May 6, 2010: And... here's that little ficlet that was distracting me from finishing the last fic. O_O Chibi-George! *squee!*

Fandom: Hair, the musical: 2009 Revival
Pairing: Erm... no pairing. O_O Not really.
Rating: PG -- and only for some cursing.
Word Count: 2,833
Warnings: Erm... yeah, no. ^_^

Disclaimer: Neither the musical nor the boys belong to me, if they did they'd be groping each other on sta--. *pause* *blinkblink* Huh. Look at that... they do. *eg* :D ((Hair was written by James Rado and Gerome Ragni with music by Galt MacDermot.))

And do remember... comments and reviews are love! ^_^

Don't Put It Down
by Renee-chan

Why was it that whenever you most needed a little sister to be quiet, the volume of her complaints would raise to decibels that rivaled an airplane taking off? Finally, unable to think of anything else to do, he grabbed his little sister tight to his chest, clamped a hand over her mouth and whispered harshly in her ear, "Sammy! For G-d's sake, shut your mouth! You'll get your hot dog! We just have to wait until Mom and Dad aren't watching, OK?"

The flailing arms threatening to pop him one in the nose slowly ceased their waving, the body in his arms slowly relaxed and the air raid siren level shrieking dropped several decibels to become irritated mumbling. Still, he held onto her for a few moments more, wary of that possibly false sense of security. Another minute passed with nothing more happening than her sticking out her tongue to lick the hand covering her mouth. He wrinkled his nose and said, "Seriously... gross. But I'm not falling for that one, Sammy. I'm older than you and I'm smarter and I know that trick." When she subsided again, he finally let her go.

Immediately upon her release, she blew him a raspberry, yelled, "I'm telling Dad what you did!" and took off through the crowd to reach their parents. When she got there and started pointing at him and gesticulating wildly, his father frowned. His mother, on the other hand, put a gentle hand on his father's arm and whispered something in his ear. When his father sighed and slumped, he knew his mother had won. She usually did. Moments later, she left her husband and younger child to join him where he was still standing by the park bench where he and Sammy had been left when his parents got in line to buy tickets for the carousel.

When she reached him, she gave him a gentle smile and ran a hand through his hair, "I appreciate your patience. I know that you're a little old for merry-go-rounds."

Cheeks warming in the face of her ready understanding, he scuffed a shoe along the ground, "It's no big deal, Mom. I know how much Sammy loves it. Besides, it's tradition, right?"

Elaine rested a hand on her son's cheek and gave it a soft pat, "You're a good boy, George. Your father and I are very proud of you. You know that, right?" At her son's embarrassed nod, her smile widened, "Good. Now, how about this? Jack and I will keep Samantha with us for a few minutes and you can..." At that point she slipped a few dollars into his hand and winked.

"Mom! I can't take this!"

George tried to give the money back but his mother was having none of it, "Nonsense. Every time we come into the city your sister cons you into spending your allowance to get her a hot dog. I've watched it for years and said nothing, but George... you're fourteen, now. Almost a man. You should be saving that money up to use for yourself. So, just this once, let me help out, OK?"

Ducking his head in embarrassment, George sighed and shoved the money into his pocket. What was one to do with one's parents, after all? And if his father didn't have much luck winning against his mother... he didn't have a prayer. Brushing a kiss against his cheek, Elaine went back over to her husband and daughter, leaving George alone.

What he should do was walk over to the hot dog cart, buy his sister her hot dog and come back to take the exuberant ten year old off his parents' hands. Lately, though, he'd felt this almost compulsive need to do things he shouldn't. It was irritating, like the feel of an itch that was just out of reach... this need to rebel. It had started with little things, almost inconsequential things: doing his math homework in pen, wearing jeans to family dinners, staying out 10 minutes past curfew. This last year, though, it had been growing. He'd tried to talk to his mother about it, but that had quickly proved pointless. After all, how could he explain it to her if he couldn't even explain it to himself? All he knew was that for the last year or so, he'd been unsettled in his own skin and it was making him more and more irritable with each passing day. And he didn't know what to do to make it stop.

His friends were getting the worst of it, feeling the lash of his temper on those days when his skin didn't fit right. He felt bad for it, but what could he do? He didn't even know what was wrong and he couldn't predict when that feeling of wrongness was going to make him lash out. He spent most of his energy keeping it contained around his family, but it was getting harder and harder to do. Their bi-yearly day trip into Manhattan had been a welcome distraction, but being in the company of his family for the entire day with no escape in sight had been harder than he'd expected. The last thing he wanted, however, was to disappoint his parents, so he'd been doing his best to stay in control and not show them how frayed the edges of that control really were.

