Disclaimer: In this case, I own nothing.
Author's Note: Flames are welcome. As always, you should read this with an open mind and pay attention to the rather blatant implications of slash and even slight masochism on Johnny's part. I have to thank Allison for reading this over for me and getting me to calm my shit about WTFery that makes this piece what it is. I am undecided as to whether or not this is going to be multi-chaptered or a one-shot. So just shut up, read it, and enjoy.

One| Friction

The tops of your ears are burning under a furious halo of too-bright sunlight that streaks in through a dust-stained window. Tin blinds provide no barrier between the outside world and what's inside your room because they're flimsy, bent and breaking. Too many people have passed through here, pulled the cord too roughly and jammed them into a mess of flaking paint and tangled string that refuses to be straightened out. Of all the things you could be wasting your time on, you figure this is the most unproductive, but, at the very least, it keeps your hands busy.

What you really need, though, is something to keep your mind from spinning out of control. It's running through your day, step by step, trying to weed through and pick apart concrete foundations that keep you so perfectly weighed down. Reality—something you've been trying to avoid for longer than you ever dare admit—is banging on your front door with an iron fist. It's back with a vengeance, intending to take what it figures you rightfully owe it. It's here for your sanity, and anything else you can unwillingly package up to give it is just a bonus. These little gifts are like sacrifices, tying their hunger over until the next time they think you're looking a little too comfortable in your alternative universe that you're constantly escaping to. The one part of your head you think should belong to you, and only you, but you can't even have it.

See, the only thing you do have is slit palms and fingers because of the sharp edges on these blinds. You're reaching the point where you want to board up the window and say "fuck you" to anything that's outside this room. In here is safety—it's like an indestructible steel box. The peeling wallpaper and cheap lighting are yours, and you revel in knowing that you don't have to let anyone in or share the rusted springs in your mattress if you don't want to.

Everything belongs to you. You've bent the floor to fit your footsteps and taught the dresser drawers to smoothly slide in and out of their casings for your hands only. The light knows not to flicker when you're in its midst; the hinges on the door never squeal; the walls drown out invading sounds when you're trying to sleep and let them trespass when you need a distraction. The bedding adjusts itself to your temperature while the clock keeps the time for your eyes only. When you breathe, the walls breathe, and when you scream, they scream with you. There is a mutual understanding between you and these inanimate objects that you know you'll never be able to attain anywhere else.

But despite all the knowing and the understanding, it isn't home. This is just some rundown, toxic room that contains all the things you can't, like the feeling you get in your lungs when the blinds won't give.

The synapses between your nerves send out millions of little messages without your brain's consent, and your ears zero in on the sound of worn rubber soles outside your door.

You hold your breath and brace yourself against the windowsill as the door asks you if letting this person in is all right. Without a word, you give your okay, and the floor doesn't figure it needs any sort of permission to guide these soles to where you're standing. The uneasiness of the footsteps tell you exactly who it is, and you're even more guarded than you would be if it was somebody you didn't know.

Familiarity is more dangerous than a stranger's touch. You learned that the hard way, and while you shift in front of the window, your mind starts to wander into abstract places.


"The fuck do you want, kid?" You bite down on your bottom lip and wait while a shaky breath is drawn, a coat that's too thick for this sort of weather is tossed into a corner of the room that is on temporary loan to him—only him—and those over worn shoes are kicked off and sent to join it. "Ain't you got someplace to be?"

He shakes his head. You feel like some sort of pervert, watching his reflection in the window the way you are. The way he moves reminds you of some sort of low-budget film. It's forced and awkward, but you wouldn't go as far as to say that it's unsteady because he knows what he's doing, even if he doesn't know anything else.

"If I had somewhere else to be, do you really think I'd be here?" he asks. It's an honest question shot at you with the intention of making you think. "You been livin' in this room for over a week, and I just wanted to make sure you ain't starving to death or nothin' yet."

That's not why he's here. He's blinking too fast and won't look at you—all the typical signs of a bad liar. But if you didn't know what to look for in a liar, then you would've believed him. The conviction driving his words is firm, and you can't remember when that got there.

"I reckon I ain't no worse for the wear," you tell him. "S'more than I can say for you, though, ain't it?"

