:D A new fic! Awesome right? Well, you guys would probably have to read this first before you can make a judgment. So, this is basically the result of my utter love for 'five things' meme fics. I seriously can't get enough of them. Five times so and so didn't have sex, five times so and so was a girl, whatever the five things are, I'm all over them. I randomly thought of this earlier today and decided that it had to be done. I hope you guys like it.
A few of the ficlets are angsty, others are just intended to be silly and hilarious. I'm sure you guys can tell which are which, if not, that really says more about you than it does about me. Let me know if this is something you like, I'm considering doing a few more of these. I'd like to know how you guys thought it worked out.
Some of these are James/Carlos, some are gen, and others are gen that is sort of thinly veiled James/Carlos, and some are really just gen. You guys can decide which are which.
Oh and there is a very, very subtle Supernatural crossover, not that anyone who hasn't seen the show needs to have seen it. I just couldn't resist a teency shout out. I'm sure any of you who are fans will notice.
"What do you think about the rumor of there being a ghost at the Palmwoods?"
Carlos is too busy pouring gasoline and salt on a corpse to answer. This is pretty standard, a normal salt and burn; it's also really, insanely boring. James misses the week before when they were hunting a Chupacabra through deserted fields in a rural part of Texas. That had been exciting.
"Like, a real ghost?" Carlos lights a match and tosses it into the grave. The body bursts into flames instantly and they lick upwards towards the two of them, burning orange and bright.
"That's what I heard."
"From who?" Carlos rubs at the faint lines of scratches on his face. They had been looking for a wendigo in Minnesota and James hadn't been able to get the rag in the bottle of gasoline to light. Wendigos are fast and so fucking strong, power and speed stretched onto anemic bones, barely more than skeletons, and Carlos had distracted it by shooting it right in the face, which was really fucking stupid, but it had worked. The wendigo had sunk its claws into Carlos' cheek, more pissed off than hungry at that point, and James had finally gotten the damn cloth to light. The bottle broke on impact with the wendigo's back, charred its gray, withered skin to bits.
"Singer, he says he thinks we can handle it. It's not dangerous, at least not according to anyone at the hotel."
"Why do we always get the ghosts that don't kill anyone?"
James wants to say it's because they're sixteen and new, which they are, but he's just as offended as Carlos, so instead he says something else entirely.
"I don't fucking know."
"I think everyone is age-cist. They're jealous that we're young."
"Maybe they're jealous of your helmet." Carlos started wearing his hockey helmet during hunts after a really nasty spirit threw him headfirst into a brick wall. Now Carlos wears it all the time, every damn day. If James didn't share a bed with Carlos, he'd think he slept in the thing too.
"My helmet is beast. It totally kept that slug swamp thing from eating my brains."
"Good thing too, that little guy would have starved."
"Fuck you." Carlos laughs, smiling wide and cheery. Carlos always seems to manage smiles, tells jokes to cheer them up the nights they can't get the monster in time. The only time Carlos hasn't been upbeat is the night a Rawhead gutted a baby as it slept in its crib, splattered blood through the white bars.
"We're out of condoms." Carlos knows he's kidding; he keeps a box of condoms in the glove compartment, because you never know when a grateful daughter/niece/attractive wife wants to pay her saviors a thank you, or when he gets really turned on watching Carlos clean blood off his face.
"Liar." Carlos puts the gasoline and salt in the trunk. James has to admit they're really fucking cool doing this. They've got the Mustang James' grandmother bought him for his sixteenth birthday and four weeks before school starts again. If it was possible he and Carlos probably would have dropped out already, taken straight to the road. As it is they aren't pressed for money. James' grandmother started a college fund for him the day he was born and when he told her what he really wanted to do, half convinced she'd think he was crazy, she stroked his face and sat him down. She told him a story from when she was a little girl in the old country, James had never known his grandmother was from the old country, so it was kind of cool to hear, plus it gave him an awesome ethnic thing that he could use to his advantage. She told him the tale of wicked women who rose from the lakes and rivers at night, danced naked and graceful in the meadows, combed their long, beautiful hair at the water's edge, waiting for men to drown and devour.
"Well do you want to check it out?" Carlos has a smudge of ash on his chin that James brushes away with his thumb, lingering and gentle.
"Duh. California is only super freakin' amazing. Plus we should probably send a postcard home once we get there."
James isn't quite sure how Carlos concocted the idea that they were going to a hockey camp in California or how their parents were dumb enough to fall for it. Either way, it worked, and here they are, two hundred miles north of the Oregon state line. Their summer has been hotels and great food and things that drool and snarl in the dark.
"You read my mind."
Carlos doesn't understand why James keeps complaining, it's James' fault they're in this to begin with. James is the one who spent the last of their rent money on a hairdryer that doesn't look any different from a regular hairdryer, except James says it has eighteen different settings and came with a free comb. Carlos is all for getting free stuff, just not when the free stuff comes after a three hundred and eighty six dollar purchase.
"I hate you." James whispers, wincing as he runs a brush through his wig to work out the random snarls.
"You said I could pick the job. I picked this."