Sighing, he shoved his hands in his pockets and meandered in the general direction of the hot dog cart. When he reached it, of course, there was a line halfway down the block. Looking down at his watch, he cursed. It was lunch hour, so there would be a line. He should have remembered that. Grumbling irritably, he got in the queue to be served and resigned himself to spending the next twenty minutes standing in line in the hot summer sun.

When he finally reached the front of the line, he counted out the money his mother had given him and discovered that there was enough for two hot dogs. Smiling indulgently, he took the hint. Usually he and his sister shared one -- that enabled them to eat it more quickly and avoided possible appetite spoilage. Apparently his mother was planning on running interference for him. And well... it was lunchtime. They'd have hours to digest before dinner.

Taking the first hot dog from the vendor, he couldn't help the grin as the smell reached his nostrils. There was just something about a New York City hot dog... He was just putting it to his lips to take a bite when someone's arm caught his attention. It wasn't a particularly special arm. In fact, it was fairly scrawny and a bit hairy, but other than that, was nothing spectacular. So why did it catch his attention? It had stolen his second hot dog! He whipped around to stare up at the owner of the arm in disbelief as the other boy had the gall to wink and thank him, just before taking a large bite out of the pilfered frankfurter. When he saw George staring at him, he offered him a sheepish grin, then took off.

For a moment, all George could do was gape. The wild stranger that had been living in his skin for this last year was demanding that he go after the other boy. However, the more practical side of him -- the side that was a reliable son, a responsible older brother -- won out. He turned back to the vendor to ask if he could have a third hot dog to replace the one that was stolen, but the man sadly shook his head and said, "Sorry, kid. No can do. I'm not allowed to give out free hot dogs. One'll have to be enough unless you can afford another one."

Now irritated, and hungry on top of it, George just shook his head and left the hot dog stand. He could wait until dinner. One missed meal wouldn't kill him. Just as he got to the edge of the crowd around the cart, however, that long arm was back and plucked his other hot dog right out of his hand! Now that... that was just mean! It was one thing to steal his hot dog, but to steal his sister's?? Oh, hell no! This time he gave the wildness inside him free rein and took off after the other boy. And damn was he fast! Those long legs gave him a supremely unfair advantage.

They were deep into the forested trails of Central Park by the time George caught up with the older boy. With a feral yell, he leapt and tackled the thief to the ground. They rolled over and over, each trying to get a good enough hold on the other to actually do some damage. Unfortunately, the lanky, long-haired youth clearly had more experience with this kind of fighting than the well-brought up George. He quickly gained the upper hand, straddling the younger boy's hips and fisting his hands in his shirt. Rather than beating him bloody, though, as George expected, once he had him pinned to the ground, he simply tilted back his head and... howled? What the hell?

It was a strange sound, full of joyous abandon, and the wild stranger living in George's skin... good G-d, he wanted to answer that call in kind. It terrified him. He didn't know this boy, had no idea who he was or where he came from, and he'd started out this chase wanting to beat the ever-living tar out of him. Now... G-d, something about that howl... it woke something inside him. He didn't know what it was calling him to do, only that whatever it was was a little... crazy. Heart racing and face flushed, George bucked the older boy off him and scrambled back a few feet, breathing ragged and harsh as he fought within himself not to do whatever that howl was demanding he do.

Green eyes met hazel across the width of the path and the hazel eyes looked away first. The older boy wordlessly picked up the hot dog from where it had fallen in the scuffle and held it out to him in silent apology. George just groaned and dropped his head. It was covered in dirt and just... mashed. He'd never hear the end of it if he tried to give it to his sister, now. Wearily, he shook his head and resignedly reached for his wallet to see if he actually did have enough to cover the cost of another hot dog. But... What the hell, again?? Where the fuck is my wallet? George frantically searched his pockets, pulling them inside out in his panic, and finally coming to the horrified conclusion that after fourteen years' experience in the city... of course, today would be the day he would fall victim to a pickpocket.

"Fuck!" Dropping back to the ground, George buried his head in his hands and tugged at the short strands of his hair. Could this day possibly get any worse? Drawing his knees up to his chest, he buried his face in them, hands crossed over the back of his head as though to protect it. He could almost feel it -- the events of the day battering against his already too fragile control. He was going to do something stupid... he just knew it. Jesus, George. It's not the end of the world. Get a hold of yourself! Fuck. Fuck.

A tentative tap on his shoulder brought his head back up. Staring into sad hazel eyes, he growled out, "And what the fuck do you want, already? Haven't you screwed with me enough, yet?"

