A/N: I stumbled across this today when I was going through my completed works folder, and I thought I might as well pull it out to take a look at. This was written quite a while ago. I remember that I flirted with posting it and ultimately balked, because I felt that characterizations were off and that the ending was sappy and that I wasn't at all comfortable with what Jack and Davey were trying to do down there at the end. But eventually I rewrote the ending of it and now that I'm a lot happier I might as well post it to see what other people think. I'm giving you slash warnings right here and now (though the summary already warned you, so if you clicked anyway and don't like slash, it's not my fault). Any errors are one hundred percent me (but what can I say? I'm human, not a robot!), and I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: I'm fairly sure that Disney owns my soul, not the other way around.
Through the rain that plinked loudly against the slightly rusted metal of the fire-escape, he could still hear the laughter. It was a warm, comforting sound, and yet he felt nothing more than cold. Light streamed through the tightly closed windows, illuminating the misty, dark world enough so that he could see well.
He pressed his back against the solid brick exterior and pulled his knees tighter to his frame, trying to conserve his body heat. He clenched his jaw to keep his teeth from chattering as the rain poured down mercilessly; his clothes were drenched and his skin was chilled, his dark hair was plastered against his forehead. He could see himself in his mind's eye; the image wasn't impressive. It wasn't that of a strike leader or leader at all. It was the image of a stupid, half-drowned, wet and shivering teenager who had absolutely nothing.
He shifted a little and winced, hand going to his side. He couldn't see in the dim light and the rain washed everything away, but he knew that he was bleeding. He didn't know how badly, but it didn't really matter. He was sure the blade hadn't sunk too deeply into his skin; it was probably just a graze that would heal in a couple of days. But even as he tried to convince himself of that the little voice in his head called him ten kinds of fool, screaming at him to forget his pride and his utter stupidity and just knock on the window before he was dead.
A particularly fat raindrop landed on his head, racing down his spine, and he shuddered. He ran one hand across the back of his head, wincing when he came in contact with the nasty bump on the back of his skull. With a sigh he pulled his knees even closer—wincing—and buried his head. Surely it would stop raining soon. Surely the night would warm up and he would be able to get to sleep. Surely something in the world would go right.
But he didn't hold out much hope.
Suddenly there was the sound of a window sliding up and light spilled out onto the fire-escape; he jumped, startled, and his head swung around.
"You gonna sit out there all night?" David asked, half-leaning out the window.
He stared, surprise fading into confusion. "You knew I was here?"
"For about twenty minutes, Jack." David stated. "I was waiting to see how long it would take you to forget your stupid pride and just knock. But if I actually waited for your pride to run out you'd be out here all night and catch your death. So just get in the house, would ya?"
He shrank back a little. "I can't…I shouldn't be here." He muttered.
David folded his arms, scowling. "Then why are you, Jack? You haven't talked to me for months, not even when I got in your face. You just completely ignored me, turned your back. So why are you here now?"
He tried to make himself even smaller, curling up as tightly as he could, shivering from the cold, wincing from the pain. He looked down, unable to meet David's eyes. "I had nowhere else to go." He finally admitted.
"Well that's going to need some explanation, but first, can you just get the hell in here? I'm getting wet and you're already soaked."
David rolled his eyes. "Get in the house, Jack."
He began to climb to his feet and immediately winced, bending over, screwing his eyes shut and gasping for breath. David was beside him in an instant, hands steadying him. "Jack?"
"Like hell. What happened?"
"I got in a little fight is all. It happens, Dave." He shrugged off David's hands and moved forwards, breathing slowly through his nose to try and control the gasping. David hovered next to him, arms folded, eyes narrowed, waiting for him to stumble or crumble but holding off. He made it to the window, grasping the sides tightly. "Sure about this?"
"Get the hell inside, Kelley." David growled.
He climbed through the window, screwing his eyes shut. On the other side he stumbled backwards, legs crumpling beneath him. He sat on the floor, hand pressed over his wound, his head bowed, gasping.
