June 12, 2010: Yeah... that sure took me long enough, didn't it? Writing has not been going well the last few weeks. *sigh* Fortunately, that seems to be over. ^_^ 3200 words yesterday, 2100 words this morning... It's been a good weekend. ^_^ Enjoy! Part two to come sometime this weekend, maybe Monday. Going to be a little hectic around here. :-P Hope you like!
Fandom: Hair, the musical: 2009 Revival
Pairing: *sweatdrop* All over the place. Berger x Woof, Berger x Jeanie, Berger + Sheila. *chuckles* Berger was gettin' around this fic... ^_^
Word Count: 8,640
Warnings: Slash. ^_^ Got the gen out of my system with the last fic. ^_^
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! ^_^
"And another one bites the dust, eh?"
Woof turned his head sideways to regard his friend as he spoke. George had changed since that day two years ago when they'd met. He'd gotten rougher, wilder, far more impulsive. And Woof was honest enough with himself to admit that he wasn't always sure he liked the changes. He missed the almost wide-eyed innocence that his friend had had when they first met. In a way, he'd been Woof's guardian angel, an untouchable saint. He missed that steady surety of his friend's support... the certainty that George could protect him, provide for him. Oh, he still took care of Woof, made sure he had enough to eat, kept him company in whatever park he had chosen to call home that week, but it was different, now. These days, more often than not, George needed a fair amount of looking after, himself. It was as though he'd fragmented into pieces and was no longer strong enough to hold all those pieces together. So, he just let them go to fall where they would, like he didn't care. Woof worried that he might even be losing a few along the way. He seemed to lose touch with reality sometimes and keeping him grounded was becoming a full-time task, one that Woof wasn't sure he was up to. For his friend's sake, though, he did the best he knew how.
George smiled from the rock he was sprawled out on and reached out a hand to tug playfully at the strands of Woof's hair, "School year, Woof. The school year. Done. Finito. Fait accompli." Cackling softly, he added, "No more school, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks, man. Even passed all my classes. No summer school. I'm free and clear until September."
Woof smiled, ducking his head sheepishly, "Oh." Unspoken was the fact that George's passing shouldn't have even been in question. Jesus... he'd been an honor roll student when they met. Now... In the privacy of his own mind, Woof wondered at how far the mighty had fallen and how quickly.
George just laughed again as he rolled himself back upright and pulled the older boy's face close to his to plant a kiss on his forehead, "I'm all yours for the summer, man." Smiling wickedly and wagging his eyebrows, he said, "So, whatever shall we do with all that time?"
When Woof ducked his head again, George just smiled sadly. The younger boy tucked a finger under the elder's chin to force his gaze back up and, for just a moment as their eyes met, Woof caught a glimpse of the boy he'd met two years ago in that gaze - the strong one who could take care of everything, the one who worried... the one who cared. Quietly, that boy asked, "Seriously, man. If you could pick one thing you could do this summer, what would it be?"
Meeting that look for so long was already more than Woof could handle and he ducked his eyes again, muttering, "It doesn't matter. You... you should ask one of the others. Maybe Jeanie? Jeanie always has good ideas. Or Hud. He always knows what to do. They would be better."
George's lips pulled down into the frown he wore on those few occasions when he actually made the effort to gather a few of the pieces of himself back together. Woof fretted as he saw it. George would do his best, would rein the pieces back in for him, for today, for this week, who knew? But in the end it would just fragment him further. He'd probably lose it for days after this. But Woof wouldn't waste it... not when he was so selfishly glad to see it, not when he missed this side of his friend so very badly, not when he was the only one George made the effort for anymore. George grabbed his shoulders and gave him a gentle shake, "Neil, I'm not asking Jeanie or Hud or any of the others. I'm asking you. Today, I'm here for you, OK? Like old times."