And, wonder of wonders, this time the other boy actually spoke. George was surprised at the light, soothing tenor that emerged, hesitant, from the older boy's lips, "I'm sorry. I... I was just hungry." Ducking his head, the other boy almost mumbled the next words, "I didn't think you'd miss them." He then pulled a wallet out of a pocket in his furred vest and handed it over. It was George's.

George grabbed it from him and immediately opened it to count the money. All there. Nothing missing. Sighing, he lowered his legs and let his arms drop to rest on them. Of course, now that he could get a good look at the other boy, he felt like a heel. His jeans were ripped and torn, patched creatively in a few places where a hole would be... improper. He wore a sleeveless vest with a piece of fur sown around the edges -- real or not, he couldn't tell. He had no shoes. And he looked... really dirty. Though, as he glanced ruefully down at himself, he had to admit that that he didn't look much cleaner after that scuffle in the dirt. The boy had wide hazel eyes and soft-looking blond hair that fell to his shoulders. And his first impression had been correct -- the other boy was almost painfully thin. Shit.

And now those hazel eyes were looking soulfully up into his as though begging forgiveness. It made George feel like he'd kicked a puppy. Sighing heavily, he extended his hand, "No harm done, I guess. I'm George Berger. Who are you?"

The soulful gaze suddenly turned shy, but he still extended a hand to clasp his in return, "Neil. Neil Donovan. I... I really am sorry."

Chuckling softly to himself, George got to his feet and dusted himself off as best he could, "Like I said, no harm done." Then, the responsible side of his nature squalling in protest, he asked, "Look... are you still hungry, man? One hot dog doesn't exactly fill my belly."

Dear G-d. No one's eyes should look that much like a cocker spaniel's... and one that had been left out in the rain, no less. The older boy tentatively nodded, stomach growling in counterpoint.

George sighed, "Yeah... somehow that's what I thought." He started walking back up the path, only realizing that the other boy wasn't with him when he heard the quiet whimper from behind him. Turning, he saw Neil staring at the discarded hot dog and licking his lips. He walked back over and took the older boy's hand, firmly saying, "No. That's disgusting. Come on. I'll get you another one, OK?"

Neil stared down at the hand wrapped around his for a minute, then lifted his eyes to lock with George's. Staring into that trusting hazel gaze, George finally understood something that his mother had tried to teach him years ago -- why you shouldn't feed a stray. Of course, she'd tried to explain that to him as he helped her put out the leftovers from the last night's dinner for all the neighborhood cats, so the lesson hadn't exactly stuck.

Seeing the trust and the beginnings of adoration in the older boy's eyes, George's heart gave an uncomfortable lurch. He wasn't worthy of that much feeling. He wasn't that good. He wasn't that perfect. He was anything but... and he was becoming less with each passing day. But Neil didn't know that. So, maybe, just maybe, for this one person at this one time, he could still live up to that image of perfection reflected back at him from those trusting eyes. Maybe for him... for now... he could hold on a little longer.

Tugging gently at the hand in his, he offered the other boy a gentle smile, "Let's get you something to eat."

And the smile that Neil turned on him... it made the whole crappy day worthwhile. It was like watching the sun rise. It was beautiful. And it calmed the remaining vestiges of the wild stranger's berserker tendencies. Heart giving another uncomfortable lurch, George took his hand back so he could count his money again. Giving a self-deprecating sigh, he concluded that he had just enough to cover a hot dog for his sister, two more for Neil... and passage on the ferry to come back later on in the week. He couldn't have explained why he knew he would need it... except that there was something about Neil. There was something about the older boy that had a soothing effect on the wild demon living inside him. And he had a feeling that he would need all the help he could get to keep that beast under control. So, he would do as his mother said from now on and save up his allowance. He'd need it if he was going to keep visiting.

And as Neil raced to catch up to him and take back the hand that George had pulled away, the younger boy couldn't help but smile. He didn't fully understand the connection that had spontaneously sprung up between them, but he did understand one thing: He would come back, because he suddenly understood that he needed Neil as much as Neil needed him.


Berger: *sweatdrop* I... when the hell was I ever that responsible?

Woof: *guilty look*

Berger: *twitch* Oh, for goodness' sake. It's still not your fault.

Woof: ;_;

Berger: *sigh* Hot dog?

Woof: *perks up*

Berger: *twitch* Thought so. *leans back* Hey, Claudio! Can I borrow some money?

Claude: *sweatdrop* What for?

Berger: To buy Woof a hot dog!

Claude: *comes out from the other room* *rae* Why can't he buy his own?

Berger: *smirk* Tradition.

Claude: O_o;;; You know what... I just don't want to know.