Once again, David was there, kneeling next to him, hands reaching out.
Jack batted his hand away. "Leave it, Davey."
David scowled at him, the expression in his eyes fierce. "I know you ain't got any brains, Kelley," he said, and Jack winced, "but you came here. So shut up and let me help." He reached out again, helping him stand and stagger over to the nearest bed, sinking down. "Take off the jacket and shirt. You're soaked clean through and I can't see where you're hurt."
Jack hesitated for a moment before painstakingly peeling off his jacket, letting the wet garment fall onto the ground.
"Shirt, Jack." David ordered again, when Jack didn't move. He still hesitates and David sighed, rolling his eyes. He reached out and grabbed the bottom of the shirt, ignoring Jack's flinching and automatic stiffening. He pulled the soaked piece of fabric upwards and hissed when he saw the long gash on the side of Jack's torso. He sat back, staring at it before raising his gaze.
"Jesus, Jack." He bit out. "A little fight? This is a goddamn stab wound, you moron. Who knows how much blood you've lost?" He stood, stalking out of the room for a second, returning with a warm wash cloth and a roll of gauze. "Who'd you piss of this time?"
Jack averted his eyes and David placed the wash cloth over the wound. "Harlem."
"All of them?"
"Barton, mostly." He said, referring to the leader of Harlem. "He sent some ah his boys after me."
"So why'd you come here?"
"He's got more ah his stakin' out the house. And I ain't really in the fightin' condition."
"That still doesn't explain why you're here." Despite the anger in David's voice his hands were surprisingly gentle as he doctored the wound. "You had other places to go. Friends who you didn't just abandon." Jack made no answer and didn't look at him. "Dammit Jack! Look at me!" He threw what was in his hands to the ground, putting his hands on Jack's shoulders and violently wrenching him around. Their eyes met and the breath caught in Jack's throat.
"Why are you here?" David asked again, his voice low and intent.
"It was the first place I thought of." He said haltingly. "The first place I thought of where I might be safe."
"Then why the hell were you outside?"
Jack's gaze turned away as if of its own accord; he couldn't look at David. "I got here and I realized I couldn't come askin' you for help. I don't deserve it. But I couldn't make it anywhere else."
"So you were just gonna sit out there all night, huh? You would have died, Jack."
"S'not anything less than I deserve."
His head snapped to the side, turned by the force of David's open-handed blow. He turned to stare at the blonde teenager breathing hard in front of him.
"You're a stupid, selfish, sonofabitch, you know that Jack?"
"Yeah." He said quietly. "I do."
David continued on like he hadn't heard a word. "You've got people who care about you. People who care an awful lot, but you don't give a damn. You'd rather let yourself die than knock down that pride of yours and ask for help. You'd rather die than apologize. You'd rather sit outside in the pouring rain than own up to the things you've done!" He faced Jack down, hands balled into fists.
Jack stared at him for a long moment before he let his head drop down. "People shouldn't give a damn about me." He said, in a quiet voice. "The people who do only end up hurt."
"Then stop hurting them." David said, folding his arms. "You're an idiot, Jack. You broke my sister's heart, you completely turned your back on me, and I, stupid as it is, still care what happens to you. Just because you're not worthy of having people care doesn't mean that they stop."
"You, of all people Davey, shouldn't care about me."
"Well I do."
There was a short, pregnant pause.
"I should leave."
David rolled his eyes. "Don't be an idiot. You're staying here tonight."
"I'm not letting you die because you're uncomfortable being here. What can't handle being in the same house with the girl whose heart you broke? Or is it me that you can't be around? Feeling guilty, that I went from being your best friend to a total outcast? Feeling guilty because you turned your back on me, again?"
"I didn't mean to hurt anyone." He said in a small voice.