"This is so fucking stupid." He likes it. He's sort of always wanted to be a clown. Clowns can do cool tricks and get to wear giant shoes and hilarious outfits. How can James not want to do that? They get to make balloon animals and swallow handkerchiefs and ride in a super tiny car! It's only like, the coolest job in the entire world. "Only you would pass over a perfectly nice job as handsome waiters in favor of being party clowns."
"You know I've always wanted to have a rubber nose." It's only been his secret dream since he was five, James should really know that. When they were small and went to birthday parties, he'd always hoped there would be clowns. He loved clowns; big clowns, little clowns, fat clowns, short clowns, that one clown that wore an eye patch had a hook for a hand. He loves getting to be silly and he loves the looks on kids' faces when he does something to get them to laugh. He loves making a little girl a pink balloon puppy she hugs to her chest until it pops.
"I know all about your freaky clown fetish." It's not a fetish. He doesn't jerk off to the thought of the soft, colorful rainbow wigs, to the silky feel of a dozen different handkerchiefs tied together. Well, he's never actually decided to go through with it, 'cause that'd be weird.
"Shut up and put on your shoes."
The sun is shining through the stained glass windows, casting rays of multicolored light that dance along the old stone floor of the church, swirl across the pews. Carlos feels like he's looking through a kaleidoscope, like he's seven and watching the shapes and patterns turn, change and morph into things pretty and new. He feels like he's sixteen again and drunk, clinging to James' shoulders to keep him upright, pressed against the warm, lean line of James' back. He can still smell the shampoo James was wearing that night, feel the cotton of James' shirt against his cheek. The memories send tiny flares through him, bright and crackling, electric and alive.
He's contemplating taking a break, quitting the confession session early, when the door opens and closes, a figure settles beside him in the dark, separated by a thin layer of wood and a small, square mesh screen.
"Hey." There is no forgive me for I have sinned, nothing he's gotten used to. James sounds tired, world weary and wise. Fifteen years and there are moments he wants, so hot and brilliant, deep, deep down. He remembers how it used to be, how they used to be. James went off for a year after high school, just one year, off to chase a crazy modeling dream, and by the time he came back, as rich and famous as he'd always dreamed, Carlos had started wearing a white collar, had devoted himself and his emptiness to something bigger than himself, something glorious and divine. James had been furious, vicious and pleading, but Carlos had vows and a new life and people counting on him. He'd waited for James a year; he couldn't wait forever.
"Hi." He's seventeen again, stupid helmet stuck to his head, sitting with James and Logan and Kendall in homeroom, flicking bits of paper at Mr. Bitters when his back is turned. "How are you?" His throat closes up, tight and painful.
"Good. I have a new album coming out in a few weeks."
"That's nice." They're like shadows of their former selves, a sad parody of who James and Carlos used to be, how they used to be.
"What about you?"
"A missionary trip to our sister chapel in Oaxaca."
"Cool." Time stretches into silence, twists at the ends as though it's being wrung by nervous fingers again and again. Carlos' mouth is too dry, spit too thick.
"I heard you and Mercedes are getting married in the spring." He knows because he saves every article he can find about James, saves them in a scrapbook someone bought him years and years ago. He has it filled to bursting, pictures of him and his friends as kids and teenagers, a picture of his sister's wedding, photos from his very first missionary trip, himself holding two smiling children in his lap. He keeps the book to remind himself that his life hasn't ended, no matter how true it might feel.
"Yeah." James coughs, rattling and empty. "I just wanted to ask—"
There are a hundred thousand things James could ask, Carlos only hopes he doesn't pick the one that has dread forming as solid lump in his belly. He can't, even if he wants to. He made promises to people and powers greater than himself.
"James—" He starts, stopping when James puts a hand up, signaling to let him finish.
"I was wondering if you'd be the one to marry us."
Carlos' heart drops and though it hurts, somehow worse than anything he was imagining, there's a grin working its way onto his face.
"I'd be honored."
Logan does his best to try and stay calm, even though this entire situation is ridiculous. But, being the best man means he's the one in charge of the bachelor party, and all the other guys decided that surprising Kendall with a hooker the night before his wedding would be hilarious. Logan's almost sure the joke will seem a whole lot funnier that night when they're all drunk.
"Um, so then, Mr. Diamond—"
"J-Daddy." James (J-Daddy) insists, leaning back in his chair and smiling. Logan's never met a pimp before in his life (he hopes to never meet one again) and he thinks they must be different than James or no hooker would ever be able to take them seriously. James is wearing a vibrant cheetah print purple velvet suit, complete with a matching hat, and his skin is a strange shade of neon orange Logan's never seen on anyone that wasn't an Oompa Loompa.
"Okay then, J-Daddy, like I said, it's my friend Kendall's bachelor party this Saturday."
"A bachelor party? Then you'll be wantin' one of my best bitches." James pulls out a photo book, the first two pages are full of shots of James in what Logan can only assume are various pimping outfits. The next four dozen are of girls and James flips through until he gets to the last page. There are three girls there, all breasts and long legs and beautiful, all too tempting. The hooker is supposed to be a joke, not a temptation. Kendall is supposed to be disturbed, not turned on. "Any one of the Jens will give your friend a night he won't forget."
