Word count: 2,300
Summary: Dan was just afraid, he thought, watching the smoke spiraling towards the ceiling, afraid of himself, afraid of what people might think. Although he was always saying he despised society, he was just afraid he wouldn't fit in it.
Disclaimer: Not mine, only playing with.
A/N: Angsty, some violence.
Dan was not really a violent person; he lived in his own little circle of arrogant, self-centered revolt. So when he jumped to his feet, one evening, and started growling and pacing the room – Jones didn't know how to react. He just pushed the volume up a bit more, to shield himself from Dan's anger. Then he could still see him gesticulate in front of him, but the only thing he could hear was the music in his headphones.
But apparently Dan really needed attention, and he needed to talk – about what, Jones had no idea and he wasn't sure he wanted to know. These days Dan seemed more and more paranoiac and persuaded that the whole world was up against him. It was becoming harder for Jones to lull him to sleep with a loud rhythm, at night.
He strode toward him and his decks, and Jones flashed him a wary smile. Dan mouthed something which looked like, "We need to talk" – and Jones knew what he really meant was, "I need someone to listen to me whining about the whole fucked up world."
He backed off a step when Dan tried to snatch his headphones. He tried again, this time leaning over the decks. Dan's hand brushed a switch and suddenly there was an explosion of noise, and white pain shot through Jones' eardrums.
He let out a high-pitched scream, which he couldn't hear, and threw himself bodily at Dan, trying to hit him, to rip his eyes out. Dan managed to hold his wrists and restrain him, and then he was babbling away, but all Jones could hear was that strident note, stuck between his ears, stuck in his brain. No reception signal, try another channel. It couldn't be happening.
He looked at Dan, who still held him tight by the arms, and on his lips he read, despite the moustache, "I'm sorry, oh shit, I'm so sorry", but his eyes weren't that sincere. He was still more preoccupied with his own little problems than with what he had just done. Jones began to tremble in Dan's grip, who released him suddenly, as if his fingers were singed.
It seemed as if all the colour had been sucked out of the world; as if he was watching a flat representation of it. A collage. Painted wall here, crappy couch there, cups of half drank coffee on the table, and a sodding bastard standing in the middle of the room. None of this seemed real anymore.
The silent DJ fled from the room, then from the House, slamming the door as he went out. Dan really wanted to follow him, to comfort him; he knew he should have, but his feet suddenly seemed rooted to the carpet.
He carried on nevertheless, hapless and alone, "Shit, Jones, I didn't mean to..." What, cripple him? Take away his only pleasure in life. Their only income – and here he was again, the abject Dan Ashcroft, being the same self centered prick.
"I don't know how you managed such a thing, but Jones finally listened to you and stopped mixing at night. I slept like a princess. Thank you very much." And with that, Claire planted a kiss on his cheek. And Dan considered for a brief second to slap her, or to shout at her, in a desperate attempt to find someone else to blame. But he didn't say anything, and just looked down his cup of coffee. Anger and self-loathing.
Jones hadn't said a word since the day before. Dan didn't know where he slept, or if he had got any sleep at all, for that matter. He was currently hunched over the coffee table, drawing doodles on a piece of paper with the concentration of a toddler, strands of brown and black and red hair obscuring his face. The silence was disturbing. It wasn't as if the exuberant DJ usually spoke a lot, or if what he said made a lot of sense, but now it was just unnerving.
If this had been any normal kind of friendship, Dan would have apologised and then at least tried to comfort Jones – asking him if you could hear anything, telling him that it was only temporary – or even maybe taken him to a doctor. If only Dan had had the courage, or the money to do any of this. Instead, Jones was sulking, apparently deaf – he would raise a hand to his ear from time to time – and Dan was angry at himself more than ever.
To say the truth, Jones was pretty much terrified. As soon as Claire and Dan had left the House he had sneaked back into what used to be his room, and just stayed there on the bed, pretending he couldn't hear a thing because of the padding on the walls.
The pain was gone, but the white noise was still there, faint but persistent, drowning every other sound. He had had to cancel a set, later in the week – had had to ask for a friend to call and cancel it. He could have asked Dan, he guessed, but it would have felt like an accusation or something. The man didn't need any more reason to feel like crap and then blame the rest of the world for it.
It was scary; all grey and silent.
He ended up rolling a spliff, sprawled on Claire's bed, feeling like a teenager whom had been sent to his room. Dan was just afraid, he thought, watching the smoke spiraling towards the ceiling, afraid of himself, afraid of what people might think. Although he was always saying he despised society, he was just afraid he wouldn't fit in it.
Jones threw another plastic toy at him – those crappy things he kept bringing back to the House for some reason unknown to Dan – and this time it hit him smack between the eyes. It didn't hurt, Jones was just teasing him, or so it seemed, but Dan had had enough. So he bent over, from the couch, and fetched a discarded shoe – Claire's – before throwing it in Jones general direction, without even raising his eyes from his newspaper. He half expected to hear a string of expletives, or to be hit again by yet another piece of rubbish. Instead, nothing happened, nothing except a soft thud.
When he raised his head, Jones was on his knees, clutching a hand to his temple, and blood seeped through his fingers. Shit, thought Dan. He rose from the couch, but Jones was quicker. Without even a glance, he was on his feet, running away, and he locked himself up in the bathroom. It's like hurting a puppy, Dan thought, and he felt something akin to shame creep inside him.