That earnest plea capped off with his given name was the final straw. Woof never could deny his friend anything he truly wanted. And when what he wanted was Woof, himself? Yeah. He didn't stand a chance. Like a lovesick schoolgirl. Finally giving in to the inevitable, Woof said, "Well... I've always wondered about the ocean..." At George's incredulous look, he explained, "Well, you talk about it all the time - how big and blue it is. And sand! I've never really seen sand except in a sandbox..."
George held up a hand to put a stop to what looked to turn into an impressive spate of babbling, "Wait a minute. Woof... you've never been to the beach? You live on an island, for Christ's sake!"
Face heating, Woof ducked his head again, unable to answer. He'd known it was stupid even when he opened his mouth. Maybe he shouldn't have said anything.
As though sensing the direction Neil's thoughts had turned, George placed another gentle kiss on his friend's brow, "Hey, man, lighten up. It's not dumb or anything. I was just surprised, is all. You want to go to the beach? We'll go to the beach." Smile stretching from ear to ear, he slapped Woof on the back, "Hell, we'll be just like a pair of normal kids! That's what they do, right? School's out, they hit the beaches to catch waves and ogle the chicks in their swimsuits, right?"
Woof shrugged, having no more idea than George did what "normal" kids did once school let out, but willing to go along with whatever his friend wanted, especially now that George was getting into the spirit of the idea, "We'll catch the ferry back over, spend the day at the beach, then sleep out under the boardwalk! Sounds kinda romantic, doesn't it?"
Woof had to confess that it did. Really, he'd never thought of other men that way before meeting George. To be fair, though, he didn't think George had really though of other men that way, either, until meeting him. But neither could resist the pull they felt towards each other, like the giant hand of fate had been guiding them both to look beyond their boundaries to find something great. And it was... great. But Woof knew something the other boy didn't: that George wasn't his to keep. That great hand was at work, even now, stirring the pot. He could feel it. But, like always, he let himself get swept along, trusting that it would all turn out well in the end. The alternative was unthinkable.
George looked over to the right and couldn't help the small smile that crept across his face. Woof was like a little kid in so many ways, this was just another to add to the list. He was crouched down on the floor of the ferry, clutching the railing and leaning his head through the bars to look down at the water, his expression full of awe and excitement. Such a small thing, really, the excitement of a ferry ride. It was something George took for granted, more often than not.
Grasping the side rail, George climbed up the railings to stand on the top one. It was dangerous... and it was thrilling. Nothing between him and a drop into the waves but open ocean air. He'd only have to let go. Turning his gaze outward, he watched as the surging of the waves fought with the wake of the ferry. Ultimately, the ocean always won. These man-made waves were weak, easily swallowed in the power of the real thing. And that surging... he could feel it inside himself, too. The power of the primal, the beast, the wild urges fighting to break down the man-made constructions of social niceties, civility and formal education. Nature would win in the end, he knew. He could feel it, just like he could feel each and every one of those waves as it rocked against the ferry.
A hand clutching in his jeans brought his attention back to the here and now. Woof was looking up at him, an expression caught between awe and worry resting uneasily on his face. The older boy often looked at him like that. Wordlessly reaching his free hand down, he tugged at Woof's hand, trying to get him to come up onto the railings next to him.
After a moment's indecision, Woof capitulated and climbed up onto the rung below the top one, trusting like he always did, that George wouldn't let him fall. Once George was sure the other boy had a good grip on the side rail, he let go of his hand. Bad choice. Panic flared in Woof's eyes and he immediately reached down and clutched that hand around the top railing. An awkward position at best, and one in which he could too easily overbalance. That would never do. Reaching down, George took Woof's hand back into his and pulled him back upright. Once the other boy was stable again, he pulled him closer and wrapped that arm around his own waist, then wrapped his arm around Woof's waist in turn. Gratefully, he felt the other boy relax against him. That was better. He might be losing his fight against his own nature, but he could still take care of his friends. He needed Woof to know that. He needed...