"That depends on what you wanna say, Dal." He shrugs and jams his hands in his pockets as he drags his feet and stands beside you. Dark irises regard you with an endless well of questions before turning to look through the window. His pupils contract while his eyebrows give away how confused he is. He's not seeing what you've been so focused on, and you don't expect him to.

"Quit bein' a fuckin' smartass." You push yourself away from the window—away from him—and stalk over to the door. "And shut the goddamn door next time, huh? You weren't born in a fucking barn..."

When you slam it, he jumps. "I didn't come here to be yelled at, you know," he says, and you have to wonder when he got so brave.

"I know," you hiss, tightening your fists at your sides. You weren't even yelling. The wall takes on its obligatory duty of holding you up when you lean against it, and the wallpaper knows better than to crackle and grate on your nerves. "You got knocked around by your ol' man again, and now you wanna hole up here and use my bed. It's a fuckin' routine, man."

The routine—you hate it. When you both slip under the sheets and heavy comforter, you find yourselves caught in a whirlwind of heavy breathing and tangled limbs. Skin always finds a way to slide against perspiring skin while lungs and hearts sync their rhythm of breathing and beating. Lips swell and chap against tongue and teeth that tear. Nails know where to cut, drag and bruise. Blood stains fingertips, veins hum with fragments of the things fed to raw ears, and the friction of logic burns between your bones.

Tonight won't be any different. He wants a hero; you're feeling heroic. But only because it makes him think like you're capable of some emotion other than lust, or hatred, or rage. You're not. It's just you trying to tempt your way in. You've made it farther than you ever thought he'd let you.

"You know"—he presses his forehead against the window and taps his fingers against the pane—"it's supposed to rain."

"I don't give a fuck about the weather, Johnny," you tell him.

"I do." He reaches over and tugs on the cord, jiggles the blinds, and the heap of bent tin and mangled string is the straightest it's been in months. "This heat wave, man. It's gonna be the death of me."

"Don't hold your breath," you mutter.

He either doesn't hear you, or he's trying to ignore you, because he doesn't say anything. Instead, he runs his fingers along the scar over his cheek and chuckles. Something about this room makes him bold—it lets him be—and you're not sure if you like it. This is supposed to be yours, and it's nothing sacred, but you'd like to have your own headspace for once. Everywhere you go is so crowded with other thoughts that you can't even hear the voice inside your head that's constantly berating you.

"You're always holding yours." He gives you a look that tells you he wants an explanation. "Why?"

"I ain't gotta explain myself." You give him a look that tells him he better shut his mouth because you won't think twice about knocking a few of his teeth down his throat. "Especially not to a little shit like you."

"Is it really that hard to answer a fucking question, Dal?" he asks and rubs his face.

"How 'bout you tell me why you really keep comin' here, huh?" You finally push yourself away from the wall and let the floor pull you toward him. "You got that fuckin' look in your eyes like you're expectin' shit—like you actually fuckin' want it."

"What's the use in tellin' you something you already know?" He doesn't look at you because he can't, and you know he wants to hit you about as badly as you want to hit him. "Just answer the goddamn question."

"Do I fucking look like I'm not breathing, Johnny?" you growl and grab his jaw, forcing him to at least acknowledge that you're in front of him. "If I wasn't breathing, I'd be dead, don'tcha think?"

"You are dead." He swats your hand away and shoves you backwards. Everything he wants to say is etched into the way his eyes are narrowed and his lips are curled into something that's supposed to be a sneer.

"I think I'm pretty fucking alive!" You don't mean to raise your voice, but you do. There's only so much he can get away with before your patience runs out, and you're always letting him push you beyond your quota. "Last time I checked, I had a goddamn pulse."

"Yeah?" He grabs the front of your shirt and twists the fabric to the point of tearing. "And when was that?"

"Why do you give a shit?" You slip a hand in his hair and tug on it just because you can. The hiss that grates through his teeth sticks between your ears, and it's such a dirty sound. "What's it matter, huh?"

"It matters because I don't believe you," he says. "I don't wanna share a bed with someone who's dead."

"That's never stopped you before."

It hasn't. He crawls in between your sheets every night without giving it any thought, and the sounds he makes when you're hovering over him are enough to give away exactly how much he likes it there.

"That's why you're here now."

And that's where you're going to keep him.

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