"Are you okay?" asked Claire when she came back from whatever errand she's been on – he hoped she would stop seeing Nathan fucking Barley, but he said nothing. He just threw her a wary look, and his eyes flickered towards the bathroom door. Still close.
"What is it that you've done this time?"
She sat down next to him, close, but careful not to touch him, as she knew he had never really liked human contact, and she wasn't trying anything with this look in his eyes anyways.
"Why do you care?" He sounded bitter. Maybe sad, even. "You can't stand the guy, don't tell me you're worried about him."
"I'm worried about you."
There was long pause, and neither of them wanted to start speaking again.
"I'm a jerk."
"How clear-sighted of you." She had to bite her lip to stop herself smiling wryly.
"No, but... I mean, he's... and I, I..." He was stuck in his sentence, like an old record, and his eyes flickered again in the direction of the closed door.
But Claire was already on her feet, gathering her bag and keys. "I have to go, we're finishing the editing of the film tonight." He didn't want to know who that "we" involved, he didn't want to ask why they couldn't do it during the day, like any normal people would do.
"Speak to him," she added before turning back.
Dan waited for her to close the door, listening to her light footsteps in the staircase, before he pushed himself off the couch and approached the door to the bathroom, trying unconsciously to be silent – as if it was of any use. He leant against it, listening quietly.
He stayed there for a few minutes, straining his ear but hearing nothing at all. Finally he pushed the door, tentatively at first, but it opened without any resistance, as if Jones waited for him to enter – don't be silly, Ashcroft, the last thing he probably wants right now is to see your ugly mug.
Jones was sitting on the closed lid of the toilet, holding a handful of tissues to his head, his blue eyes a bit glassy. His hair was greasy, his clothes rumpled, and he smelt of sweat; Jones had never been one to be obsessed with his appearance, but this wasn't like him at all. Jones would usually smell strawberry shampoo and only look disheveled.
Dan slowly got closer, like you would approach a wounded animal. He knew Jones had seen him enter, even if he hadn't reacted. Dan felt bad, even if it really was only an accident, this time. He cringed, thinking about these other times when he had held a pad of gauze to Jones head at odd hours of the night, after things had got a little out of hand – feeling like an abusive husband, even if they weren't, you know, a couple or anything.
Each time it had been quite the same story; they got pissed, went home, and Jones started feeling touchy. Groping, fumbling. Because of the alcohol, right? Drinking only made Dan depressed and twitchy. So each time he had pushed him away. It wasn't his fault if Jones was quite fragile and had no reflexes – shut up, Ashcroft, you sound like a monster.
His fingers were slightly shaking, he realised, so he stilled his hand before taking over the whole putting pressure on the head wound thing. Jones folded his hands on his lap and said nothing, hiding behind his fringe. As if he deserved all of this. He ought to be angry, to shout at him, maybe, thought Dan, not to be this silent and still.
Then, slowly, carefully, he washed the blood off his brow and hair, where it had begun to dry and crust.
"Look, I'm so sorry," he told him, because that seemed the right thing to say. Jones obviously hadn't heard him, so he lifted his chin ever so slightly and said it again, whispering. Jones nodded, an unreadable look in his eyes.
Jones had showered and his hair was damp and he smelt like soap. And even though Dan would never acknowledge that thought, he pretty much liked it. The DJ was nudged against him on the sofa – a little too close for his liking, but Dan hadn't felt like pushing him off. He was hot and soft. Like a huge cat, really.
"I can hear my own breathing," said Jones, and it sounded very loud for so many reasons. "It feels like someone else is living inside of me."
And Dan pretended he was too absorbed in his article to listen to him; he pretended he didn't see the doodles Jones had drawn all over the first draft of his work. He pretended he didn't like this instant.
Once again, he had reacted like a coward; once again they hadn't really talked. Maybe it was better that way, because there was no naming things.
Jones was talking again, very loudly, despite the fact that his head was pressed against Dan's side. It took a while for Dan's brain to fully register was the DJ was saying.
"I know you want to bum me, Dan. Your secret notebooks aren't hidden that well, you know. But it's alright."
"What the fuck—" Dan began, trying to push his friend off him.
"Is it what you wanted to talk about? Because I would have listen to you, eh, but now," he trailed, his voice loud and raspy, "it's going to be hard for a while."
Jones' hands were running on his shirt, under his shirt – shit. That was nice, and Dan was not supposed to find it nice. His hand shot up, and then he was squeezing Jones' throat, pushing the DJ's back against the couch. He bucked, then stilled under Dan's weight, his big eyes blue and wide. You took my music away, I blow up your lies – that was what they were saying right now.
He leant against the DJ, without even knowing what he was doing, and shut him up with a kiss.
When Claire came back it was morning, and Dan had left already. The House was unnaturally silent, and she found the obnoxious DJ asleep in the living room, sprawled on the couch with a happy smile on his face. His really bruise face, she realised with some surprise. She was not going to pity the man – Dan was right when he said she couldn't stand him – but it didn't mean she liked to see him like that.
There was an bump above his left eye, the shadow of a bruise underneath, and purple marks on his neck. But he seemed content in his sleep; peaceful with an unabashed smile. This guy was weird, she thought while brewing some tea, it wasn't really surprising his brother could stand him.