"Ladies and gentlemen, give the boy a prize. He didn't mean to hurt anyone!" David shot back. He stepped forwards into Jack's personal space, on finger pointed accusingly. "You did, Jack. Let's just get the whole story out, shall we? You ended it with Sarah without a word of explanation. Just up and told her that it was over. And then you walked away. Stopped talking to me, completely shut me out. Did the same thing to Sarah, to Les, to my parents. You can't even look me in the eye, Jack. So what's the story? Why'd you do it? Why did you end it with Sarah?"
He closed his eyes. "I-I'm in love with someone else."
David threw his hands up in the air. "Oh, great. You were two-timing my sister. Should I punch you now or wait until that stab wound heals up so that I can soak you without feelin' guilty?"
"I didn't two-time her." Jack said his voice low. "I never did anything. But I'm not in love with Sarah, and it wasn't fair to her to keep livin' a lie."
"So why'd you walk away from me? I could have forgiven you for that, Jack. But you just shut me out."
He grimaced as though in pain. "I had to." He said. "I-I had to, Davey."
"Why?" David jabbed him hard in the chest, making his eyes pop open. "It's one little question, Jack, so why the hell can't you answer it? You walked away from Sarah 'cause you're not in love with her. It had sure better be one hell of a person to be better than my sister."
"But why'd you turn your back on me? Didn't our friendship mean anything to you? Or is that just the Jack Kelley way—use 'em and throw 'em away when you're done?" He would have continued on but Jack's hand lashed out, grabbing his collar and hauling him close. Before David could blink, before he had time to formulate a reaction, a thought, anything, Jack's lips were smashed against his. It was anything but a gentle kiss, more brutal, bruising, and Jack's lips were thin and hard as compared to the plump, soft lips of girls.
But when Jack let go of him, when he stumbled away, he couldn't get his heart to stop racing. He shook; one hand pressed automatically against his lips as he stumbled backwards and hit the wall, sliding down to the floor. There were butterflies in his stomach, fluttering around like mad, and his heart was racing, racing, racing, pounding so fast he thought he might faint. He felt dizzy, like the world was spinning, like the floor was going to drop out beneath him.
Jack ducked his head, his hair falling to cover his face. "It's you, Davey. The person I love." He wrapped his arms around himself, one hand pressing against the bandaged wound on his side. There were goosebumps up and down his arms, partially from the cold, partially from the sheer electricity between them. "I-I didn't want to hurt Sarah." He rocked back and forth on the bed. "But I couldn't be with her when all I really wanted was you. And I couldn't have you. I can't have you." He closed his eyes tightly. "I walked away, 'cause I'm nuthin' more than a coward."
"Wh-Why didn't you tell me?" David asked in a quivering voice, still slumped against the wall.
"I'd rather have you hate me because I broke your sister's heart, than have you hate me for this."
"I don't hate you."
Jack's head swung up, his eyes full of guarded hope. "You don't?"
David shook his head. "No." He stood, still shaking, and crossed the space between them. Jack watched the distance diminish, his heart beating louder with every step, the breath catching, catching, his lungs refusing to inflate, refusing to exhale, so that he was caught in a breathless kind of limbo.
David swallowed hard and sat on the bed next to Jack, both of them turning towards each other. He lifted a hand and skimmed his fingertips lightly over the curve of Jack's cheekbones, over his chin, over his lips, down the side of his neck, finally resting at the nape of his neck. He leaned forwards, resting his forehead against Jack's, staring into his eyes.
Drowning, they thought, each unable to breath, each falling into the depths of the other's eyes, this is what it's like to drown.
"I don't hate you." Jack watched David's lips form each syllable, hearing the words without hearing them at all.
Their lips pressed together again, soft, gentle, but firm in its own way. David's fingers twirled in Jack's hair; Jack's thumb caressed just below David's ear. When they surfaced for air—surfaced like two drowning men breaking above the waterline and taking their first deep breaths of life—they didn't move apart, just rested against each other, forehead to forehead.
"Jack?" David said, after a long, quiet moment. "Don't leave again."
Jack closed his eyes and smiled, intertwining his fingers with David's. "I won't."
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