A particularly strong wave knocked against the ferry, but George stood firm. Today was for Woof. Today was for Woof. Today was for Woof. It wasn't for him. Today wasn't about what George needed. It was about what Woof needed. And Woof needed him to be strong. So, he would be strong. He would stand fast against the waves for one more day. He would hold them both against the undertow. He would be a pillar. Someday - someday soon, he thought - he would get dragged under by this thing, but not today.
Woof tucked his head under George's chin and sighed in contentment, happy and comforted. And feeling the warmth of his friend tucked against him, George also felt himself relax. Turning his gaze back outwards he stared out at the ocean and firmed his resolve. No... not today. Not today at all.
When they got to the beach, Woof was even more like a little kid than he had been on the ferry. He ran here and there on the boardwalk, pointing at people and shops and exclaiming over every little thing. George didn't think he'd ever seen the older boy that excited. When they reached one of the ramps down to the actual beach, Woof looked back at him over his shoulder, hazel eyes shining with joy. George smiled back and gestured broadly that he should head on down.
Once the other boy reached the sand, he paused only long enough to shuck off his jeans and vest before catapulting down towards the water. George snickered, glad that he'd thought to stop at his house to steal a couple of pairs of swim trunks. Otherwise, Woof probably would have taken off everything. Not that George would have minded... but everyone else probably would have been shocked. And the cops tended to frown on that sort of thing. This wasn't that sort of beach and neither of them needed to spend the night in lock-up.
George stripped off his own clothes and gathered up Woof's, rolling them into a bundle and tucking them under his arm. He'd worry about what to do with them when he got closer to the water. It wasn't like he had the money to pay for a locker for the day, anyway. Shrugging off the issue, George resumed his trek. When he reached the shore, it was to see quite an amusing sight. Woof was standing at the edge of the water, taking an occasional step forward then dancing backwards every time a wave crept close to his toes. The look on his face, however, was one of pure delight.
Before George could even consider going over to help, assistance arrived in an unexpected form. A bright-eyed, blonde-haired girl in pigtails and a dark blue bathing suit boldly stepped up to Woof and tapped his elbow. Woof jumped, but quickly calmed when he saw who had touched him - the girl couldn't be more than ten and was surely no threat. She gestured at the water, then at their feet, then back at the water. George settled down in the sand to watch the pair. Woof was listening attentively and nodded at the end of the explanation. Woof then gingerly held out his hand to the girl. Once she was satisfied, she took a firm grip on Woof's hand and led him into the water.
George couldn't help but laugh at the look of shock on the older boy's face. He knew how cold that water could be this early in the season, but he hadn't thought to warn Woof. Oops. The girl didn't let him backpedal out of the water again, though. She tugged insistently at his arm to pull him further forward, past the first set of breakers. That was the point where George's enjoyment turned to worry. He was pretty sure Woof didn't know how to swim...
Just as he was getting to his feet, however, a soft voice off to his right caught his attention, "Patty's a pretty strong swimmer and she's older than she looks. And she's a junior lifeguard this year. Your friend's in good hands. If I were you, I'd worry more about what someone would do with your clothes if you left them unattended."
George turned, easily distracted by the promise of that husky alto voice. He wasn't disappointed. Long, lean legs met lusciously curvaceous hips at a slim waist, covered in a dusky pink bikini bottom. He raised his eyes a little further only to feel something tap him under the chin and force his gaze upwards past the chest to meet a pair of warm, brown eyes. Those eyes rested above full, rose-colored lips now widened in a knowing smile, "I'm up here, sugar."
Unaccountably, George felt himself blush. Something about this woman's self-assurance was knocking him off his usual game. A laugh rolled from her lips as she shook back her shoulder-length brown hair, "Oh, Georgie, you are priceless. Don't remember me, do you?"
Now feeling thoroughly out-of-sorts and more than a little miffed, George sat back on his heels and frowned, "Clearly you've got me at a disadvantage, sweetheart. You got a name?"
She smirked, "Of course I do, but telling it to you would be cheating, wouldn't it? How about just a first letter?" At the deepening frown on George's face, she let out another of those velvety smooth laughs. Meeting his eyes, she leaned in close to whisper in his ear, "It's 'D.' That help, sugar?"
