all but ignored him when anyone else was around.
"Dan." Jones sighed suddenly.
"What?" Dan managed to snap, as though he has any right to be angry. The younger man jumped a little but he just took a deep breath and spoke slowly.
"I'm not supposed to be locked up in a tower like a princess in fairy tale. I'm supposed to be displayed proudly on someone's arm."
Jones just nodded, "It doesn't have to be you." he whispered. "I'm not going to wait until you're big enough to tell your family, your sister or even yourself that you're gay."
"D'you know what happens to those princess' when they lock 'em in towers?"
"Do they die of starvation?"
"No. A prince comes and rescues them."
"What are you trying to say?"
"I'm a DJ Dan, every time I do a gig, I get offers."
Dan could feel the anger rising up to his chest and tightening around his heart.
"What kind of offers?"
"You know what kind." Jones sighed, going to check his face in the mirror. "And I always say 'no' but…" he trailed off.
"But, what?" Dan was stood now, he didn't know what to say or what to do. He wanted to tell Jones that he couldn't stand the thought of him with anybody else, he wanted to tell Jones that he loved him. He wanted to tell everyone but he was a coward, so he played dumb and allowed his cowardice to push away the only thing he had going for him.
"But," Jones answered, more quietly still, "I guess, if we're pretending we don't like each other then, they're free game, right?"
NO! You're mine. Don't you dare. Dan thought.
"Yeah, I guess that's exactly what it means." Dan said.
He saw something in Jones' eyes flicker and die but then he just smiled and said; "Okay. I've got a gig now, might not be back tonight." He gave a suggestive wink and swanned off into the darkness on the evening outside.
"Is he okay?" Claire asked as Dan reappeared.
"He's… erm, yeah. He's fine." Dan said and slumped down onto the sofa, running his hands down his face exasperatedly.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
"Liar." she scowled, but she left it there and went to Barley's to do some editing.
Suddenly, in the quiet of the empty house Dan felt incredibly melancholy. He looked at the massive photo of Jones' face on the wall and a small smile crept sneakily onto his face as he remembered the day Jones had first moved in.
It had been raining, pouring even. It had been icy cold and sleet and hail coming down, integrating itself within the torrents of rain. Dan had been reading a book, he couldn't remember what but it wasn't particularly good that didn't stop him, however, on hearing the endless ringing of his doorbell, forcing his way through another three pages before dragging him self to his feet an opening the front door.
"HEY!" beamed a soaking wet Jones, handing him a massive picture of his own head. "I was beginning to think you weren't in."
"What the hell is this?" Dan asked, staring at the multi-coloured portrait.
"My mate drew it for me. Good in it?" he laughed pulling the same pose. Dan thought the effect was somewhat dampened by the fact Jones' hair was plastered to his face and he had a raindrop hanging off the end of his nose.
"Can you take that in for me? I'll get the rest of my stuff."
Dan took the picture in and dumped it by the wall before settling down to read more of the terrible book. He was vaguely aware of Jones popping into the room every few minutes with another soaking wet box, or some animal print bag or something in a silver suitcase, which made it look expensive. By Jones' fourth or even fifth appearance Dan knew he should really offer to help but he was cosy in here and it was cold and wet out there and anyway, how much more stuff could a twenty-something DJ from London possibly have. A lot, it turned out. On his tenth trip Jones finally spoke.
"Could you give me some help?" he panted, as he carefully placed a large, bubble wrapped speaker onto the floor.
"You seem to be managing."
"Yeah, but I gotta get the rest of my equipment and I can't carry 'em by myself."
Dan groaned loudly and made a big show of shutting his crap book as he rose slowly to his feet.
"Oooor." Jones started, "if you're busy I could get some mates to help me with it tomorrow but I don't really wanna leave it in the van." Jones jigged nervously from one foot to the other.
"I'm up now." Dan had concluded and followed the smaller man outside into the rain. Jones' decks were huge, an unbelievably heavy and it didn't help that there was stuff stuck on all over the place. As they edged carefully towards the front door Dan found himself being constantly smacked in the eye with the leg of a Barbie doll.
They'd taken four trips to get it all in to the house and by the time they'd finished Dan was soaking wet, his hands were stinging from the friction of the decks, his arms felt like they'd left his sockets and his back ached. But, just when he was about to start moaning Jones had thrown his skinny arms around Dan's body and said; "Thank you." before skipping off to get a knife to remove the bubble wrap from the speakers.
Dan almost laughed as the memory of sitting up all night, talking and popping bubble wrap (as a necessity of course, it simply wouldn't have fitted in the bin otherwise) with Jones. He remembered the stories Jones had told about his old flat mates and about gigs he'd done, his fashion disasters and relationship mishaps. He'd spoken about how many times he'd fallen to get to where he was now and laughed when Dan had asked where that was exactly. And then, he turned to Dan and said;
"So what about you? How did you get to this point?"
Dan hadn't answered. He couldn't answer because the answer to 'how did you get this point?' isn't supposed to be 'I don't know'.
Suddenly, Dan grabbed his mobile and rang Jones. Answer phone, of course it was, he'd be working. He hung up, he didn't like leaving voice mail, he never knew how to end them properly or what to say. He always ended up sounding like he wasn't sure how to speak. Instead he sent a text.
Date: 15/ 4/2005
Come home. We need to
His thumb wavered over the send button and then, on a bit of a whim, he added: "I have bubble wrap." Then, he waited. He rung his hands nervously, staring at the phone, willing it to ring. Every few seconds he'd pick it up, just in case he'd missed the buzzing, the flashing of lights and the retched ring tone when he'd blinked. No reply came and eventually Dan drifted off to sleep.
When Claire had returned from Barley's, she'd found Dan sleeping awkwardly on the sofa, his phone flashing melodically in his grip. She prised it from his fingers and read the screen.
1 missed call Jones
1 new message Jones
View new message
Claire looked at the screen and then at her brother. 'View new message'; it wasn't even a question. It was telling her to look, ordering her… so she looked.
How much bubble wrap?
She frowned, that didn't make any sense whatsoever. She was about to explore her way through the rest of his messages, all of which were from Jones, when a bark-like cough came from the sofa. She looked down. Dan was digging his knuckles into his eyes to force away the sleep and when he opened his eyes again he blinked and asked;
"What are you doing with my phone?"
"Jones text you."
Dan's heart froze and jumped and probably stopped. Dan was furious with it, he was far too old for his heart to be leaping around like a teenager with a crush.
"Here." she passed him the phone. "It doesn't make any sense. I think he got the wrong number."
"You read it!?" Dan asked, snatching it from her hand and reading it quickly. Phew, he thought, it wouldn't make any sense to Claire.
"Yeah, is that a problem?""Don't touch my stuff." Dan growled, lying back in the sofa and composing a reply.
He was supposed to be a writer but he could for the life of him write the reply. He felt like this was the most important thing he'd ever written, a couple of lines on a virtual medium. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. Then he decided he needed a drink. After almost half a bottle of whiskey the words flowed easily but the letters jumped all over the screen and he couldn't manage to put them back in the right places.
What he'd tried to write was;
I'm sorry. I love you. I need you Jones, you're the only thing in my life that makes sense and if you want me to tell Claire, I will.
What he actually wrote was;
H'm sorpy. I lote yo. H medd you Jones, meu're tge molz think in my kiee thct makd cents bne ge you wbnt me twoo uelk Claire, I will.
I wanted to write more Dan and Jones =]
Umm, it jumps back and fore a little bit and I'm not sure how clear it is to follow so reviews would be lovely!
Thanks for reading!