Hi everyone :3. Just the tiniest, but very important, author note before starting. This is an experimental fanfic: you get to pick the ending you like better. So, please, do read all the way and let me know where you'd like to see this going. Thank you =D

DISCLAIMER: Velvet Goldmine does, most obviously, not belong to me. The title, as well as the poem mentioned by Curt, come after Arthur Rimbaud's Illuminations. So, yeah, he's the French wrecko. No offence intended! :D


The highs and the lows were pretty much the same. It was always harsh, harsh probing fingers or harsh stinging needles. Throbbing hardness in Brian's tight leather pants, pumping heroin in Curt's overly abused veins. Hot and hurt, again and again, hands and hydrogen and humourless laughter afterward.

[As ridicolously harmful as it was, neither of them ever considered breaking the habit.]

And they were heroes. Heroes in lovemaking, just like in taking over the world.

Curt was always trying to be helpful. Hell, not that he needed doing much. His beauty was the sole help Brian could use, and he made sure he used it wholly. In the end little was left for him to consume, and Curt only half realized they were coming to a halt. His fall was carved in Brian's handwriting all over the glittering sky.

A hindrance. Brian's main man, his partner, his brother, his – God forbid him – fucking soulmate had grown to matter little more than the random harlots and horny harpies lulling him into sleep at night, when Curt was locked away in his hazy world of drug visions. And, sure, it was about cocaine and hair-dye and being a sodding husband, for crying out loud; but, most of all, their split-up came 'cause Brian was too far gone to see.

[To see the heart of everything had always been right there before him.]

What Brian did see was a horrible waste of their heydays, since Curt just didn't seem to give a shit about anything. Well, except his bloody dopes, and, maybe, the two of them. Curt had cared for Brian in a way that became plain hideous. Had he only hidden his disinterest for anything that fucking was Maxwell Demon's world, they'd have made it through.

[How could he be forgiven for loving the closest thing to a real Brian Slade that ever was?]

There came the hailstorm, right when the space creature in paillettes and make-up was too full of both hate and hope to stop it. Curt turned on his heels, treading on every single ounce of happiness Brian had treasured in silence, for fear of the headlines.

[For fear of seeing it all tumbling down. How fucking ironic.]

Everything's been so heavy since then. Even after the bloody hoax and the havoc it caused, Brian still hasn't found room to breathe. Mandy's gone – Mandy was gone ages before Curt left – and home got broken – it did before her very eyes, the moment Maxwell Demon shut the window in haste, not to change back into Brian Slade then and there.

All hail to the has-been king of glam. Meanwhile, Hell's pouring down on the leftovers of Tommy Stone's career.

"Well, screw you, Brian!"

Curt takes a drag from his cigarette, head shaking in disapproval. "Still haven't learned a bloody thing, have you?"

Brian is begging him with his eyes, praying to all Gods he knows of that he'll be able just to show what he feels, for once. "Tell me. Where have I gone wrong?"

The blonde keeps shaking his head, handsome features wrinkled in distaste. "It still is about your goddamn career. Christ, you're unbelievable! How can you possibly want more of that bullshit? It's just sick."

Brian lowers his gaze to the dirty concrete. "Yeah, I know. So am I."

Curt gets suddenly serious. His eyes grow demanding, his tone husk. "Why?" And he seems to be asking for a meditated truth.

Funny enough, Brian has rehearsed an awful lot for this moment. "'Cause I'm a fucking flaming homo surrounded by bloody hags I give shit about and still haunted by the one thing that ever meant something. 'Cause I was always like, hush, and never bloody held you once. I couldn't hug you, couldn't hear you sing, it just gave me the creeps. I'd rather check on your sodding haemoglobin afterward than offer you a reason to give heroin up for good. And I could never, ever handle you, and it's driven me hysterical and heartless."

Curt is silent for a long minute. His reply comes casually. "Yeah. Well. You done yet?" He steps forward to approach a startled Brian, then bents enough to whisper right in his ear. "Trouvez Hortense."

Is it just him, or this made little sense? "What?"

Curt simply shrugs. "Just something a friend o'mine said when I told him I was coming to find you. Trouvez Hortense. It's taken from a poem some French wrecko wrote 'bout masturbation, or shit like that." He sneers.

Brian is not sure whether he should believe his ears. "Really?"

Curt gives a brief nod. "It's more like a riddle. 's about loneliness and shagging and tiredness. About misery."

Coming out of nowhere, Brian feels a chill taking over his body. "Doesn't sound funny."

"It's not that bad." His former lover stares intently. "We still could find Hortense, y'know."

"How?" And why, Brian wants to add, but keeps silent.

Curt shrugs again, seemingly relaxing. "I don't know. Looking around." His voice sounds more suggestive. "Breaking the habit."

Brian's always thought of Curt's drug problem as the one habit they couldn't fight off. He feels the urge to clarify his position. "I'm not mad at you for that, you know."

Curt only bits his lip. "'s not what I meant. The stuff blew our minds, but it can't be blamed." He seems to be remembering something, and adds quickly: "I'm off it now, by the way."

"Good. I'm glad to hear it." And Brian really is, but there's the question he can no longer suppress. He lets out in a shaky whisper. "Curt, why now? It's been so long. I'd given up hope."

These words make Curt burst, quite unexpectedly, into laughter. He wipes his eyes at last, snorting. "You're better off this way. I haven't come to bring you hope."

Brian has no doubts what this means. "You're leaving again, then?"

Curt hesitates. "No." He slowly utters, somewhat absentmindedly. "Guess I'll just be hanging 'round." A bittersweet smile plays on his lips. "You always left me hanging anyway, so I figured I might as well stay. Stay in touch. Y'know, just in case."

Brian is taken aback. Little Curt's saying makes any sense to him, but he's willing to give it a go. "Just in case?"

"Just in case you find Hortense. Let me know if you do." Thus Curt smiles and steps over, ready to leave.

Brian's voice comes out quite alarmed in trying to keep him from going. "Was it no good, then? What I was thinking about us before, I mean."

The blonde turns slowly, a pensive expression on his face. "S'pose it was okay. If you like fake and," he smirks knowingly, "haggard."

Then Brian knows Curt is not really there. They're playing in the H world, the world of hurt, hoax, habit and heroin, the world they used to live in together before Maxwell Demon took over Brian, first, then over them both. H is Brian's memory of the bygone times. H is Curt, as he was, and H is Brian's desire for Curt to be still there. Right now, H is the world of painkilling. "I'll work on it. I promise."

H-Curt nods approvingly. "You do so." He stays silent for a brief, awkward moment. "See you, yeah?"

Brian reckons there's no point in restraining him. "Yeah." But he can't help asking, before H-Curt disappears: "Is this place Heaven?"

He had almost seen it coming. Curt turns again and laughs heartily. "It's not even a hotel room! Your mind couldn't come up with it." The smile fades. "But it's real. You feel it too."

Brian knows no longer what to think. He reaches out to touch Curt, and he's so real it hurts. So, what? Is his mind that fucked up he's having actual sensations of something that's not even there? Tears fill up his eyes, but never flow. "I've missed you." He simply whispers, fingers grazing lightly against the raw material of Curt's t-shirt.

The blonde stares at him with a weird, longing earnestness. Brian feels he knows what's coming before Curt speaks up.

"You've missed a lot."

A/N: Now, you get to choose. Is Brian daydreaming, maybe through a cocaine-induced stupor? Is he asleep, or dead? Is Curt really there? And a hundred more options :).

You think it, I'll write it! See you =D