One of his fractured pieces floated by, luring him with a hint of knowledge. He teased it closer, trying to get a better look. And it was enough. Taking in the woman's appearance one more time, his eyes widened, "Donna! Paul Mitchell's older sister, right?" Mouth dropping open in an aghast expression, he whispered in horror, "Jesus, you used to babysit me! What the hell are you doing here? And in a bikini? Shouldn't you cover that thing up?"
Watching him get more and more frantic, Donna just laughed harder, "Oh, Georgie... Just as cute as you ever were. I'm here getting a tan and watching my younger cousin teach your friend to swim. A bikini is appropriate attire for that activity in this location and it's the 60's man - a girl can wear what she wants."
Still trying to calm the blush, George cleared his throat, "Yeah, I... I guess you're right. None of my business, huh?"
Donna smiled and reached out a hand to pat his cheek, "No harm done. I suppose it's always a little scary to realize that you're now old enough to be attracted to people you once thought of as 'way older than you.' I believe those were your words on the matter, once?"
Blush flaring anew, George shrugged, "What was I, eight, when I said that? Kids are dumb. They're not supposed to know any better."
Donna smiled gently, "No, I suppose they're not." Eyes understanding, she added, "Look, I'll be sitting here for a while, so why don't I watch your clothes so you can join your friend? It looks like he and Patty started a splashing match... and I think she's winning."
Grateful to get out of the awkward situation, George smiled a thank you and did just as suggested. By the time he reached the water, poor Woof was thoroughly water-logged and extremely happy to get the much needed assistance. For a moment, George felt bad about the two of them ganging up on a little kid, but when he saw what a strong swimmer she really was and how much of an advantage that was giving her, his conscience gave up the fight without a qualm. Twenty minutes later, he was also water-logged and they conceded that the match was a draw. His ego didn't much appreciate that, but his roused common sense got the better of it. Probably a good thing.
Patty told George that she was trusting him to look after her new friend and headed back up to the towel to dry off and get a drink. George swam over to where Woof was relaxing back into the gentle swell of the waves and edged himself behind his friend. Woof just smiled and let himself be pulled back to rest against George's chest, head on his friend's shoulder.
George leaned down to plant a soft kiss on his lips, "Good day, Woof?" Nodding vigorously, Woof tucked his face against his friend's neck. George smiled, "I'm glad."
They stayed like that, safely past the breakers and gently drifting in the waves, for another thirty minutes. George then pushed Woof back upright, "Come on, man. I'm starting to wrinkle. We should go dry off."
Woof let out a heavy sigh but acquiesced. George just laughed and poked him in the shoulder, "We can come back, you know. We've got all summer."
Woof just slid him a melancholy smile and started steadily making his way back towards the sand. George didn't like that look, didn't like it when he sensed Woof giving up on something before he'd even tried to fight for it. And that was what this felt like. Woof giving up. Damn it. He followed his friend up out of the water and led him back to their clothes. He'd get to the bottom of whatever was bothering the older boy, somehow. He had faith.
They said their goodbyes to Donna and Patty. George laughed at the thoroughly cornered expression on Woof's face when Patty made him promise to come back tomorrow to play with her again. Since they'd planned to spend the night anyway, it was certainly no skin off George's back to agree, so he didn't interfere. Besides, with any luck, the longer stay and having his friend to himself for an extra day might perk Woof up. George could only hope.
That night was as peaceful and romantic as George could have hoped. With Woof spooned in front of him, the sand soft underneath them and still warm from the sun of the day, the gentle sounds of the waves crashing against the shore and the softly glowing disc of the full moon illuminating everything overhead, it couldn't have been more perfect. Something about it, about being out here, communing with nature at its most primal... it set his soul at ease. And as he relaxed, he could feel Woof do the same. Maybe... maybe that was all it was. Woof always seemed to pick up on his moods better than any of the others they hung around with and he always seemed to know when George was putting undue pressure on himself, trying to be someone he wasn't.