"Oh he's not going to have sex with them. That's gross." He realizes what he's said too soon and James frowns at him. "No, I didn't mean that, I mean, they're beautiful, I'm sure sex with them isn't gross at all." Oh God he's having verbal diarrhea in front of a pimp, how embarrassing. "Don't you have, I don't know, someone else?"
James grins at him so that his face is all orange skin and bright white teeth.
"I getcha. Imma hook you up with my bottom bitch." James turns towards the door and yells. "Carlos."
"I'm comin', I'm comin'." Comes the reply in a voice that is surprisingly camp sounding for a guy's, but, then again, most male hookers probably aren't all that straight, so it really isn't that much of a shocker.
"Bitch, I know you aren't wearing no heels on my new floor!"
There's a pause and then the sound of footsteps resume, this time noticeably quieter, the click of high heeled shoes replaced by the soft thud of bare feet.
"Mhm, whatcha be needin' Papí Chulo." The guy that comes in is, well, kind of exactly what Logan was expecting. He's wearing a pair of shorts that Logan's pretty sure his girlfriend Camille owns and that strangely, look way better on him than her. He's chewing loudly on a wad of pink bubble gum and he has on an obscene mesh tank top that's about as effective at covering his skin as air.
"Got a job for you, ho." James says, sounding for all the world as though it is an endearing term. Carlos responds to it happily, though, and settles in James' lap, places kisses along his jaw. "This is Carlos, but you can call him by his street name, Culo Picante."
Logan, because he minored in Spanish in college, fights a blush and clears his throat.
"You know, I think I'm going to be looking into all the available prostitution vendors before I make a decision."
They take Kendall to a strip club. Logan doesn't talk about it.
They joined together. The day Carlos' draft ticket got called James went down and signed himself up without a second thought. He wasn't sure why he was doing it at the time; not really, he only knew he needed to go too to make sure that Carlos came home, no matter what. There were six guys from their town that would never come home again; Carlos wasn't going to be one of them. Him and Carlos, they were best friends until the end, always and forever.
He just never thought the end would come so soon.
It's pouring rain but the weather is hot and muggy, the air thick with humidity, the dank warmth of a foreign jungle. He doesn't care that his clothes are soaked or that he might never get his socks dry again. He doesn't care because he's trying to keep Carlos' blood inside his belly and failing at it. Carlos' blood is vibrant red and warm as it oozes up through the lines between his fingers. He hadn't known Carlos was hit at first, maybe because Carlos didn't know, or because Carlos thought that if he ignored the cascade of blood down his front that it would go away. James knows, however, that Carlos didn't want him to worry, didn't want to slow him down.
"Hey, I think the bleeding is stopping, you're gonna be okay." He's only half lying. The bleeding is slowing down, if only because the ground beneath Carlos is red as the clay they used to make their mothers vases with in tenth grade. He isn't sure how much blood Carlos has left in him, just how much his body has to give. "This is going to make one hell of a scar."
He can barely see through the assault of rain, the denseness of the trees. He can't see their medic Logan anywhere, not that Logan can do much good at this point. The logical part of James that has seen this all before knows this is the end of everything, but the part of him that is more Carlos' best friend than soldier, hopes against hope.
Carlos tries to say something, something James thinks is his last, dying declaration, but all that comes out of his mouth is blood.
"Shit, James, we have to go. We're outnumbered, lieutenant said to retreat." Kendall is a guy from their unit, pride and joy of this part of the armed forces, poised to be a general someday once he works through the ranks.
"We can't leave him here." He won't leave Carlos' body. He promised he'd bring Carlos home and if he can't do it alive, he's going to bring his best friend home in a coffin.
"Okay." He'll thank Kendall for this later when the sound of gunshots and the whiz of bullets near his face stop, when he has silence and when there is time to grieve. Kendall helps him lift up Carlos' body and the rain washes away Carlos' blood from James' skin, leaves his hands clean and shiny, water bright in the faint light come down from the dim gray sky.
Years later, after the war is done and James is a civilian again, he holds the six pounds and eight ounces that is his daughter in his arms and never knew he could love a person so much that wasn't his best friend. His daughter is so perfect, even if she's red and blotchy, her head a strange shape that will round out in a few days, balder than an eighty year old man. James loves her so much from her ten fingers to her ten toes. She moves one of her hands, achingly small and feeble, and he touches the little band of yellow around her wrist. Her name is on that bracelet and it stands out in neat, printed letters. Carla Diamond. His tiny Carla, perfect and whole and here.
He feels the dog tags nestled against his heart, the ones he took off Carlos' body that day that feels like yesterday, that still hurts him; a wound that will never truly close. Carlos' parents said they didn't want the tags because they have a framed letter from the president and a folded flag on the mantel to remind them of their son, dozens and dozens of pictures, a high school diploma Carlos was so damn proud to have. The metal is warm from being against his bare skin and he knows that someday, when his daughter is older, she'll be the one to wear them; living proof of his most cherished memory.
For those of you who are wondering: my grandfather's both served in Vietnam, I'm not religious, and if you want to know what Culo Picante means, you should google it. It's more fun to find out on your own. ;)