Pulling the older boy closer to him, George pressed a soft kiss to his temple. Woof smiled and raised one of George's hands to his lips to return to the favor. Quietly, he answered the question that George hadn't yet managed to ask, "Today was good, George. Really good. And this is even better. Having you to myself, again, even if it's only for tonight."
Then he did something unexpected: he pulled away and sat up. George moved to follow, but Woof put a hand on his chest, wordlessly asking him to be still. Since Woof didn't attempt to restrict him like that often, George complied, a bemused expression on his face. Seeing his friend cooperating, Woof offered him a small smile - that same melancholy one that George so hated to see. Woof threaded one hand through George's hair, twirling it idly as he finally started to speak, "George... you're different, you know?"
George almost did sit up at that, his heart giving a sudden, uncomfortable lurch against his ribcage, "Wh-what do you mean?"
Again that sad smile, "I know you, George Berger, better than you know yourself, I think. I watch you all the time. So, I know. I know you're different." Shifting his hand, he tapped George's forehead, "You're different in here..." He then lowered his hand to splay it over the bare skin of his friend's chest, right over his heart, "And you're different in here. You don't see things the same way everyone else does. I know, because I'm the same. I see things differently, too." Ducking his head shyly, he said, "I guess... I guess I just wanted you to know that you're not alone. I understand you, at least most of the time, I do. And, you don't have to try so hard." George opened his mouth to protest, but Woof shook his head and ran right over him, "Your friends, your real friends, won't love you any less if you're not perfect. And we know how hard it is for you when you try to be perfect. It hurts you. And we don't want you hurt..." Eyes meeting George's for the first time since beginning that little speech, Woof finished with, "I don't want you hurt. OK?" Extremely humbled by the depth of his friend's feelings and the depth of his understanding, George could only nod. Woof smiled, this time a smile of gentle happiness, "Good. I like you. I'll always like you, no matter who you choose to be. That..." Ducking his head again, Woof's smile took back a touch of that melancholy, "That's all I can be for you, George. I can love you. I can accept you. And for me that's enough. But... I know you need more. You need more than I can give you. And when you find it... I won't love you any less. I just needed you to know that. OK?"
Now the younger boy did sit up, taking Woof's face in his hands and softly brushing some of the sand from his hair. Still shaken by the depth of his friend's insight, he nonetheless managed to give him the answer he needed, "OK, Woof. OK." Placing a gentle kiss on his friend's forehead, George then pulled him close, "But that's tomorrow, Woof. Not today. Not tonight. Tomorrow. Tonight's just for us, just for this. We'll deal with tomorrow tomorrow, OK?"
There was a bit of vehement nodding against his shoulder, a telltale sniffle, and then Woof tucked himself as tightly against his friend as he could. And George, for the life of him, couldn't help feeling that somehow, in some way... the older boy was saying, "Goodbye."
Woof: Ack! O_O That... that wasn't very nice... *whimper*
Claude: *twitch* Now do you see what I meant?
Woof: O_O Yeah... I do.
Claude: *wraps an arm around Woof* But I appreciate you sacrificing yourself for me just the same.
Woof: *dazed look* Is that what I did?
Claude: *nods* She's been writing some major angst for me lately as part of another fic... and if she couldn't get Sheila to cooperate with her to finish this one, she was going to work on that one. Naturally, Sheila didn't cooperate, but since you did... she left me alone.
Woof: O_O Oh... well... then, you're welcome.
Berger: *twitch* Now, wait just a minute! Why don't I get to cuddle with Claude in this fic?
Claude: *smirk* 'Cuz I'm not in it.
Berger: *sigh* Well, that's not a fair excuse. :-P
Claude: ^_^ Your point?
Questions, comments, mandragora?
Coming Soon: George and Woof find their way back to the Jersey shore and George spends the day struggling to come to terms with who he is... and who he may never be.